Barcelona! Experience bohemian chic in the Garcia quarter
I had the great pleasure of visiting one of our retailers Bibi at her shop Olokuti in Barcelona during my Easter holiday in Spain. I don’t get much of a chance to personally visit all our retailers but when on a family holiday, I take the chance to drop in and learn a bit more about what works for independent gift shops.
Having been to Barcelona many moons ago, I was familiar with the usual tourist traps, Las Ramblas, the Gaudi buildings, Barceloneta etc etc. Little did I know of the Garcia village within Barcelona city. I arrived by bus at the North bus station and walked about 35 minutes to our customer’s address. As we entered the Garcia quarter of Barcelona, we noticed lots of independent shops, boutiques, artisan supermarkets and a very local feel to the place. We finally found our stockist Olokuti on a pedestrianised street, in a beautiful old building.
Shopping in Barcelona, Olokuti
Olokuti is a pioneer and trend-setter. Bibi and husband started the fair trade/eco/bio shop 12 years ago, the first of such shops in the area. The Spanish were not so familiar with the concept of fair trade/eco/bio, so Bibi and husband had the challenging task of creating awareness, education and at the same time growing a successful business.
12 years later, there are organic supermarkets, an organic cotton shoe shop, health food shop and lots of other small independent shops. The cluster of like minded shops creates a bohemian chic shopping experience, which I love! This area should definitely be on the tourist must-go list. Easily accessible from the Fontana metro station too!
Back to Olokuti and why they are successful:
1. They have created a calm, peaceful and enjoyable shopping experience.
Granted, the shop itself has wonderful original features and flooring. Inside, Bibi has created an oasis where shoppers can meander into different chambers for different categories of goods.
2. They are savvy in choosing their product offering, concentrating on quality goods, unique items and natural materials to attract the sort of buyer who has more income to spend on such things. There are goods for every budget but generally goods are not cheap. I am a firm believer that if you only have cheap goods, you will only attract customers looking for a bargain-busting product. We should get away from the mentality that everything should be cheap. To truly look after the resource of this world, whether labour or raw materials, we need to pay a price that truly reflects the value of that material or labour.
Little Trove enamelware at Olokuti
3. There isn’t a “charity” feel at the shop. The aim is for buyers to buy because they love the design of the products. The fact that it’s fair trade is an added bonus. The shop is run very professionally, paying attention to every little detail. Charity shops have their place in society, but I don’t believe fair trade shops should feel like charity shops because fair trade is about TRADE and trade means BUSINESS.
Beautiful shop atmosphere
4. Customers can have a drink and relax in an outdoor area at the back. At Olokuti, they organise events like movie screenings in the evenings, in their back garden. This attracts more customers to the shop without expressly selling to them. What a great way to build a positive experience for everyone who walks through their door!
Chill out area
It was great to catch up with Bibi and learn a bit more about her and the business. The shop is a credit to her hard work and good business sense.
If you’re in the area, make sure to do some shopping at: