A few days ago, I brought a couple of friends who were touring Toronto for the first time on a downtown shopping tour. I proudly showed them to the Holt Renfrew flagship store on Bloor Street. I led them straight to the shoe boutique upstairs, my all time favorite section of the store because of its huge and impressive selection of shoes. To my surprise, the first thing my friend asked was, “Why does this place look like a grocery store?” As a shopping addict, I have always put all of my focus on the fashion items themselves rather than the shopping environment, but this time, it hit me. I wanted to answer, it doesn’t, but looking at the boutique as a whole for the first time, it did.
Maybe it was the crazy amount of people hustling around the small area around the shoes; maybe it was the way hundreds of pairs of shoes were placed ordinarily on simple counters; maybe it was simply the fact that such a large number of shoes were squeezed into a relatively small space; looking at the shoe boutique in this new perspective made the shoes suddenly look like different fruits and vegetables sitting meaninglessly in their sections divided by designer, like how apples and oranges are thrown randomly in place divided by their fruit type in a grocery store.
Looking at the shoe boutique with a fresh pair of eyes, the tightness and crowdedness of the space, the way the shoes are scattered on simple shelves, the overwhelming number of shoes, the lack of extravagance, luxury and character in the interior design and the overall unpolished and uninspired atmosphere made me realize how accurate the grocery store description was. I couldn’t have said it better myself.