Dan from At Disney Again and I just happened to be arriving in Orlando for dinner with friends the day the Co-Op opened, so we stopped by on our way to Trail’s End. And then we proceeded to spend more money than either of us had to spare. Of course.
What’s interesting about this space, right off, is that it’s set up as six stalls with a large, open center floor. I was fortunate to speak with Mike Myers, Manager of Merchandise Operations for Downtown Disney, as Dan and I were exiting the store, and he told us some very interesting facts about these very interesting spaces.
For starters, everything in the store is modular. Everything. Even the cash registers! This will allow the Merchandising Team to add new stores or try new things. In fact, Myers told us that there’s money in their budget that will allow them to switch up to two of the stores each year!
Why would they want a fast-changing space?
His reasoning was two-fold: First, the variable spaces give the retail outlet broad appeal. You may not have liked sports, so you never would have ventured into Team Mickey. But chances are, there’s something in Marketplace Co-Op that appeals to everyone. And once you’re in, you’re in! This, to me, is brilliant and so true: I almost dropped $50 in the Trophy Room on a vintage METS shirt that I never would have even seen if it hadn’t been surrounded by amazing, retro Disney housewares.
The second reason is possibly even more brilliant: These retail spaces are being seen as brand incubators, a low cost way for Disney Merchandising to try out new ideas. If someone has an interesting store concept or merchandise line, it won’t take much capital investment to try it out and see what sticks.
As far as I can tell, everything is sticking right now! Let’s take a quick tour …
At the center of the building, there’s an impressive, one-of-a-kind chandelier. Exactly the kind of thing I’d expect in a real downtown co-op … except way better.
But we’re here to shop and oogle. First stop: D-Tech On Demand. Which is sort of the most brilliant idea ever ever. You pretty much walk in and, using a computer program, order your one-of-a-kind electronics accessories. So that Tiana case you’ve been looking for to protect your Droid RAZR? Well, you might never find it at MouseGear, but that’s cool. You can special order it right here. According to one Cast Member we spoke to, there are currently 120 different phone designs with literally thousands of permutations! And the Tiana case in your imagination? They can print it while you shop!
On the other side of D-Tech is another familiar face: Beautifully Disney. This tiny shop front carries all of the products you’d expect and hosts a bevvy of makeup artists ready to help you decide which products are right for you. Makeup. Perfume. And free makeovers?! Paging Sparkly Nicole! I think I may have found your Happy Place.
Let’s head across the way to the Trophy Room, where you can find all of the products that made Team Mickey a success. Like I said before, I’d never ordinarily step foot in a sports-themed shop. But I liked this one! It’s all rich wood and battered old trophies. And the retro team shirts made me so happy.
The real gem in the crown of the Marketplace Co-Op is Centerpiece. This is where you’ll find the biggest crowds. And where you’ll drop the most cash, if you’re anything like me. Expect housewares, like plates, bowls, coasters, throw pillows and decorative ephemera.
Yea. That doesn’t sound super exciting. But it is. Half of the space contains retro-fabulous and super colorful items, featuring classic attraction illustrations. Which means tiki gods, flying elephants and little orange birds. And hitchhiking ghosts. And just about everything else you want in your living room.
The other half of the space is devoted to more upscale, mostly black-and-white items featuring classic Mickey and Minnie and Fab Five prints as well as Beauty and the Beast-inspired items. Super fun and still classy.
I easily spent the most here. And Dan and I are already plotting how we’re going to spend more. I mean, we already have a Polynesian bedroom set … we need some awesome Tikiness to go along with it. Right? Right.
What I especially love about this area of the store is the little details and displays. I’ll share one in particular tomorrow, but I also loved the spigot details.
Moving on … across from Centerpiece is an adorable little shop called Zoey and Pickles. It’s aimed at mini-Mouseketeers, but I found several cute items here. In fact, I spent more money here than I did at any store other than Centerpiece. But it’s not for everyone: Mostly you’ll find small, cheap jewelry, clothes and shoes for teens and similar items.
What I loved more than the merch in this space was the decor. It’s bright, colorful and young with a good amount of kinetic energy and a kick of literary mindedness, a sensibility that meshes seamlessly with a fun, funky series of 70s-style latching hardside suitcases located throught out the space. Of course, the little ones the shop is intended for may not get the cultural referents, but I sure do. And I love them.
Last stop: In the very back of the store (or the very front, if you approach from the parking lot) is Cherry Tree Lane, the perfect shop for adult women who probably spend too much on stuff they don’t need. But, damn: It’s pretty stuff! Here, you’ll find Dooney bags, shoes, jewelry of all kinds, everything Vera Bradley … and lots of other girlie things that I pretend to eschew but really secretly enjoy … like HATS!!
One cool thing to note: The mini-shop is named after the street where the Banks family makes their home in the film Mary Poppins. So, of course, there are little nods to the film all over the store. Not the least of which are a series of cuuuuute penguins and a specially-designed Cherry Tree Lane print on bags other travel items. LOVE!
This is where my tour of shops ends, but it doesn’t have to be you final stop! At Disney Again has a whole assortment of additional photos so you can take a closer look at the store and it’s amazing merchandise at your leisure.
Also, some details you may want to have in your back pocket: Marketplace Co-Op is open from 10 a.m. until at least 11 p.m. Hours are subject to change, of course, but you can always shop online. (Yea. It’s online, too.)
Pro-Tip: While the shops are treated as separate entities, you can check out at any of the registers in the space. That means a savvy shopper is going to take all of her merchandise from Centerpiece and head on over to the Trophy Room or Zoey and Pickles (where the lines are much shorter) to pay.
Another Pro-Tip: Many of the more unique items can only be bought in quantities of six in the store (to prevent the dreaded Disney eBay-ers), but if you’re looking to buy in quantity, check the website.
What do you think of this amazing new retail spot? I, for one, can’t wait to head back there at the earliest opportunity! What are you hoping to buy?? Let us know in the comments!