Try before you buy shop opens

Picture of Michael GhoshWithin days of Mary Portas' depressing report on the state of retail in the UK, a new company in London's Goodge Street was pushing a new form of business - it's really simple, you don't buy anything, you just take samples away. It's called Sample Trend and it's run by Michael Ghosh (pictured).
The idea for the customer is simple. You pay £60 a year - so that's £5 a month - and you get given five samples of goods. In the shop at the moment there are books on fitness, household cleaners, shaving cream from The Bluebeards (I can vouch for the quality of that one), gourmet coffee and many other items.

Some of the items are full-sized, full products and others are smaller samples but everything is usable and you're guaranteed to take away more than a fiver's worth of product every month.

Clients


The flipside is that you have to fill in a brief evaluation form on the products you've tried, and you won't get next month's products before you've done so. The manufacturers are paying for this as market research.

Ghosh says he will expand the idea to include services as well as goods - he's talking to a nearby barber, for example, who wants feedback on haircuts so will give vouchers as one of the monthly trial items (of course he hopes to gain new customers as a result, coming back for paid-for styling after the first freebie).

The concept started in Japan and has gone international. This is the first such store in the UK, and Ghosh chose London as the location because of the cross section of people who commute in.

In an environment in which the traditional retailer is shrinking as a breed, innovations like this - assuming enough people bite - are a possible way to prevent the High Street dying off completely as the world moves towards e-commerce.
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