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Creating niche market in hipster paradise (photos)

MADRID -- Like its barrio Malasaña, the shopping center of Mercado de Fuencarral fights to maintain its title as mecca for the avant-garde.
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Topic: Innovation
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1 of 9 Jennifer Riggins/ZDNet

Mercado Fuencarral is known for its alternative, vanguard small shops. This small mall says it features 26 clothing stores and 11 for accessories and jewelry, along with a hair salon, an gallery and a cafe-bar. 

"We are brandemocracy," reads their current ad campaign. "A Big Idea, created by thousands of simple ideas. What yours?"

With independent designers and one-of-a-kind merchandise, it was once the center of fashion for the Spanish rock-and-roll and alternative world.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
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Op/Zon is one of a two-store hairdressing chain specializing in deep and often obscure or intense hair colors and styles. They chose their spot in the basement of Mercado Fuencarral as "a different and new location for alternative clients--not just to cut and dry," said employee Noelia.

 

Loyal Op/Zon customer Victoria says, "It is the only place I can find the colors I like," including the new pink hues she features here. (Photo by Eva San Juan)

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When Miguel first opened his store Shackleton in the Mercado around 15 years ago, the building was one of the lonely store locations. In 2000, Calle Fuencarral featured more traditional, family-owned specializing businesses.  Now, the street is filled with chain stores, apart of large corporations. He described the street as "like a commercial center, with many more personalities and people."  (Photo by Eva San Juan)

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Miguel describes his store, the market and its barrio as "totally hipster." He says that the stores of Mercado Fuencarral are different because they sell items that cannot be easily found and are more one-of-a-kind. Half of his customers are expats and tourists, just popping in, while the other half have been shopping there for years. Miguel believes both the market and his store have survived so long because of their individuality. (Photo by Eva San Juan)

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The clerk of alterna-skate and watch store Extasis, seated at the entrance of the market, has been working at the store for about eight years. In that time, he has witness the market demand change from street art and unique clothing to watches and accessories. He is watching as he mall that used to be more alternative clothing turns into a dealer of higher-end accessories. (Photo by Eva San Juan)

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The basement of the market features the Beefeaters Sofa Club with Spain's ubiquitous coffee, free WiFi and an art gallery. (Photo by Eva San Juan)

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Mario and his wife co-own the G.I. Joe Surplus military clothing and gear store, which caters to its regular clients searching for the accurate wardrobe to strip, model and act in. And, of course, Madrileños who want to look military-chic. Like many of the stores in Mercado Fuencarral, what you see is what you get, with original and limited sizes and merchandise. (Photo by Eva San Juan)

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The owners of the market are advertising its "Brand-Democracy," which is tweet-defined as "A brand created by the ego-brands that share our space, our meetings and our creativity!" Instead of being a series of chain stores of singular brands, like most of Calle Fuencarral, the mall's management is creating their own (hipster) branding, interestingly in English. (Photo screenshot from Mercado de Fuencarral's Web site.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com
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Mercado Fuencarral's Brand-Democracy is also based on Quick-Response codes, however, not a single store SmartPlanet visited looked to implement this system soon. Angela of Pepaloves women's clothing store thinks the Q-R codes would be much easier to scan than their current barcodes, but that it seems to expensive for a small store to enact, leaving the technology for Spanish superstores like FNAC and El Corte Ingles. (Photo by Eva San Juan)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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