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To fight racial injustice, streetwear retailer KITH closed its four flagship stores this week and turned them into voter registration hubs. KITH employees will be on hand to help visitors complete the process. The move was prompted by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who is black, and KITH joins other streetwear brands (including Social Status and Bodega) in closing its US stores in protest. KITH aims to ensure more citizens will vote in the 2020 US presidential election (compared to the 2016 election), as the company considers voting “the most powerful act we can do collectively to implement change and overturn the injustices experienced too often in this country.”
The pandemic, in particular, reminded us all that our brands’ physical spaces – our stores, restaurants, offices – can be so much more than what we originally designated them to be. Hoteliers, striving to eke value from empty rooms, transformed them into private work lofts in Amsterdam and even pop-up restaurants in Sweden. Both Walmart and the Vilnius Airport in Lithuania saw that their parking lots could be more than parking lots – and reimagined them as drive-in theaters, an alternative to all the closed cinemas.
Yet brands like KITH show that a space can be altered to meet needs beyond entertainment or convenience. It can be repurposed for a meaningful purpose! KITH harnessed its stores and staff to not just speak out against injustice – unlike its competitors, which simply shut down shop – but provide a valuable service that actively combats it. Other examples of purposeful repurposing? See how this homeless housing program in Spain converted hostels into shelters and dairy producer Land O’Lakes invited locals in rural areas (who lacked internet access) to use its office wifi during the COVID shutdown.
Chances are, your brand has unused or underutilized real estate. So before you sell the space, or while you’re still stuck in your lease...use it, and use it for good! What new function might your property take on in order to fulfill your brand purpose, address consumers’ most vital concerns, potentially aid a social organization, or help those in need?
The TrendWatching content team
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