Monday, May 3


In the sea of retail sameness, I finally had a unique retail experience at a new store this weekend.

Let's face it, no matter where you go in America (and in some cases overseas), it's the same set of retail stores and retail look-alikes. The Gap, Restoration Hardware, J. Crew, etc, etc, etc. It's hard to find a truly unique, one-of-a-kind retail experience anymore.

On Saturday I checked out Terrain. A new concept store from the same company that brings us Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. I know, it's still part of a chain but totally different from their other brands.

The store is located outside of Philadelphia, a bit of a jaunt from my house in Bucks County, but worth it for a little afternoon excursion. It hits you the moment you walk through the alley-way, this is going to be different. My eye immediately starting bouncing around to the pillows, lighting, flowers, fountains, books, shrubbery, glassware ... it was such amazing eye candy.

The concept? Take an old (somewhat down-on-its-luck) landscape nursery and turn it into a village filled with an eclectic mix of indoor and outdoor merchandise, beautifully displayed for you to wander and explore.

Part nursery, part home goods, part furniture, part book store, part gift shop ... Terrain is all those things wrapped up into one. Very outdoors-ey and everything feeling like it's coming from the earth, but in a classic French country kind of a way.

The place sprawled along several buildings as well as outdoor spaces and some green houses. We even had lunch in a little cafe, amid all the foliage in one of the greenhouses. Fabulous, a real treat (the cheese plate was amazing). The staff even holds events there where you can learn about plantings and landscaping. Shop, eat, learn -- a full experience.

In an age where everything retail is about being a chain or being online, it was refreshing to see a new retail experience. It's clearly a concept that can be replicated across the country, but with each location having a unique feel indigenous to the area, based on the local nursery re-invented. Terrain Miami would be very different than Terrain New York than Terrain LA. I wish the brand luck with its plans.

What's your experience? Jim.

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