Another novel use for an empty shop – this week we take a look at the StadsGarderobe (‘City Wardrobe’) in the centre of Groningen, Netherlands, that has been transformed into a ‘central wardrobe’ for the city.
A friendly cross between a luggage locker and a cloakroom – daytime visitors to Groningen can simply check in their coat, bag or other things they don’t wish to carry whilst they go about their business. Daytime shoppers can check in their purchases so that they are not weighed down with bags whilst they continue shopping – or if they have come to shop and then go clubbing they can check their daytime trappings until the end of the evening. Similarly, clubbers can leave their heavy winter jackets and coats before an evening’s bar-hopping, without being encumbered or having to check them in at separate venues for multiple cost.
Groningen is a small university city in the north of the Netherlands, where many urban core functions are concentrated in the city centre. All of the clubs, bars and restaurants are situated very close together in just a couple of connected streets, making it possible to visit multiple bars on the same night, without having to put on a heavy overcoat between each. Previously people always left their coat at a seat or bar stool somewhere in the first bar they visited, before venturing to others. This used to result in hoards of drunk students, invariably in various states of intoxication trawling back around the places they had been looking for their stuff at the end of the evening.
Using this system there was always a chance that they wouldn’t get their coat back – either because they couldn’t find them or they had been stolen by others – the situation was so bad, up to 8,000 people lost their jackets or coats per year in Groningen’s bars and clubs – so a group of students decided to take action by setting up the StadsGarderobe as a new business.
The City Wardrobe shop has room for 1,500 items and is open all night until 7am from Tuesdays to Saturday. On Sundays and Mondays it is only open during the day. It costs a very reasonable 1.50 euros to store a jacket or coat and they also report lost and found items which are handed into them over the course of the working day via Twitter and Facebook. Repeat trade is encouraged via a ‘lottery’ using the tickets that people already have for their checked items. The store is also used to launch small give-away or promotion campaigns for other local businesses.