I say bring back Oddbins – and not just because of my penchant for a nice glass of something interesting. Oddbins were one of the first to really ‘get’ retail theatre. Their franchisees had autonomy so every store felt slightly different in its tone and its environment – quirky local individuality, answering the needs of the community in which it sat, underpinned by a really strong brand DNA. They were the first to do staff recommendations, service felt attentive and human, people who knew their stuff and loved and enthused about their products. A perfect contender for a highly personalised online experience, alive with stories and opportunities to connect. Cheers!
I love the endorphin hit stimulated by interesting experiences. I’m not alone. The stores we’ve seen disappear have often lost that pioneering attitude that inspires purpose and breeds permission to make bold moves in a competitive high-street. Without being glib, I would love to see someone deliver an online experience that was genuinely interesting because of its impact on society (beyond a snazzy UI). Sadly we have to look back further than the high street I know, potentially as far back as Naukratis, the ancient Greek trading post. An ancient market that inspires the culture, traditions and architecture that surrounds us today.
The Athena poster shops of the mid 70s high streets – pre soft focus tennis girl and leaping dolphins – were the first introduction, to many of us growing up in those bleaker times, of the concept of accessible art.
Reproductions of Monet’s poppy fields, Dali’s dream worlds, Warhol screen-prints and of course airbrushed pop art coke bottles, were pinned up on thousands of wood chip covered teenage bedroom walls. They opened our creative and cultural minds, led to many seeking out the real works in galleries, or inspiring us to create our own suburban masterpieces.
Athena posters made art feel attainable and desirable. The importance of nurturing and inspiring creativity in schools has never been needed more, so a rebooted, accessible and affordable Athena online could certainly help.