Shop till you drop - in dual purpose stores

Zurich's retailers are offering more than discounts these days Keystone

Shopping in Zurich is not just about walking down Bahnhofstrasse, flanked by the widest selection of department stores and luxury goods shops.

This content was published on September 3, 2000 - 08:22

Zurich's retail scene also has a wealth of innovative and exciting outlets - including an increasing number of dual purpose shops.

One of the latest entrants onto the Zurich shopping list is Spheres, located in the industrial quarter of the city. Spheres combines not just a book shop but also a café and a theatre.

With a stock of less than 1,000 books, Bruno Deckert, owner of the store, told swissinfo: "Spheres specialises in selling books that relate particularly to our society and culture at this time."

Walking through this post-modern temple to literature one passes through the busy café and into the bookshop. Spheres tries to offer a "fluid interchange between the three areas of its business", according to Deckert.

In fact, the bookshelves on which the books are stored are so fluid, they are on wheels, allowing them to be pushed back to create the performance area.

The part of town, in which Spheres is located, is becoming increasingly fashionable as major art galleries and theatres locate among the trendy cafes and bars.

Another business to have started up there is Les Halles, which opened in 1997. Within this old food market one can eat lunch and then head to the organic food grocers, located in the corner of the building to pick up the ingredients for dinner.

Owner Christoph Gysi explained that when Les Halles first opened he carried on his family's tradition, running merely a food wholesaler specialising in organic foods.

However, over the last three years he has expanded the business to fill the cavernous interior with funky old furniture and ancient arcade games.

Dual-purpose shops are also to be found in other areas of the "little big city", such as Kalkül on Krugasse, which is close to the busy Niederdorf shopping street.

Kalkül, which began business two years ago, allows customers to combine a drink at the bar and then head on upstairs to the hairdressers.

Offering what they term a hair ambulance service, the stylists at Kalkül also take to the night time world of Zurich's clubland, where they are ready to offer a quick blow-dry and set to people suffering from bad hair days.

Jayjay one of the stylists at Kalkül told swissinfo: "I work in the Labyrinth Club and I know all the best DJs, so I get them in to the Kalkül bar where they play the coolest music, while we cut the coolest heads in town."

One of the first stores to offer an intriguing double function was Zürich's Schuhcafé, which opened up in 1990.

Owner Marco Bloch told swissinfo that after opening their first store in Badenerstrasse it wasn't long before the Schuhcafé moved to more prestigious premises in downtown Münsterhof.

On entering Schuhcafé every customer is offered a drink, which can be supped at tables while pondering purchases.

"Shoe shopping is stressful, we want to take the stress out of that experience and give people a chance to relax," said Bloch.

All these stores combine innovative functions in fashionably designed interiors. They speak volumes about Zurich's "cool" scene, and ensure the locals shop until they drop.

by Tom O'Brien

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