Retail notes from Zurich: Changemaker – Holy Cow!

Last week I spent another few days in Zurich. Whilst walking around the city center I came across two very cool places. Both locations caught my attention not just because of their attractive merchandise, but also because of the unusual retail concept.

Changemaker opened in Markgasse 10 in Zurich around 3 ½ years ago; the company has another five stores in German-speaking Switzerland – in Thurn, Wintherthur, Lucerne, Berne and Basel.

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The store sells clothes, accessories, cosmetics, interior design, stationery, confectionery and a whole load of other things. Everything retailed in Changemaker comes from small companies, independent design labels, manufactories or charities; all products are organic and/or fair-trade and/or eco-friendly and/or upcycled and each brand has a unique story to tell. I love this kind of store!

The brands come from all over the world but there are also many labels from Switzerland and these I found particularly interesting. Amongst the beauty brands available in Changemaker Zurich – which include Pangea Organics, Hurraw! and Priti NYC from the US, Greenland from Holland and Stop the Water While Using Me! from Germany – were two charming Swiss brands, Cocooning from Bavois in canton Vaud and Robert & Josiane from Winterthur in canton Zurich.

Cocooning was founded by Fabienne Frei in 2005. The brand manufactures soaps and body care products with regional Swiss ingredients. Products include a range of balms packaged in cute little tins, a baby care range and – believe it or not – a dog shampoo bar and a special balm for dogs’ paws.

And Robert (a biologist) and Josiane (a teacher) founded their brand in 1999. Products are more or less unisex and the portfolio includes a shower gel, body lotion and shampoo, face oil, tonic, bath oil, aftershave balm, leg oil, two bar soaps and a face cream. Gorgeous ingredients and beautiful packaging.

Changemaker also has an online shop which, unfortunately, only delivers within Switzerland. What I particularly like is that they also have regular events in their stores, where customers can meet the founders of some of the brands.

The second place I discovered is called Holy Cow!  and it’s a rather cool burger bar. What I liked about this place (aside from the very respectable burgers!) is the strong emphasis on regional heritage – the beef comes from Switzerland, as does the bread and the beverages.

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As many ingredients as possible are locally sourced and this is communicated very clearly to the customer. On the walls of the restaurant are photos of the people who produce some of the raw materials, so to speak – you can admire a portrait of the guy who bakes the burger buns or meet the guys who manufacture the syrup for the drinks.

Holy Cow! was founded in Lausanne (the chain has two outlets in Lausanne, two in Geneva and one in Lille) and the Zurich outlet on Zähringerstrasse 28 opened fairly recently. The restaurant has a comfortable and relaxed feel to it, long trestle tables with strategically placed ketchup bottles and napkins; wooden benches and a great big syrup machine where you can get free refills (the Swiss like to drink syrup mixed with mineral water, a bit like the “diabolo” in France).

Anime-inspired burger illustrations everywhere, indie rock on the sound system and a very cool selection of international burgers – Maui Maui with pineapple, Yo Ginza with teriyaki sauce and wasabi mayo, Viva Espana with goats’ cheese, honey and chorizo sausage, Bacon Avocado or Satay Beef with satay sauce and basil-and-lime mayo.

You can get a whole range of additional toppings, most of the beef burgers are also available as a chicken variant and there are three veggie burger options. If you find yourself anywhere near a Holy Cow!, go and try it!

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Filed under Retail, Store Profiles, Travel, Trends

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