Phillip and Oliver are the minds behind Shopikon, a new digital guide and App to shop locally worldwide. Oxymoron? Not at all! This guides are a celebration of independent stores and uniqueness.
You can do your search by categories (Accessories, Books&Music, Children, Clothing, Food, Health&Beauty, Home&Design, Markets or Other), or by neighbourhood, obviusly depending on the city you are searching. Currently they have guides for London, Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Vienna, New York, and San Francisco. The fact that they list shops on their guides based on high standards (and for free) it's a good sign that at Shopikon there is no room for mediocrity.
The mix of beautiful images, simple interface and quality writing was good enough to spend hours searching on Shopikon, but their shop selection is so exquisite that even if I have found out about it just a couple of weeks ago (shame on me!), my custom made maps have become a can't-live-without tool.
They were kind enough to answer a few questions here:
How did the idea for Shopikon come up?
P-I was traveling in Japan in 2009 when I was looking online for design stores in Tokyo and to my great astonishment almost nothing came up. While the internet is full of guides for restaurants and general sightseeing spots, shops seemed to be the most overlooked corner of the travel/blog world.
You are from Vienna but you are based in New York, still most of the cities you cover are in Europe, is it difficult to organise the shop search?
It's not easy. While our research is very work intensive, it's the only way to ensure that we can maintain our high standards.
You simply cannot judge a store by its website or press photos. You have to be inside the place. Pick up the products, get a feeling for the atmosphere, the service, the lighting and mission statement.
We generally visit every city at least twice a year and then spend hours walking around every day, which can be very rewarding as you always discover new neighborhoods and truly experience things like a local.
Your project aims to offer a global approach to local quality shopping, do you think this kind of shops will survive the scary globalisation?
Absolutely. Chain stores can never replace the diversity and abundance of charm of locally owned places. We believe that there is a place for both.
But at the same time, small shops need our help. They don't have the luxury to spend a lot of money on marketing and tend to hide in quaint little side streets.
Especially tourists need to be made aware of, how they can escape the 5th avenue's, oxford street's and champs élysées of this world.
|Shopikon team (from left, Phillip and Oliver)|
Your App service is free, as well as your website, can your users trust your independence?
We get lots of emails every day of places that want to be listed, even chain stores. But we are incredibly picky in what makes our selection. Shopikon clearly distinguishes itself from the booklets you find in many shops that only list paid and therefore often mediocre places.
All our shops get listed for free, to ensure we get all the great places on board. We will however offer services this fall that will allow shops to interact more with their customers. But to answer your question: yes, no one can buy their way into Shopikon.
How can a person know the price ranges in the shops you recommend? What do the stars mean?
The stars represent the average user rating. We are working on a system right now that will allow users to assess the price range of stores.
Which are your favourites shops in the world? (it would be great if you could let me know for each of you three)
|R.S.V.P in Berlin - courtesy of Shopikon|
|Natalie Capell Barcelona - courtesy of Shopikon|
Julian (contributor)-Living in london for two and a half years i was lucky to get to know some of the people involved in ln-cc. I am not able to afford most of what they have but the vibe and feel of the store is really something different. Also their music selection is excellent, and they're all together really nice people.
I also really love Baerck in Berlin. Again, the people who run it are supernice, they change the set-up of the store every couple weeks it seems...you can tell they love what they're doing.
Are your guides address to the design-savvy only?
Even though one might think that at the first glance, Shopikon features every kind of store. Whether a butcher, flower store or and old stamps shop.
The places can be run down at times, as long as the products are carefully selected and the owner knows his stuff.
What are your plans for Shopikon for the future? Paper version maybe?
We will definitely bring out a paper version in the near future and have been talking to a few interested publishers.We haven't decided on the final format. Also we will add new cities next year and bring out exciting features.
What's the meaning behing "Shopikon", was it difficult to find a name that you all liked?
You bet ;). There isn't much left in terms of domain names, which explains the "k". All of our shops are icons of retails and it's extremely gratifying to find and feature them.
Wanna hear more? You can stay tuned through their Facebook page.
And if you think you could be one of their contributors, check their requirements:
Our contributors have to have two key qualifications.
1) they have to love and know their city. We rely on them to keep us up to date and in touch with what is happening.
2) they have to be excellent writers. Our text are as important as our photos, we want them to really bring across the emotions and feeling of every place and find out why the store exists.