What better way to kick off 2022's Holiday Shopping season than with an Innovative Retail Adventure through Chicago's iconic Magnificent Mile! We're so lucky to have this retail gem in our backyard. During Chicago's rebirth (after the great fire), developers felt the city needed a wide avenue similar to the Champs-Élysées in Paris, and Michigan Avenue was chosen (source). Today, Mag Mile has one of the highest concentrations of flagship retail in the US and is a must-see if you're in the Chicago area.
We started our adventure at Starbucks Reserve Roastery. This stunning build-out is the world's largest Starbucks and features an "Experiential Coffee Bar." If you're familiar with the Mag Mile, you'll know The Roastery moved into the former Crate & Barrel building. Did you also know the Roastery may not have happened without the long-time friendship between the founders of Crate & Barrel (Gordon Segal) and Starbucks (Howard Schultz)? Read more here: https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2019/how-a-chance-meeting-paved-the-way-for-the-chicago-roastery/
Our favorite sights to take in along the Mag Mile are the art installations - from the oversized holiday wreaths made of shoe forms in Salvatore Ferragamo's windows to the "Run Chi" mosaic by Jim Bachor in Niketown. These installations always inspire creativity!
We visited Apple's Mag Mile location - which was abuzz with activity. It seemed a good portion of Chicago's remote workforce was cranking away in the stadium seating. Who could blame them with the stunning views of the Chicago River? The high energy continued downstairs with an active "Session" on how to take the perfect photo on your iPhone. The act of "retail" feels almost like an afterthought here. There are no price tags (the Apple consumer isn't shopping based on price). To even get to a salable product, you have to pass through the seating area and lecture hall - through the active Genius Bar consults. This is not a "store" - it is a lifestyle - a shrine to the Apple ecosystem.
Did someone say dessert?! We couldn't resist popping into the Museum of Ice Cream. This is "research" after all, and nothing says "immersive experience" quite like hot dog flavored ice cream. MOIC is a great way to break up your holiday shopping spree (and snag a pic or two for insta).
We had such an inspiring day exploring some of Chicago's finest in retail and design. As we left, we could see city workers setting up for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. An advertised "one million lights" will help us get through the cold Chicago winter ahead.