The idea sounds absurd. I would be more likely to demand payment to go there!
But my reaction ignores a trend called “experiential retail”. The trend exploits a basic interest that we all have — for high quality experiences. We do — and we always have — paid for such things. For example, we pay to be shaken, whizzed about, turned upside down and frightened to death at amusement parks. We pay to listen to music and watch movies in theaters. We pay to freeze our butts off on the sides of mountains for Christ’s sake! So the theory is that we will pay for just about anything, as long as it is a high quality experience.
So what about a high quality shopping experience? So, let’s say you were shopping for a new suit for work. Would you pay to meet with a men’s fashion consultant who would give you individual recommendations for cuts of suits that most flatter your … errrr … physique? And what if that included membership in an exclusive club of executive clients who get ongoing inside information? REgular fittings from visiting world famous tailors? Shoe makers?
You get the idea. And Gucci is experimenting with a similar idea in Florence. You get to explore the first floor of the Gucci store for free. But to access the upstairs, it will set you back €8. Well, ok. €4 of the 8 goes to a Florence historical renovation fund. But the other 4 goes directly into Gucci’s pocket.