Beauty shopping in Korea is a one of a kind experience. It's more than just the lip balm shaped like a blueberry or sheet masks infused with snail mucin. No—the shopping experience is much, much more experiential than that. Once you step inside a shop, every little detail, from the floor to the ceiling, that goes into crafting your shopping experience is painstakingly plotted and executed flawlessly. For those of you who've read about my Korean cafe experiences, you know what I'm talking about.
Now beauty brand shops in Korea have kicked it up a notch with "concept stores." They're usually much larger than their brand shops and they definitely provide more than just larger retail space for their products.
When I went to Seoul recently, I made it a point to stop by the Skinfood concept store located in Garosugil. Garosugil is one of the most expensive pieces of real estate, a trendy tree-lined street that reminds me of Shibuya in Japan or even SoHo. Many mainstream Korean beauty brands are finding a home for their shops here. When I saw that the Skinfood concept store was on the main strip and the entire building, I knew they had gone all out for this shop!
The First Floor
Despite its mammoth size, Skinfood's new shop wasn't intimidating at all, and the vibes were really fun and casual—you're invited to play with products! It's laid out similarly to a typical store but the decor and product display is almost like you stepped in your own airy bedroom or kitchen. Products are lined up on cutting boards, just a subtle reminder that you are shopping for skin care products infused with edible ingredients such as sugar, cucumbers and milk. After all, their brand philosophy is that the products you would eat to nourish your body are also good for your skin!
So I lied. It's not just retail. There's s a fun "Beauty Lucky Ball" machine where I can try to grab one of Skinfood's many products—it's pretty much just like one of those claw arcade games!
No luck. No surprise here—I was never good at these things...
The Second Floor
Now this floor is filled with food you can actually eat! Healthy snacks like dried fruit and almonds are on display and are available for purchase like a grocery store. I thought this was a perfect touch to drive home the Skinfood "feed your skin" philosophy.
This floor also had a mini cafe, serving snacks like mini sandwiches and fresh squeezed lemonade. The men who served me wore cute little bows and aprons. I wanted to take a photo of them but I was too shy at the time. :)
I went for the sweet and tangy lemonade which was fizzy and had freshly crushed mint. Just look at that presentation!
The Third Floor: An outdoor garden and deck!
An outdoor patio surrounded by a garden and lawn chairs where you can enjoy the outdoor breeze, and in this case, my fresh lemonade!
I bet concept stores like this have sky-high rent and upkeep, but what beauty flagship stores don't, really? Not to say that large amusement-park-scale stores aren't worth it! This experience is exactly why Korean beauty is so exciting. Skin care is not just about a product—it's about a lifestyle and a philosophy! I'm expecting more brands to come out with concept stores and experiences like Skinfood's in the coming years.
Anyone visited a concept store before? Is there a store that has ever blown you away?