Amsterdam is a big city. With a population of around 800,000 people in a city about the size of Waco, Texas, Amsterdam doesn’t have room for a huge car dealership in the heart of the city. In December, 2011 MINI opened the MINI Brand Experience store in Amsterdam. Do they sell MINIs? No, but they sell the experience and boat loads of merchandise. I had the privilege of being in Amsterdam recently and as I rounded the corner from Hotel La Boheme (Home to a wonderful house cat named Mimi who is sort of famous) I couldn’t miss the giant MINI signs in the windows.
One of the neatest things the MINI Experience in Amsterdam has are some genuine exclusives. For example, a Dutch artist created three different designs of MINI scarves available only at this location. Another artist created MINI socks with a grippy MINI lettering on the bottom.
There’s also the brown leather Duffy Bag which is textured like a basketball, Dutch chocolates in the shape of MINIs complete with contrasting white chocolate roofs, and exclusive MINI Amsterdam T-shirts. There’s even exclusive hockey sticks that look much different than what I think of as a hockey stick. Apologies for my lack of hockey knowledge but these look like the hockey stick equivalents to candlepin bowling – not nearly as large as one might expect.
Merchandising is a great way to increase brand awareness. As MINI owners we’re already invested in the brand, but seeing a store like this can make you feel like a kid in a candy store. It’s one thing to look at a product description on a page but it’s something different to see all three baby carriage colors lined up in a store like cars on a showroom floor. Besides, our local dealerships seldom have enough room to display one of every item MINI makes available so that makes a visit to this store a real treat. If the MINI Experience in Amsterdam left anything from the catalog off their showroom floor, it would be hard to know because it looks like everything that MINI has available is there to see, touch, smell and enjoy.
The next time you’re in Amsterdam, stop by the MINI Brand Experience store. It’s really hard to leave without picking up something. Trust me. I have MINI socks and my wife now has a MINI scarf. I also purchased one of the black and blue bags which not only fits lots of stuff but perfectly in the overhead bin on a plane and lets your MINI freak flag fly all through through the airport. It has quickly become my go-to travel bag for short term trips.
Special thanks to the staff at the store who graciously allowed me to shoot these photos. Until you can get there in person, have a look at some of the cool displays and merchandise: