Victor Churchill, a butcher’s shop in Melbourne, takes a mundane commodity and turns it into a real spectacle. John Ryan reports
The most boring retail interiors are frequently joined by equally dull product. It’s a sad fact that there are certain items that we all need, but which are, in truth, somewhat mundane.
Meat is an obvious example. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, it’s likely that a pork chop will remain a pork chop no matter which chiller unit contains it and how organically it was produced. And from a customer perspective, meat is an item that you buy pieces of in order to cook them and turn them into something rather more appealing.
There are, however, exceptions. In Melbourne, Australia, Victor Churchill is certainly a butcher, but not of the usual kind. In place of the smiling gents with blood-spattered aprons and ruddy faces, there are multimedia lightboxes, overhead conveyor belts and large numbers of copper-plated security cameras of the kind more usually reserved to monitor the goings on in our towns and cities on a Friday night.
The latter are actually reserved for one of the prime cuts of this small store in a shopping centre, with a bank of them focused on a glass bell-jar beneath which is, you guessed it, a pork chop. And they are linked up to monitors that relay pictures of the chunk of meat in much the same manner as you might mount a security operation if the Koh-i-noor diamond were to be loaned and put on public display.
And making much of the product is what this store is all about. Whether it’s the windows, filled with white boots of the kind worn by market porters and select pieces of meat ready for a feast, or the chopping blocks, fashioned from intricately joined pieces of wood, this is all about visual appeal. The chopping blocks are in fact part of one of the store’s more theatrical spaces with a dry stone back wall, a series of butcher’s hooks with attached joints and, of course, a man on hand to cut the meat to the required size and shape.
Victor Churchill called in local company Dreamtime Australia Design to work on the project and the result is a store that takes a thoroughly workaday category and makes you want to step in, take a look and possibly even make a purchase. The point about this kind of ultra-niche retailing is that it affords the retailer scope to try something completely different. In fairness, at this level, the expense involved means that this store is really the top end of the top end… or should that be best end?