Traditional luxury retail stores serve the purpose of customer information sharing and customer selling. Customers would enter the store to get informed about certain products, to try or test these products and, if they are satisfied, to purchase the product. Modern retailers are offering convenience as a symbol.
There are certain retailers that offer customers the opportunity to purchase food or drinks and consume it on the premises of the store. Although the Food Hall at Harrods is renown, I felt that the experience is cold, unwelcoming and at times (the three times I’ve visited) stuffy. Leave it to the French to enhance the culinary experience of gourmet cuisine with the amazing Lafayette Gourmet. The retailer claims that it offers the ‘very best in fine food for your daily grocery shopping, as well as providing a home delivery service’. The grocery offering includes specialty wines, gourmet delights, French specialties and product from some of the most renowned food brands in the world. A detailed presentation of their offering can found on Gastrotips (with amazing photos like the one below):
The most interesting aspect of the offering would be the ground floor where a fine selection of concessions can be found. These concessions offering ready-to-eat gourmet foods ranging from freshly cut fine prosciutto, at 5 Jotas, that can be made into sandwiches (priced between 7 and 18 euros depending on the quality/age of the proscuitto) and specialty cookies at Laura Todd; for which the rich taste is reflected in the not-so steep pricing of 2 euros a unit. Some concessions offer seating areas, where consumers can enjoy their meals on the premises while others solely offer ready-to-eat or pre-made meals. This gourmet pre-made meal concept is quite uncommon in Montréal. However, this concept seems to be in tune with the needs of the French consumer. In fact, while waiting in line at the Tafa store, Asian inspired cuisine, to purchase some delicious looking chicken dumplings, I saw a Parisian woman on the phone with her partner discussing the requirements for their dinner that evening. This lady spent 280 euros on various gourmet Asian inspired dishes for her dinner party that evening. This aspect of luxury was very interesting to me because it was also a metamorphosis. In this store environment, luxury food goods, or gourmet, where to be consumed immediately (either post purchase, or later that evening).
This is a concept that is quite common for mid-market food goods in Montréal or from catering services. However, in this environment, the customer becomes its own caterer and can purchase the finest foods for immediate consumption. The multipurpose store environment at Lafayette Gourmet was very similar to my experience at the Torvehallerne market in Copenhagen (see below). In fact, during my time in this multi-purpose “gourmet” market, I saw people order a glass of wine from the specialty wine store, place an order at an Italian concession for a tortellini dish, and order a vast selection of cheese, some of which were taken to consume on the premises. They then took their wine, tortellini dish and their selection of after-meal cheese and sat at a nearby table to have their meal of that evening. What was interesting is that they had also done their groceries for the weekend.
This metamorphosis of the gourmet areas of luxury shows the flexibility of the concept and its increasing accessibility.
Again, the rebirth of luxury sees a world becoming more approchable where quality and price meet in a mixture of young, fine and simple offerings. Markets like Torvehallerne make are inclusive, welcoming and even ‘cool’. This might coincide with the rise of the educated consumer, whose disposable income often matches the need for enhanced service and product quality.
Which markets have you encountered during your travels? I would like to write a feature on them.