Dispatch: Hutspot, the Ultimate Dutch Omnibrand
One of the best aspects of the residency program, in my view, is the fact that I get to go to a different office every day. I’m planted at a coffee shop for most of my day, before heading home to video-conference with the team in Buffalo. There are many, many, many coffee shops here. No, not those coffee shops; I mean yes, those coffee shops, too. I mean actual shops that sell coffee. (You’re naughty.)
One of my self-imposed rules for this trip is that I (try my best to) not visit the same place twice. That’s easy to do here, since, despite a surprisingly small urban footprint and the fact that most buildings are only three stories tall, it’s still a dense city. Every unit is narrow, and so each block is packed with stores, markets, offices and yes, coffee shops. (I’ll do a coffee-only post at some point, I promise.)
I break this rule at one location, however. That’s because it’s such a comfortable and unique place to sit and work, and frankly, some days I just need to crank out copy. (Repeat to self: I’m not on vacation. I’m not on vacation. Must go to work! Must go to work!) Hutspot to the rescue!
Located a 3:30-minute-song-walk away from my apartment, Hutspot is more than a neighborhood coffee shop. It’s what I’ll call an omnibrand: a single brand, often at a single address, that offers many different kinds of products and experiences, each one fitting under an umbrella of value and brand loyalty.
It’s possible someone else in the world uses this word—I’m looking at you, Martha Stewart—but here’s what I’m talking about: it’s a clothing store that sells staple items for the savvy and chic; it’s a stationery and stylish magazine stand; it’s a barber shop that cuts your hair in a swank vintage chair; it’s a bar (because not a single address here is without a bar); it’s a coffee shop-breakfast-and-lunch restaurant with communal tables and comfy, odd couches, that sometimes clears away the furniture to host pop-up dinners that only your connected friends get invited to; it’s a gallery that promotes global causes and goodwill; I’m sure in some hidden corner there’s a post office, haberdashery and ironic taxidermy outlet. They have a photo booth, too. It’s just one of those places. Officially, the brand is described as such: “Hutspot is a curator for an urbanized lifestyle. An initiative that brings all the good stuff.”
What this place gets right is giving all these sub-brands the room to breathe and stand on their own two feet. You could never step foot into the adjacent bar, only buy a sweater and paper planner next door, and still be a Hutspot consumer. How they grabbed a piece of real estate here this big, I have no idea, but it’s sprawling and spacious and still holds a lot of goods to buy, use and Instagram. Admittedly, it suffers from the most cloying aspects of well-executed lifestyle brands—I’m looking at you, Kinfolk—in which everyone is twee and everything is perfectly “authentic.” Still, you can’t go wrong with beautiful things. Even the cynic in me is happy to return here every few days, take a seat next to a Danish runway model (probably), order a freshly pressed apple-pineapple-mint juice, croissant with jam and a true cappuccino, and get to work. I can get a lot done in a place like this.
These omnibrands exist to offer many things to different customers, but through it all, they offer convenience. When you break it down, Hutspot is a retail store that sells a diverse menu of products, and also happens to offer an affordable place to sit and converse—congregating is the flagship of a Dutch brand. It’s not so far off from the department stores of the mid-20th century that served sandwiches and milkshakes at the basement lunch counter, some with salons. In the fashionable land of the Dutch, everything old really is new again.