Report • 16.04.2018

Only what the boss himself would wear makes it onto the clothes hanger

Visiting the Herrenbude in Köln-Ehrenfeld

Custom, authentic and exclusive – words that describe the product selection of the small fashion store called Herrenbude in Köln Ehrenfeld (a city district of the German City of Cologne). It’s a concept that is able to keep up with major fashion retailers in the future. A fact that the store’s owner Achim Schmitz taught us first-hand.

Photo: Only what the boss himself would wear makes it onto the clothes hanger...
Source: iXtenso/Günther

Köln-Ehrenfeld, Rothehausstraße: an avenue that’s lined with houses built during the Wilhelmine Period and the Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) Movement. I have no problem spotting the distinctive logo of the Herrenbude from a distance, which showcases a gentleman walking a pig.

Achim answers the door, welcomes me and dives right into the history of the building. “This used to be a bakery,“ he says. He wanted to maintain the building’s distinct flair, which is why the walls still feature tile work halfway up. The sales room of the rock it baby label (the label of Achim’s wife by the way) in the front of the store also harks back to where the sales counter of the bakery used to be: everything is staged in a truly stylish environment. Achim leads me through the former dough prep area into the old bakery or should I say, his Herrenbude (the name loosely translates into “man cave”). 

Achim
Achim says of himself: “Fortunately, I am blessed with a photographic memory, which allows me to recall faces and names. I typically know how often a customer has been to my store, which of our clothing items he already has in his wardrobe or what size he needs.“
Source: iXtenso/Günther

Herrenbude, a Christmas miracle

The Herrenbude has been around since 2008 – but things actually started Christmas 2006. Back then, Achim felt nostalgic and surfed the Internet to find the legendary Finnish footwear brand Karhu he remembered from his youth. “Until 1953, the sneakers featured three stripes and the company still owned the patent. According to company history, Karhu sold it to Adi Dassler for about one thousand dollars and two bottles of good whiskey.“ Unfortunately, Karhu no longer sells the Originals line made in Finland. But I am impressed that Achim knows all of these details.

He goes on and reveals that he is fascinated by these types of stories and has little by little started to collect them and research products. Prior to that, he worked as a creative producer on film and TV productions and assisted clients with a specific budget to find what they were looking for. “I thought, I might be able to do the same in a fashion setting. I know where to find the items, I love finding them, putting them together and making a pre-selection. When this space became available, I decided to give it a try.“ And thus the Herrenbude was born.

Photo
Source: iXtenso/Günther

From socks to tuxedos – Achim emphasizes complete contemporary men’s outfits

This is also how Achim came up with his job title “truffle hog of men’s fashion“. After all, his pre-selection is partially geared towards customer needs but is also based on what the boss would or wouldn’t want to wear himself. In today’s vernacular, you might call this curated shopping, albeit in a brick-and-mortar setting and with personal style consulting. I would call it “back to the roots“. This concept was a thing before the Internet, if anyone can still remember those times.

Watch the Herrenbude

Achim says, the Bude only features items that are powerful and make a fashion statement. “It’s my mission to beautify the city streets with well-dressed men. Based on experience, I give them a basic understanding of how they can build a classic wardrobe that makes sense,” Achim explains with a smile. He mostly sells casual apparel and sometimes brands that are not available in any other German store and come from Portugal or Wales for example. However, customers can also find green fashion brands at his store.

Over the years, Achim has expanded his product selection with suits and tailor-made clothing. There simply was a need and demand for it. “I notice that people are becoming less informed. I find it interesting. You would think that thanks to the Internet, they can research at any time how things are made, how they work etc. Yet when it comes to clothing, the market is very saturated and so fast-paced to where nothing sticks in people’s heads.“

“Classic and elegant men’s clothing has no age limit.“

Photo: Only what the boss himself would wear makes it onto the clothes hanger...
Source: iXtenso/Günther

The Herrenbude is open Tuesday through Friday 2 pm to 7 pm and Saturday 12 pm to 5 pm. Achim calls his business hours homeopathic. That’s because his customers often visit his store after work and because it gives him more time for research.

”We know what the customer wants“

Each customer receives personal service from the fashion lover. Young customers are sometimes confused by this and Achim often makes them try on items they might not like at first. “If I sense that the customer is unhappy with an item or it doesn’t fit him perfectly, I come right out and tell him. I also advise against purchases, even if it means one less sale for that day. In the long run, this type of consulting service builds trust. What’s more, this kind of shopping experience makes the articles of clothing more valuable. And if the price-performance ratio is great and the quality is excellent, it makes customers keep coming back.“

Achim‘s Herrenbude is not a standard concept where people just walk in and walk back out again. Customers simply have to commit to the experience, whether they want to or not. Taking two hours on a Saturday to visit the store, spending some time there talking to the sales associates, having a cup of coffee and ideally going home with a brand-new wardrobe – these types of concepts seem to become important again in the age of digitization.

Photo: Only what the boss himself would wear makes it onto the clothes hanger...

