Monday, April 20, 2009


I don't know if it's Paris or a new global world trend, but shops are opening all over and calling themselves 'concept stores'.  I have a hard time figuring out what that means exactly.  My first exposure to the 'concept' thought process was Colette on rue du Faubourg Honoré.  It is consistently the absolute talk of the town, selling itself as a concept store, yet what this means is totally lost on me.  It comes across as a fashion/jewelry/music/latest artsy-fartsy must have shop with the added bonus of a water bar where the beautiful crowd hangs out sipping water. Crazy.  The space looks a lot like a fashion store that sells jewelry, make-up, some CD's, and other odds and ends that are kitschy and expensive.  Oh, and of course they have some water.  Is the water the concept part because that's normal or is price gouging the concept as they sell makeup for about three times the price that it costs at my local Wal-Mart here in the states?  A certain segment of the world's population goes ga-ga for it so either I am missing something or am consciously choosing not to be a part of that segment.  

Recently, a new shop has opened in the Marais calling itself a concept shop as well, although this is an idea I get.  Merci, a cavernous space by French standards, is dedicated to all things that would point to a lifestyle with a conscience.  An eclectic mix of fashion, both new and vintage, housewares and furnishings provide much for customers to spend time mulling over.  There is a perfume bar, as opposed to a water bar, where one purchases perfume and a floral shop run by Christian Tortu who does amazing floral things.  All the mulling that you find yourself doing might require a break for lunch which can be found in their inspired street level café.  Here, haphazardly arranged tables and chairs find a home among shelves of second hand books in several different languages available for sale.  The food is described as well prepared "healthy cuisine"--nothing pretentious like haute H2O.

The store is getting rave reviews for breaking down a huge space into more intimate sections and combining both new and used of everything into an eclectic, artful mix.  Here's the real kicker:  Merci donates all its proceeds (after breaking even) to a woman's co-op in Madagascar. They are committed to giving back.  That is certainly a new twist for Paris as overt philanthropy isn't a part of main stream thought.  Raised on the idea that the government will take care of things, the need to solicit funds as we do in the states for specific causes hasn't really caught on.  At Merci they are boldly going where others have not, creating the idea of conscientious consumption in Paris.  

Now that's a worthwhile concept!  

Additional information:  
111  boulevard Beaumarchais  75003
Metro:  Saint Sebastian Froissart (Line 8)

1 comment:

My Castle in Spain said...

oh..i'm glad your review is of Merci is positive ! i read quite a lot of critical remarks on..French blogs and must admit it annoyed a bit. I have the most sincere admiration for the owners of Merci (the former owners of Bonpoint children clothing store). They mean what they say, the total proceeds go to various charities in Madagascar.

Thank you for your comment about Toumani Diabate. i'm very happy you liked his music. Sometimes, during the concert, the beauty of it was quite unbearable. If you check on youtube, there's a video of him playing with harpist Katell Boisneau in the Louvre...Pure beauty !!!