On July 18th, kids in Berlin got a sneaker store where everything is designed and conceptualized for them: starting from the colorful racks where sneakers line up to the upcycled kitchen playset of Rafinesse & Tristesse, where kids rush straight to after entering the space –allowing dad or mum to buy peacefully. Kwon Kim, the creative head behind Yumalove has formerly worked as product manager for the likes of Puma, Adidas, Asics and Onitsuka Tiger. The store concept took shape when Kim was looking to combine both his experience in the sneaker business and his “young dad lifestyle”. Yumalove also wants to create synergies with other local creative forces. Hence, a capsule collection launching this October features not only Yumalove logo tees, but also bomber jackets made in cooperation with Berlin-based fashion label Sooph; backpacks made together with Swiss brand Vermala und a couple of red and blue baseball caps from New Era, where the abbreviation NY doesn’t stand for New York Yankees, but for Neukölln Yumalove. We talked with Kim about his unique concept and the key challenges in the retail sector at present.
What was important to you in terms of shopfitting for Yumalove?
We’ve been very careful that all the individual disciplines like design, construction, color arrangement and brand CI start together and jointly share the same goal and the same ideas. Thanks to experienced partners like Newschooldisplay, Studionel, Double Double, lalabuero up to the ERP system Inventorum, we were able to build and finalize the store in two months.
Good store design should not only look great, but also be functional. There needs to be supportive and aesthetic impulses from everyday use, so that the daily business can be run smoothly. Important is to offer a unique shopping experience and more importantly that the store design is a reflection of the brand DNA and values.
How would you describe the assortment? Which ones are the anchor brands?
Our range is unrivalled: Not only for the kids market, but also for the normal adult sneaker trade, since we have a great mix of casual brown shoes (Dr. Martens and Clarks Originals), cool hiking boots from The North Face offering, beach slippers and rubber boots from Native and the ‘usual suspects’ aka Puma, Converse, Vans, New Balance and Asics.
Hummel, Converse and Puma are working very well at the moment, but we also expect good sale figures for The North Face. Besides footwear, we offer colorful backpacks, lunchboxes and pencil cases from Herschel, the new Casio G-Shock S collection and functional sun hats from The North Face.
Mention five essential products that you can’t do without right now.
The North Face summer hat; Hummel Stadil Jr Velcro Lea; Puma Smash Fun Veclro; Converse Star Player; and New Balance K574.
How relevant are trade shows for you? Which ones are still mandatory to assist? Where else do you buy?
I attended Seek in Berlin, but I think trade fairs are no longer so important. I find inspiration, new products and ideas on various Internet platforms. We buy directly from the companies, now all companies are very well positioned, so that you can put together your very own stock relatively easy and quickly from the various B2B systems available.
Is there an online Yumalove shop in the pipeline?
Yes, it will be launched together with the capsule collection in October.
What makes your store special? What is the USP?
The Yumalove brand corporate identity, Yumlove LTD collection, the one-of-a-kind assortment and the positioning as exclusive kids concept store.
Is there a store model store for you? Any kind of shop worldwide that inspires you?
I have no particular shop as a model, but during my time at Asics I had very often the possibility and opportunity to fly to Tokyo. There were a lot of stores that have greatly impressed me by their attention to detail. One of them is Hollywood Range Market. Furthermore, I find the design firm Wonderwall very extraordinary and inspirational.
What are currently the biggest issues and topics among retailers?
The new positioning and transformation of large sport lifestyle companies. The withdrawal of their products from stationary multilabel stores to focus on their own store network, which represents a new competition to the existing, longtime cooperating retail partners.
What are the main challenges in the retail sector right now?
The giant Internet world, the huge machineries that sell everything online at any time and for very uncomplicated and cost-saving terms. The service is fading into the background. It's all about the pure maximization of consumption, which can fall under very difficult conditions in retail. Consumer behavior has changed so much that it is no longer about the "how" but only about the "what". As I shop, the talking, personal advice, open exchange, direct contact, all the interpersonal relationships during a purchase are no longer available, relevant and important as they were in the past.
What is the most important ingredient for successful retail?
A healthy mix of courage, patience, perseverance and creativity.