There’s a new kid on the block – at 299 South Street to be exact. Born from a need for something a bit different, Shoppe Object is Manhattans new independent home and gift show which debuted in 2018. Under one roof, in Lower East Side, 450 visionary brands and designers from around the world come together for three days to meet with some of our industries most progressive retailers.
Attending a trade show in NYC also makes a good excuse to squeeze in a few extra days to see a long lost cousin (who gave me a bed in exchange for a few kikois – yes, it’s true, it’s the one thing that you can’t find easily in America, unless you found our USA online store).
On return, I’m faced with the Mungo ‘write of passage’ to share this experience with you on our blog. I started scrolling through my phone image library looking for inspiration. It made me acutely aware of how perfectly i conform to the snap happy generation, with a total of 430 photos from the trip – most of which really need not be saved. After sifting through the many out-of-focus duplicates, here are 20 phone photos which will hopefully sum up 10 days in New York better than I can in words.
Aside from the weird cup size names and confusing, seemingly endless coffee options, it’s always with a small sense of anticipation that you wait to see how they’re going to spell your name this time.
My first love affair in New York were the water tanks, perched on stilt-like contraptions dotted across city’s skyline. Although they look like relics from a bygone era they are still very much in use today, taking advantage of gravity to funnel water into most of manhattans apartment blocks. I could have filled this whole blog with photos of water tanks.
There’s always someone that gets wind of the weekend you’ve tacked on and takes full advantage. “I’ve been looking for these canvas sailor pants for years” she says.
And if it’s not asking you to be their personal shopper then it’s finding out where you’re staying and promising that “it’s just a small parcel”.
Like any astute Zimbabwean does, I came prepared with an extra empty suitcase and made sure to book an airline that allows for that. But more alarming than seeing the monumental pile of boxes that somehow needed to make their way home was the fact that their contents didn’t even fill half of that extra suitcase. As consumers, we tend turn a blind eye to the environmental cost of all the excess packaging that is used in the growing global phenomenon that is online retail. As our own e-commerce platforms grow, we have made it our priority to minimise our packaging waste. We’re also looking for leads on manufacturers of plant-based, biodegradable bags in South Africa – if anyone has a contact please share it with us!
Day 3 and Merle arrives. We move to our Airbnb apartment in Bedford, Brooklyn.
Day 4 and it’s down to business. Three people come over to tell Merle she looks like Lynda Carter. She smiles unsurprised. She gets that a lot in America. It’s not so bad being mistaken for Wonder Woman and Miss World USA.
She’s a wonder woman when it comes to putting a stand together.
The intimacy of Shoppe Object sets it apart from some of the big, traditional international trade shows. The organisers bring a more curated approach to choosing which brands to showcase, and as exhibitors there is the overwhelming sense of being part of a like-minded, forward thinking community of makers. We’ll be back again in August for the Shoppe Object Summer Show, so if you know any super chic store owners in the USA that you think need to know about the best towels on the planet, let them know where to find us.