By Speakap's content marketing director, Matt Warnock
I know it’s not cool for a man to say this, but I like clothes. I also like football, movies, working out and drinking beer, but I find following men’s fashion intriguing and dressing well makes me feel good. There… I admit it!
One of the upshots of this interest is that, when I visit different cities, as well as indulging in pastimes like extremely long walks through the neighbourhoods and trying to find the best beer and ribs the place has to offer, I like to pop into a few cool (pre-researched, of course) stores.
For me, it’s not really about buying as much as getting a sense of the different trends striking a chord locally. As city centres increasingly resemble each other, it’s in these edge-of-town privately-owned boutiques that you get a real sense of a city’s individual style.
Which is a long self-justification for why an old friend and I found ourselves in The Dudes Factory in Berlin last weekend. Selling high quality print t-shirts and hoodies that combine influences from street style, graffiti, skateboarding, tattoos and music, I was pre-destined to love the clothes and found it tough to narrow my selection down to one tee and sweatshirt, while my friend also picked up a t-shirt. The location itself is a joy - spacious, effortlessly cool but laid out with the care of an art gallery.
The guy in the store, a laidback French “dude” called Tristan, showed us where we could try stuff on, offered advice on what looked good and the right sizes to buy, and even cracked open a bottle of IPA each while we were making our decisions.
While he was bagging up our purchases and we were handing over credit cards, he told us which other stores we should visit, as well as local bars and restaurants he’d recommend. The beers were free of course, but he also threw in a beanie hat I’d been eyeing up last minute and placed it all in a branded tote bag that usually cost a couple of euros extra.
We left very happy and my friend, who usually hits the high street for new gear, couldn’t believe what a great “experience” it was to shop at The Dudes Factory. Given what I do for a living, it left me reflecting on what it was that made it such a great experience and I came up with four thoughts:
- It’s not that I got things for free, it’s that I felt like I’d made a friend. Sure, it’s always nice to get something for nothing, but feeling acknowledged and valued as a customer was the real differentiator. I felt like I was a small part of the brand.
- The challenge is for bigger brands to deliver the same experience as smaller boutiques - it’s this personal contact and small adventure that provides the benefit that physical retail has over online.
- It turns out that Tristan is the brother of a co-owner and the main designer of The Dudes Factory. He’s part of The Dudes family. In other words, we were served by a highly engaged employee who believes in the brand and wants to (and is trusted to!) deliver its value to us. Again, this sets the bar that bigger retailers need to rise to. Is it worth retailers going the extra mile? Take a look at The Dudes Factory’s Instagram and look at all the amazing comments they get about Tristan and you’ll have your answer.
- The Dudes Factory holds parties, live music nights, and has a pop-up restaurant. In other words, the brand stands for something and has created a community around its owners, employees, customers and location. Which translates to a uniquely kick-ass customer experience.
If you’re interested in checking out this customer service, grabbing a beer with Tristan and maybe picking up a cool tee, The Dudes Factory is located at Kastanienallee 87, 10435 Berlin.