Shhh! Selfridges' 'Silence Room' Quiets Brand Noise

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If that peaceful New Year, New You feeling is already a distant memory, Selfridges has just the ticket. The London-based retailer has introduced a “No noise” campaign, complete with Silence Rooms in stores, as well as Quiet Shops, a store-within-a-store haven where salespeople whisper. Minimalist clothing, mostly simple black-and-white separates, is also available. 

Even brand noise has been muffled, with logos wiped clean from items by Crème de la Mer, Levi’s, Beats by Dre, and even foods, including ketchup, beans and Marmite. (The idea is that the calmer, de-branded items are, in a sense, “collectors items,” it explains.) The store has gone so far as to take the logo off its signature yellow bags. 

Throughout the store, it’s also installed Headspace pods, where shoppers can sit and listen to short, guided meditations.

And each Sunday through February, it is scheduled to present “Idle Sunday” lectures from its “Idler University,” with such themes as the Poetry of Silence, Fishing and Silence, Low-Effort Parenting and the Pleasures of Cloud Spotting. 

Interestingly, it’s not only not a new idea, it’s as old as the store. Turns out founder Harry Golden Selfridge created a Silence Room when the store’s Oxford Street flagship first opened back in 1909, to give shoppers someplace to “retire from the whirl of bargains and the build-up of energy," the retailer explains on its minisite. “We think we need it now more than ever, so are bringing it back as part of our No Noise initiative. 

Meanwhile, old Selfridge himself, a Wisconsinite who ended up in London by way of Marshall Field & Co., is the subject of “Mr. Selfridge,” a 10-part ITV miniseries that some had promised would give “Downton Abbey” a run for its corseted money. Alas, Brits are underwhelmed so far, and can’t quite imagine how the show will limp along for its full schedule. Groused one critic: "Perhaps a later episode will reveal the dramatic tale of how the store came to lose its apostrophe.”

Tags: europe, retail, uk
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