A symbiotic relationship

So there's this hip Thai restaurant in Lakeview called Pingpong. Tiny seating area, sterile white walls, one orange fish swimming in a bowl, superloud techno music, gorgeous Asian hostess that might be a man, you can't tell. It's usually booked, but sometimes you can sneak into a table in the outdoor seating area.

Pingpong, however, is BYOB. It gets mixed reactions. I think the concept is great for some people (I can bring whatever I want and it's gonna be cheaper), and not-so-great for others (do I have to go find a liquor store? I just want to order a nice bottle of wine).

This is why Pingpong has such a genius setup. Right across the street is a wine store called Valhalla. Equally posh, equally funky, Valhalla has bright graffiti art on the walls, a hipster staff and a great range of wine at decent prices. It's smart because it meets the needs of both customers: the "I love BYOB" and the "I hate BYOB" types. Cheap, good selection and it couldn't be more convenient.

Here's the secret: the two places have the same owners. If you BYO Valhalla wine, Pingpong will waive the corkage fee. In fact, they quickly take your bottle, bring it back chilled and pour your first glass. It's great.

I don't know how the dual storefronts evolved - perhaps Pingpong couldn't get a liquor license, or the owners wanted to sell wine outside of a restaurant setting. But somehow, it remains a sweet little neighborhood secret that the two are linked, and the setup works. Pingpong benefits from Valhalla, and vice versa.

How can this symbiotic model be replicated? What kinds of stores would benefit from "adjacencies," or complementary stores right next door? I've heard of a few pairings - the video store/tanning salon, the movie theater/restaurant, the Starbucks within a Barnes & Noble. Where else could this go?

I could see the candy store next to the bank. Didn't they used to give kids lollipops at the bank so they'd be quiet? This would create a whole new level of happy kids. They'd turn into lifelong customers of that bank.

I could see the bike shop next to the car dealer. Bringing in your car for service again? Perhaps you should think about getting a bike instead. Or, does your bike need new brakes? Maybe you want something that can move you a little faster.

I could see Victoria's Secret opening up shop next to The Sharper Image. Or, substitute any store targeted at women, next to any store targeted at men. Dang those couples, they always shop together.

What other adjacencies make sense to you?

No comments: