Mr Brown’s Specs & Beans, Eindhoven
Nieuwe Emmasingel 16 5611 AM Eindhoven Nederland
DKLV and Nick Rijper, Hilversum
On our recent food tour of Europe we popped over to Eindhoven to check out the new De Bijenkorf Kitchen and the new Albert Heijn XL store – both groundbreaking new global concepts (and both featured here).
As we always do, we took a wander around town to check out the retail and spotted something wonderful…
Mr Brown’s Specs & Beans is an innovative and expert optical brand which combines expert service with great brands and a cool coffee lounge.
A family business, owned by industry veteran Ron de Bruin and his two sons, Mr Brown’s Specs & Beans owes its name both to the family surname, but also because it sits in the ‘Old Brown Building’ opposite the ‘White Lady’ of the Philips building (Eindhoven is called the City of Light as it is the home of Philips Lighting).
Given that there are four other mainstream Opticians within walking distance, Mr Brown’s is a textbook example of how to differentiate yourself in a crowded market. There are five elements to success…
Firstly, the product. They stock some of the coolest (and most premium) brands around – from Thom Browne and Dita to ultra cool Berlin brand Mykita. We haven’t seen such a curated collection of really cool brands in one place anywhere in the world, making this a really unique offer. The prices at the top end are eye watering, but there is a also solid range of affordable and design literate frames.
Secondly, the service; which is genuinely expert. From the eye tests done in store, to the specialist Variulux eye tracking technology and personalised frame and face fitting, this is simply the best place in town. In an age where we increasingly search out the enthusiastic expert, this feels like a reassuring investment in your eye health.
Technology is used to streamline the service; the high tech optical kit is state of the art, but the touchscreen tables are not used as a tech gimmick but as a sales tool that allows the staff to demonstrate the benefits of different lens types.
Design is also key to the experience, with crafted modular units in sleek wood, touchscreens inset into long tables and stylish furniture.
Finally, the ‘Beans’. The store inherited a Douwe Egberts Cafe which takes up half the space. It’s a comfy and stylish lounge making it one of the best places to stop and relax in town.
The synergy is obvious, as the cafe turns the store from being a specialist store into a regular destination.
We call this trend hybrid hospitality. It’s the future of retail.