*notcot in travel , 19:27

First National Geographic Retail Store- 11.13.08

natgeomain.jpgOk, i need a teleportation device. Please! Today, National Geographic opens their first retail space and it is a 3 story 1,800 square metre world of its own on London’s Regent Street. We were lucky enough to get an invite to the launch party, but i was unlucky enough not to be able to teleport over for this stunning event! However, my sister, Justine (Rugenius) and her boyfriend, were kind enough to take a break from her PhD thesis writing to pop over and give us her take of it… and i think her animal loving, scientifically minded side really came out and fell in love with the space! She even has me excited about the upcoming talks, as well as dying to go shop the store in person…

So here’s the deal, she’s done a very thorough, visual walkthrough of the store for you on the next page, and she sent me SO many pictures that i’ve pulled out a few for the post, but you can view them all in Gallery NOTCOT. A few standout things to take note of? The layouts! Incredibly fun use of crates, industrial feeling containers, gorgeous gallery spaces… no one will be able to resist going into the magical red chamber with the GIANT block of ice to try on cold weather gear, and see where their heat is escaping on the screen… it looks like whether you’re planning a trip, looking for an adventure, or just escaping for a quick snack, this museum-esque store is going to be a hit. So, check out our first look on the next page!

As reported by Justine!
National Geographic is opening their first ever retail store in London’s Regent Street this Friday at 10am. I was offered a peek behind those doors last night and dutifully deliver the report.

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In understanding the concept of the store, I think it is best described as a museum, where you can buy everything. Much of the store’s stunning three story 1,800 square metres function as gallery spaces which hold what can only be described as exhibits. The pieces within these galleries (which include photographs, artifacts and sculptures) capture not only artistic beauty, but also natural history and human cultures. Moreover, like a gallery or museum, all of the items are unique and exhibits will be regularly changing and evolving. The cases used to display items throughout the store were also used to evoke an almost reverential museum setting, and are remarkably like the cabinets of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum.

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The area which I found most impressive was the auditorium. This space is gradually stepped and lined with wheeled crates containing small gifts and artifacts, much like those you might expect in a museum store. However, the items are displayed in these cases so they can be easily packed up to allow the space to house weekly public lectures from a vast range of National Geographic’s team (explorers, authors, photographers, etc) as well as screening films.

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The first floor also houses the café, which serves tapas (pinchos last night), which were tasty nibbles. The café prides itself in serving slow food, using organic and fair trade ingredients, and would be a welcome haven after a lecture or as an escape from the busy Regent Street shopping scene.

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The first floor housed “nice” travelling clothes, designed for the traveler (with features such as pick-pocket proof pockets), but not designed for jungle-bashing or climbing Everest. On the same floor was the book and map shop, filled with travel related books, guides and maps. Across from this was a long table at which travel agents would be able to help customers plan their next adventure.

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Also on the first floor, but unfinished, was the area housing all the fun toys: cameras, sunglasses, telescopes and other techy gizmos. I hear they are working on a chamber where you can test sunglasses, but I am not sure how soon that will be ready.

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The basement floor sold more clothing and travel accessories, but of the more rugged variety. The highlight of the floor and indeed the evening for many, was a temperature controlled test chamber, where a block of ice was maintained for demonstrative purposes. Customers will be able to try on their clothing, set the conditions within the room (wind gusts, temperature changes, etc) to match their destination and see how the equipment fare. The room is also equipped with an infrared camera, so you can actually see where you’re losing or gaining heat.

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The only disappointment for me was the children’s section. Perhaps too much of a kid at heart, the children’s section was a bit small and claustrophobic, despite having some great science kits.

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Speaking of which, lest I forget the gift… First a bit of background. One of National Geographic’s strongest points as an organization is its generous support and close ties to research. A particularly ambitious project of their group, is the Genographic project, a collaboration with IBM to better understand human origins. In keeping with this theme, in our goodie bags, we each received information about the project and a test kit which we can use to trace our own histories. Now the question is…whose do we want to know? See more about the gift and unboxing here.

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But I digress, in short, the new National Geographic shop manages to do a little bit of everything. It is part natural history/anthropology museum, gallery, lecture theater, café, book shop, tech shop, outdoors shop. But perhaps a little bit like us, seems to pull off the mix quite well! For those of you in London, this is a shop worth checking out (particularly in January when the public lectures start). For those of you not out here, the wait may not be long. A second store in Singapore is set to open before the new year, plans are also underway to open stores in Berlin, Istanbul and other locations.

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Want more? Check out the full press release HERE! More pictures at Gallery NOTCOT!

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8 Notes

Great presentation. All products look exciting and “special” in this unique environment. CONGRATULATIONS!. I wish NG lots of success with this new brand initiative. Looking forward to personally visiting you soon.

----- javier duran 02.12.08 06:10

Hello, I work at the store here its the 1st in the world in that it is genuinely from National Geographic. You see this year is their 120th anniversary and to celebrate they decided to open this retail store. The other shops the like of which in Australia, they are not licenced with National Geographic, this store in London is the worlds 1st ‘retail store’ the other places are not actually National Geographic, if you get in contact with headquarters they will tell you about it in more detail. But as it stands the store in London is the first official retail store, soon to have more built world wide.

----- Howard Bromle 23.11.08 14:32

Looks Amazing!! Think il go tomorrow!! Hope they are open on sundays?

----- AnDy 22.11.08 12:42

Oh Diane, you’re right. My mistake. :P
Still, great stores..

----- emxero 17.11.08 15:55

Congratulation for the photo report. It express the spirit of the ” More than a Store”

Ciao Gianni

----- Gianni Baylo 16.11.08 04:08

Um…in Oz we actually have Australian Geographic stores, not Nat. Geo.

----- Mark Kalch 15.11.08 12:19

Oh my! The store looks absolutely wonderful! I’m wishing I could teleport over the atlantic ocean right now! I do hope they record the lectures and post them online.

----- Diane 15.11.08 05:39

Hi there.

Firstly, I just want to say that I love your site. I’m a little confused though, we’ve had National Geographic stores in Australia since I was young. They’re great stores. They don’t look as stylish as the one you’ve posted here, but nevertheless fun stores to browse around & full of interesting stock.

----- emxero 14.11.08 10:59

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