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John Ryan

Miniso in London Shows How Small(er) Can be Beautiful

Set at 400-square-feet, a “Mini-Miniso” debuts




Miniso in London Shows How Small(er) Can be Beautiful

Miniso’s blind box store on central London’s Shaftesbury Avenue. Photography: Courtesy of Miniso


For those who don’t know it, Miniso is a “global lifestyle brand” from China with stores in more than 80 countries (including the U.S., where it has a flagship in New York’s Times Square). This may leave the reader none the wiser, but Miniso is, in fact, a mix of plush toys, lipsticks, electronic gadgets and snacks, among other things, and all within very shiny and densely merchandise environments.

It also offers blind boxes. These will be familiar to Chinese consumers and contain 3-D cartoon characters from a range printed on the side. When purchasing, the shopper doesn’t know what’s in the box, acting, supposedly, to keep fans buyinguntil they have a complete set.

All of this means that a massive store is not necessarily required, and the opening of a “Mini Miniso” on central London’s Shaftesbury Avenue is a case in point. The walls are indeed awash with boxes, blind or otherwise, and a single mid-shop unit houses more of the same. It is also very pink, internally and externally, shifting from the normal red logo set against the bright white that characterizes other outposts.

Miniso in London Shows How Small(er) Can be Beautiful

Miniso flagship in New York’s Times Square. Photography: Courtesy of Miniso.


The pink color indicates that this is something small and “cute,” a baby version of the usual format. It is also located on a bustling road filled with theaters (this is London’s Broadway), restaurants and not many shops. Rather, more to the point is that it is one street away from the U.K. capital’s Chinatown, meaning a willing and Miniso-knowledgeable crowd is close at hand.

At a little over 400 square feet, this is a tiny but highly polished and heavily curated version of what shoppers will think of when considering a standard Miniso. It’s an object lesson in how to take something big and make it smaller, which is a bit more than squeezing a range until it fits – still the modus operandi of many retailers when faced with a mini space. Think carefully about how you approach the miniature – it is different.

John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.



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