So what exactly does a “concept shop” stock?

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[This entry originally appeared on Clare Lynch’s blog, goodcopybadcopy]

My last post about the word “leverage” got me thinking about more words and phrases that should be banned. Here’s another: “concept shop”.

I’ve noticed this one cropping up more and more in press releases from “designery” shops – presumably because the word “designer” has lost its sales power through overuse. (That’s the thing about marketing language – it’s naturally inflationary. A simple “dinner” becomes a “dining experience”, which in turn becomes “the ultimate dining experience” – see my previous post).

Now that every other item with a price tag seems to have the word “designer” attached to it, something more impressive was needed for those wanting to stay ahead of the retail game. (Though when you think about it, pretty much everything you buy has been designed at some point – that humble tin of beans in your kitchen cupboard is surely a masterpiece of engineering.)

When I first heard the phrase “concept shop”, I had visions of a hypermarket decorated with signs saying things like:

“Today only – three for two on all Hegelian Dialectics!”

“Theories of Relativity – General £5, Special £10”

“Free pack of Occam’s Razors with every purchase”

(And please feel free to post your suggestions for other signs that might be found in a “concept shop”).

So what, in fact, does a concept shop stock? Alas, it tends to be exquisite little nic-nacs with an eye-watering price tag attached, usually chosen by a “design maven” or “taste setter” with an eye for picking up mark-up-able tat on her many travels.

I suspect the phrase “concept shop” was first coined in a PhD in “Retail Theory” from one of the newer universities – or what I once heard Will Self describe as “the Des O’Connor University of Shoplifting”. (If that makes me sound snobby, you should know that I spent six grinding years at a very old university writing a PhD in something highly obscure and academic, which is exactly how PhDs should be).

If you’re the sort of person who can be persuaded that shopping is an intellectual pursuit requiring serious brain exercise, then I guess you deserve to be ripped off in a “concept shop”.

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