From Online to Onsite: A Month in the Life of a Map-Maker's Shop

Posted by Mike Bell on

After two years of navigating the digital world with my unique maps, I recently embarked on a new journey by opening a physical shop/gallery in Lewes, East Sussex.

My designs, which intertwine the intricate paths of band recording histories, film plots, and more into tube/underground map formats, have taken a new turn in this real-world setting. Here are some fascinating insights from my first four weeks of running the shop.

The Charm of Tangibility: Small Prints in High Demand

One of the first things I noticed was a distinct preference for smaller prints among walk-in buyers. While my online store, mikebellmaps.com, sees a diverse range of orders, the physical shop has revealed a clear trend towards compact sizes. This could be attributed to the immediate visual appeal and the ease of imagining these smaller prints adorning a wall at home or in an office.

“If It’s There, They’ll Buy It” - The Impulse Purchase Phenomenon

Unlike online shopping, where decisions are often ponderous and compared, the physical presence of the maps seems to trigger an impulse purchase behaviour. Customers are more inclined to buy something they can see and touch, leading to spontaneous purchases that might not occur online. This immediacy has been a delightful surprise and a valuable lesson in consumer behaviour.

Conversations and Connections: Bands, Films, and Beyond

One of the most rewarding aspects of running the shop is the conversations it sparks. Customers, ranging from avid music enthusiasts to film buffs, engage in discussions about their favourite bands and movies. It's fascinating to see their reactions when they trace the interconnected journeys of artists in bands like The Beatles. These maps are not just artworks but conversation starters, unfolding stories and histories in a visually engaging way.

Educational Fun with Kids: Discovering the Beatles and More

Children, in particular, are captivated by the maps. It's a joy to watch their curiosity bloom as they discover the multitude of people involved in creating iconic sounds like those of The Beatles. These maps serve as a unique educational tool, revealing the complexity behind beloved music and films in an accessible and fun way.

The Unpredictable Nature of In-Store Sales

Running a physical shop has its unpredictability. Unlike the steady traffic of an online store, in-person visits can ebb and flow. This variability adds an exciting, albeit challenging, dimension to the business. It's a constant learning process of understanding and adapting to customer preferences and patterns.

Final Thoughts

Transitioning from an exclusively online presence to a physical shop has been an eye-opening experience. It's shown me different facets of consumer behaviour and provided a platform for engaging, real-life interactions. This journey has not only been a business evolution but a personal one, deepening my connection with the art I create and the people who appreciate it.

As I continue this adventure, I invite you to visit my shop in Lewes, East Sussex, and experience the world of maps in a way that's both familiar and refreshingly new. Let's unravel the stories together.

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