California Dreaming


I’ve recently spent 5 weeks traveling around California, a mixture of business and pleasure, which I would describe as a trip of exploration, exciting discoveries and creating new circles of friends. It’s been amazing and I finished my trip with an exhibition launch in San Francisco. For me, Zero Above is my life, which doesn’t mean I’m a workaholic. In fact, far from it! The fact is, I enjoy the business so much because I am an avid consumer, which sits very well with a design and marketing agency. So I’m probably a consumer of products, a consumer of ideas and a consumer of experiences. 

So I’ve returned to the UK with a desire to share my thoughts on the things I’ve discovered on this trip in the context of British retailing, something which is hugely important to me and in particular, the independent retailer on today’s high street and beyond. No-one can deny the radical overturn of the high street in recent years, with some of the major retailers gone now, the latest being BHS. New entrants are here and cleaning up, such as Tiger which has taken the market Woolies left behind for basic commodities and turned it into a bright and fun experience.

Whilst the high street is churning its large brands who are battling with the consumers love of online shopping, we see the emergence of more coffee shops and retail offers designed to slow the shopper down, keeping them in the high street longer. This I believe, along with increasing store voids represents a real opportunity for independent retailers to shine and own their place in their towns. 

Standing Out

I believe the only way to achieve this, is by standing out in the high street, separating yourself from the rest of the mundane, like-for-like offers and THINKING DIFFERENTLY. How do you own a particular fame point? How do you have the best customer service? How do you have the best product range? How do you have the best social experience? Being talked about and desired by the consumer is an achievement every retailer, practice or venue works hard for and hopes for. But that means thinking differently too. Here’s some of my favourite experiences from California, enjoy, and feel inspired!

Foreign Cinema is an amazing experience of gourmet cuisine in an outdoor cinema environment, with a personal speaker to hear the soundtrack on your table. This is experiential dream.

Outdoor Cinema in San Francisco

The Myriad is a completely new offer made up of independent bars, coffee shops, sushi counters and even a freshly baked baguette in 5 minutes extravaganza inside an industrial setting - vibrant and fun.

Independent Coffee Shop

When is a barbershop not a barbershop? When it’s a book signing events venue for a distinct target audience.

Barbourshop Book Signing

When you’re made to feel like a million dollar customer during wine tasting AND get to see the wine production, you’re going to spend!

Wine Tasting Napa Valley

Grapes for Wine

This gallery had created an amazing wallspace utilising all kinds of found objects - a great talking point that I saw lots of visitors photographing.

Oddball Gallery

I loved this social media opportunity from the film The Shining at a Kubrick exhibition, which had it’s own hashtag for posting to twitter and instagram.

The Shining on Social