Pavement living and a good chat: nice ideas from Swedish retailers

While in Stockholm last weekend, middleagedad  and I saw some nice ideas from Swedish retailers we’d like to see adopted over here in the UK. We spotted these trends as we wandered around the super hip area of SoFo (SoHo New York has a lot to answer for in terms of abbreviation trends) which is an area in Södermalm below a street called Folkungagatan, home to interesting independent stores, vintage emporiums, furniture shops and lots of nice cafes and bars. Oh and an Acne sale shop. The stores here have implemented a few simple ideas that made shopping better and the pavements a little more decorative.

Firstly, many shops had put a couple of chairs, a sofa or bench outside the store front to encourage weary customers to sit and chill. We loved this idea, it meant we could rest our touristy legs when it all became too much and it was surprisingly community spirited as anyone who was sat down, smiled and said hello to anyone passing. When they weren’t busy, shop owners came out and sat too, chatting to neighbours and friendly passers by. The odd assortment of furniture on the pavement also added extra charm, although being Sweden this was mostly well designed furniture.

Secondly, every store had at the very least, a small pot of greenery outside the door, many had quite a garden growing in scrappy pots and recycled containers.. None of the plants were glamourous or grand, they were just herbs or little pots of flowers. It was very decorative and softened the urban landscape nicely

Thirdly, not so easy to photograph, but Swedish retailers encouraged conversation. After our visit to Stockholm MAD and I are certain the Swedes are the nicest race on the planet anyway (so calm, so friendly, so darn nice), but we loved that many shop staff were happy to engage you in conversation. It was admittedly quiet, being the time in Sweden when everyone has left the city to go on holiday and as tourists we had time on our hands, but even so, the general atmosphere in stores was pretty chatty. Perhaps we were just lucky with our choices, but it came as a nice change to have a grown up conversation with a pleasant and interested shop keeper. We would like to encourage this idea in more stores please, interesting conversations may well give us a good reason to visit more often.

The Grandpa store on Bondegatan, with its bench and plants out front.

Even skinny pavements got a small table with a plant to make the store entrance inviting


  • Lilac says:

    love the vibe that creates

  • notsurebut says:

    This is a lovely idea though unfortunately in london, at least, pretty impossible to replicate due to the over zealous nature of our local councils and dreaded health and safety officials. My partner is in the restaurant and retail business and trying to put anything outside a shop or cafe results in fines, inspections and a huge hike in business rates.

  • amanda says:

    Oh that’s dreadful! How daft and how against the whole idea of local, community and everything friendly! perhaps we should tell Mary Portas and get her to change the rules for stores? (In her new role as improver of the high street) there’s a thought. Ax

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