When lifestyle concept Metsä/Skogen was looking for premises for its flagship store, the space had to meet strict criteria. Metsä/Skogen wanted a location that would attract a large number of visitors and a space that would offer a unique customer experience, supporting the company’s target of international growth.
Walking along Mannerheimintie, one suddenly hears the whistling of a black-headed diver, accompanied by the chatter of a fieldfare. The birdsong emanates from the direction of a fascinating display window with gnarled tree branches and moss hummocks.
The lush and green display window and enticing nature sounds attract passers-by to open the door and enter.
Inside, the store offers even more sensory experiences. The smell of a forest and nature sounds create a sense of tranquility. A setting sun gives the space a reddish glow.
‘If you don’t need it, don’t buy it" is our message.
“This is a slow living concept that was inspired by forests. Metsä/Skogen combines a store, restaurant and wellness services,” says Carita Peltonen, Founder of Metsä/Skogen, who is standing behind the service desk.
Forest – an untapped resource
The story behind the business idea starts with Peltonen’s burnout, from which she recovered with the help of forests.
“Forests gave me a sense of empowerment, and I wanted to offer the same experience to others. Our concept helps people find strength in nature and shop responsibly.”
"We wanted a location that is welcoming to all kinds of people."
The store features carefully selected clothes, cosmetics and interior design items. The small cafeteria serves lunch, and the store offers a range of wellness services, including guided forest walks (available soon). All the products and services provided by Metsä/Skogen are centred around nature and responsibility.
“In addition to the ecological aspect, our products have a strong design point of view. However, we want everyone to be able to shop responsibly, which is why our products are affordable. You can also come here simply to relax and be inspired. We don’t want to encourage unnecessary shopping,” Peltonen says.
The concept provides a separate area that is reserved for relaxation: the altar. Also known as the soul of Metsä/Skogen, the altar offers basket chairs in which visitors can sit back and watch slowly changing views of nature and enjoy forest sounds and smells.
Visible location and adaptable space
As the company has such a specific concept and high expectations for international growth, its criteria concerning the space were numerous. The space had to be versatile and located in a visible spot with high tourist and customer flows. The company also needed sufficient storage space.
“Shopping centres with their own brands or high-end galleries are not for us. Forests are all about diversity, and we wanted a location that is welcoming to all kinds of people,” says Peltonen, explaining the decision.
Furthermore, the space had to be adaptable to different uses.
“We hold private events, workshops and mindfulness sessions in the evenings, so adaptability was an essential requirement. We also update the concept and design of the store continuously, which is why the space has to be flexible”, Peltonen says.
Perfect premises in Erottaja
The company finally found suitable premises at Bulevardi 1, a property owned by Sponda. The Erottaja area close to Esplanade Park is popular among tourists, which makes it ideal for attracting both international and Finnish visitors.
Moreover, the space had just the right atmosphere for the brand. It took a couple of months to customise and renovate the space to meet the company’s demands.
According to Peltonen, the choice of a property partner was also affected by values. Ranked as the most responsible property sector company in Europe in its peer group, Sponda had convinced Peltonen also in her earlier career.
“I was impressed with Sponda’s systematic responsibility during my career in B2B. Co-operation with Sponda has been smooth, and the company has taken our unique brand and goals into account well,” Peltonen says.
Bringing life to bricks and mortar
According to Peltonen, brick and mortar stores can succeed under the pressure posed by e-commerce if they find ways to offer new experiences and a sense of community to customers.
She challenges independent stores to more active co-operation in the manner of shopping centres, pointing out that networking and joint marketing would benefit store owners and customers alike.
Details that impressed at Sponda’s retail space were the large, tree-like columns and majestic height.
The flagship store has been received extremely well, and Metsä/Skogen intends to open more stores in Finland and abroad. The location of stores is paramount in the company’s growth strategy.
“A location that supports our concept is vital for our stores. Large cities, tourist attractions and airports are our playground. The rest of our stores will be smaller, but equally full of experiences. Internationally, we are aiming towards the Asian market,” says Peltonen, laying out her plans.
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