Magasin Populaire owner Barbara Petry explains why Cologne is the best city to own a store, what she loves about Scandinavian brands and why Instagram is so important for her.
What’s the story behind your store?
That’s a longer story. First, it was not planned at all. At that time I was working in the music industry but it was time for a change to work on my own. I started to work as a translator and opened my first French music café. As I always loved traveling and buying clothes, my boyfriend and I started to buy clothes during our travels. First for our friends and then we opened up an independent fashion boutique where we were selling only unique items mostly from Berlin and Cologne designers. That was the very beginning. After three years I moved to the Belgian quarter and started Magasin Populaire 11 years ago.
What are the most important ingredients for successful retail?
Authenticity and innovation.
What are your bestsellers right now?
Scandinavian brands like mbyM are selling quite well. But also our organic brand armedangels from Cologne and our own brand Good Morning Cologne. Bestselling items are high-waist jeans shorts, dresses, jumpsuits and sunglasses. My favorite brand is Mio Animo from Berlin.
Which silhouettes and washings are selling well?
It’s actually changing from slim silhouette to the mom trouser in a lighter blue washing.
Which new brands did you recently add to your assortment?
New is the jewelry brand Bon Kiosque from Germany; Pom, a scarf brand from the Netherlands; and Be soap my friend, an organic handmade beauty product from Austria.
Are your clients looking for special brands or are they more spontaneous buyers?
I think that my clients like to get inspired by the shop and the team.
Where do you buy your products? Where do you find inspiration?
I am looking for new brands while I am traveling and I buy either directly at the fashion fair or in showrooms. I get my inspiration on my journey, in magazines and on Instagram.
What do you like about Cologne?
I just love my ’hood. The quarter is super-alive from the early morning till late at night. The shop is surrounded by bars, restaurants, clubs, galleries and other cool shops. People like to hang out in the streets. Our clients are totally relaxed and easygoing. It’s lively and cozy at the same time. What more can I say?
Do you have an online shop? Are you active on social media?
Our online shop is called sugartrends where I present some special items from Magasin Populaire. On social media we are super-active. We are on Facebook and Instagram. Each week we organize our own photo shoots with photographers to present what we have in the shop. I like that our customers know what’s going on.
Do you have a store that serves as a role model? Which shops inspire you?
Not really. But I love to travel to Copenhagen to get inspired as I am in love with Scandinavian brands and the whole lifestyle. It’s always cool but in a sense that it seems almost normal. One of my favorite shops is Norse Store.
Brüsseler Pl. 8
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