PARIS — Le Bon Marché is airing out its attic, now home to an enlarged and refurbished space for its kids’ department.
“We pushed the walls out, we added windows, we expanded the space and opened it up to daylight, so it’s a real change,” said Laurence Dekowski, who heads the children’s section of the Paris department store, which belongs to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
The six-month project yielded 30 percent more room, and the department now spans more than 17,000 square feet. There is also a place for activities — with people to mind children while their parents shop — as well as a book section and vintage carousel pieces from the Fifties and Sixties, including a caravan, a BMW, a bus and a helicopter, chosen with not only young people in mind, but adults as well.
As consumers continue to embrace the convenience of online shopping, traditional retailers keep feeling the pressure to find ways to drum up traffic for their stores. This has included more services for consumers in businesses ranging from grocers to boutiques selling luxury goods.
Dekowski described how merchants filled the L-shaped space, which begins with a section for babies piled with stuffed animals and outfits.
“Throughout the space, we have positioned certain elements that speak to children as well as evoke a bit of nostalgia for parents. They are playful — kids can get into the BMW and the bus, too, so there’s an interactive side, too. And for the bigger folks, there’s a photo booth made out of natural wood — it’s free and you get a ticket you can use to order prints online, in color or poster form,” she explained, pulling out a ticket featuring a black-and-white mug shot of herself.
“It’s a concept that is 100 percent Bon Marché. There are no brand shops, it is only space that is our own,” she explained. The toy section features light wood shelves built to resemble carts being pulled by the vintage toy car.
The books are held in a giant flying saucer imagined by the store’s team of architects.
Apparel runs along the sides of the space, except for a new, bigger shoe section that covers the entire width, featuring yellow, black elements and light wood.
The reasoning behind the revamp?
“Family is very important to Le Bon Marché. We have a lot of local clients, so it’s a store for different generations. Our clients often came with their parents and their grandparents, which is something we want to maintain,” said Dekowski.
But sometimes people want a little free time to shop without the kids, she noted, which is where the activities come in.
“This fits with the idea of making our clients’ lives easier and at the same time, being a Paris store. It seemed important for us to offer this service,” she said.