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Branding – HP Village and Unconsumption

Branding – HP Village and Unconsumption

Highland Park Village is America’s first self-contained shopping center, and it won designation as a National Historic Landmark in 2000. Its 1930 architects used the town square concept and ideas from the 1929 World Fair in Barcelona, Spain, to create a cohesive group of buildings offering classy sales platforms. The Village sits within the Town of Highland Park, a wealthy island suburb three miles north of downtown Dallas. Its stores are mostly high-end, with expensive clothes and jewelry in tasteful window displays.

New owners bought the Village in 2009, and the lead owner, Ray Washburne, described his “branding” strategy recently. Ray and his team have worked to create a “Highland Park Village brand” of shopping experience equal to California’s Rodeo Drive and a few other high-end consumer meccas, all without losing the Village’s neighborhood character. Ray grew up in Highland Park, and says it’s good business to keep the old grocery store, even though a general food seller can’t pay the $165/square foot/year rent the Village now collects. It’s good business, because it helps preserve a family environment element in the Village brand, and some people who buy groceries do serious shopping in nearby speciality stores.

Ray plans to renovate an existing Village building into a 50-or-60 room hotel, which he says will have the highest room rents in Dallas. The concept is to publicize the Village’s concentrated high-end shopping opportunities, particularly to wealthy foreigners, and offer them an exceptional destination hotel experience, with the Village’s fine restaurants available as room service, and a world of exclusive shops within 200 meters.

A day later, I read an article by Rob Walker, who pushes a brand called “Unconsumption“. Walker is from the advertising world, and his summary of sales persuasion is one Ray Washburne might agree with:

“Whatever the effect of any given advertisement may be, the cumulative message of the branded marketplace-and frankly, this includes green products as much as it does others-boils down to celebrating the new and simultaneously making you feel just a little self-conscious about the old.”

The Unconsumption blog sports an upside-down shopping cart called “Mr. Cart” as its logo, which is stamped on used products to give new life to old clothes and other stuff. The blog defines “unconsumption“:

Unconsumption is a word used to describe everything that happens after an act of acquisition.
Unconsumption means the thrill of finding a new use for something that you were about to throw away.
Unconsumption means enjoying the things you own to the fullest ā€“ not just at the moment of acquisition.
Unconsumption means the pleasure of using a pair of sneakers until they are truly worn out ā€“ as opposed to the nagging feeling of defeat when they simply go out of style.
Unconsumption means feeling good about the simple act of turning off the lights when you leave the room.
Unconsumption is an idea, a set of behaviors, a way of thinking about consumption itself from a new perspective.
Unconsumption is free.

Both brands invite you to do something different, to celebrate the new. One brand asks you to come to an upgraded luxury shopping venue where a wealthy person’s wants can be satisfied in attractive stores within easy walking distance. The other brand invites us to take pride in the old, but new, style of continuing to wear the old, to use the used. This blog’s title makes clear which brand we prefer.


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