Word-of-mouth advertising also entices digital natives

What makes Achim so unique in my eyes is that he almost entirely forgoes online marketing. Sure, he has his own website where customers can find his products, publishes a monthly newsletter and has both a Facebook and Instagram account, but he doesn’t have an online store. He believes those channels are enough to be found on the Internet. He lovingly calls it "dabbling in the digital world but just as a reminder“.

He puts it in a nutshell: “I believe that at the end of the day, word-of-mouth is the only type of advertising that works for our concept. I notice this with our customers, who buy suits from us. On average, we custom-make 200 suits per year, of which 150 are either purchased by grooms or young men, who are groomsmen or guests at a wedding. Ultimately, these men end up here because the only well-dressed gentleman at another wedding told them where he purchased his suit – at my store.“

Achim says that online advertising doesn’t make any sense for his venue because you can’t have an online presence without a big advertising budget. He thinks the market has shot itself in the foot. I tend to agree with him. And Facebook proves him right: there is no visibility without a budget. Small businesses, in particular, find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the competition.

Patience, along with some tenacity and trend intuition are the strengths of the Herrenbude. After my visit to Achim’s store, I feel confident that these kinds of authentic concepts will revitalize the retail industry in the future. After all, even the best technology in the world will never be able to replace a great salesperson.

Achim feels confident that customers once again want to shop where they live and work.

Author: Melanie Günther

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Weekend unlimited concept store to open in California...
29.04.2019   #customer satisfaction #shop concepts

Weekend unlimited concept store to open in California

Retail store will include weekend live lounge & event space

Weekend Unlimited Inc. announces that it has secured a retail location in Long Beach, California to launch the company's first US concept store."It is essential to our growth plan that we establish multiple touch points for our offerings ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Good news for brick and mortar retailers
08.03.2019   #brick and mortar retail #in-store marketing

Good news for brick and mortar retailers

71 percent of shoppers are spending more in-store than online

Both men and women are spending significantly more in-store than online during a typical shopping visit according to a new report, by First Insight, Inc. The company, which recently surveyed consumers on shopping habits, purchase behavior and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Imaginative sales promotion – displays for the POS...
25.03.2019   #pos marketing #displays

Imaginative sales promotion – displays for the POS

The POPAI Award finalists 2019 in our photo gallery

This year's participants impress with their attentive designs, functionality and practical handling. The contestants demonstrate the wide-ranging possibilities a display offers for presenting products and attracting attention at the point of ...

Thumbnail-Photo: DOOH displays are engaging
01.04.2019   #digital signage #Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH)

DOOH displays are engaging

Consumers to seek out more information after seeing digital signage

The majority of U.S. consumers notice out-of-home digital video displays, according to “On-Site Insights,” a new study from Edison Research. In today’s media landscape where it is increasingly challenging for brands to reach ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Digital Marketing Forum
22.02.2019   #software developement #event

Digital Marketing Forum

Comprehensive, neutral, scientifically accompanied, critical

At the Digital Marketing Forum (DMF) on 06. and 07.03.2019 at the Stuttgart Media University, 18 proven experts from science and practice will explain the current status of methods, techniques and tools in digital marketing.With its program the DMF ...

Thumbnail-Photo: The customer is always right? Two customers might spell trouble!...
09.05.2019   #consulting #brick and mortar retail

The customer is always right? Two customers might spell trouble!

How salespeople can handle customers who bring company along

Customers rarely shop alone. Most of them shop with family or friends. The other person might not always be in a good mood, patient or friendly. Can the salesperson simply ignore the other person in these instances? How should he or she handle this ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Implementing new ideas: Design thinking in the retail world...
29.04.2019   #customer satisfaction #trend research

Implementing new ideas: Design thinking in the retail world

Focus on customer expectations

It may be uncomfortable at times – but a change in perspective can help businesses to implement new ideas and successfully complete ongoing processes. Design thinking is a customer-centric approach that can help in this endeavor.“What do ...

Thumbnail-Photo: The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin – a powerful customer magnet...
14.03.2019   #customer satisfaction #customer relationship management

The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin – a powerful customer magnet

Brand advertising with taps, creamy whitecaps, and hashtags

Just in time for Saint Patrick's Day, we turn our attention to arguably the favorite drink of the Irish: the iconic Guinness beer. Or, more precisely, the home of the stout: the Guinness Storehouse opened its doors in 2000 right in the heart of ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Footwear market expected to grow rapidly
15.03.2019   #trend research #brand management

Footwear market expected to grow rapidly

Application insights, latest trends, developments, and forecasts to 2021

Global Footwear Market is expected to grow at a significant CAGR in the upcoming years as the scope and its applications are rising enormously across the globe. Footwear is a garment worn on the feet to protect and comfort against adversities of the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Attracting customers to your retail store: location-based marketing...
03.06.2019   #customer satisfaction #digital marketing

Attracting customers to your retail store: location-based marketing

Right people, right place, right time: getting your customers' attention

“Check out this suede jacket that matches your pants and shoes." Once a customer is near the entrance of a fashion boutique, marketers deliver personalized promotions via hologram. After the customer has entered the store, the ...

Supplier

CCV Deutschland GmbH
CCV Deutschland GmbH
Gewerbering 1
84072 Au i.d.Hallertau
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
Celsiusstraße 43
53125 Bonn