Groningen is a small university city in the north of the Netherlands. The city has all the urban core functions hugely concentrated in the city center. All the bars and clubs are located in a couple of connected streets in the urban core which makes it possible to visit multiple bars the same night, and that’s what people do. Traditionally they leave their coat at a seat or bar stool somewhere in a bar and then explore the rest of the bars and clubs. When going home late at night, people have to find their coat back, resulting in drunk students roaming various bars in desperate search for their stuff. There’s always a chance they won’t get their items back as others steal them.
The StadsGarderobe is a business idea started by a group of students who found out that 8,000 people lose their coats and jackets each year in Groningen’s nightlife. The new wardrobe shop has room for 1,500 items and will be opened till 7 AM in the morning from Tuesdays till Saturdays. On Sundays and Mondays the City Wardrobe only opens during the day. Storing a jacket will cost you €1.50. In addition, the City Wardrobe reports lost and found items on Twitter and Facebook, and aims to stimulate people to visit the store by organizing a lottery using the tickets that people already have for their jacket. For other local businesses the place is often used to launch small give-away or promotion campaigns.
To centralize the wardrobe function is an interesting concept that fits perfectly to the city’s spatial and functional set-up. It solves a problem and facilitates a need. As a concept to fill empty shopping space its very interesting too. And I’m pretty sure that also the local fire department is very happy with this initiative, as all these jackets and bags in bars don’t block the stairs and emergency doors any more.