Shopping with a clear conscience: This was the core concept of the new store for Weißer Rabe (English: white-necked crow, a nonprofit organization in Munich). When an additional 200 square meters of retail space freed up, the company was able to launch a large-scale expansion and redesign its GebrauchtWarenHaus (English: second-hand store). The idea behind the project: to attract more attention to the company thanks to the clearly visible space in the front part of the building.
Sustainability, human kindness and integration
The Weißer Rabe is a nonprofit organization that consists of various employment sites and opportunities for people with disabilities (sheltered workshops), including a textile manufacturing factory, a carpenter’s workshop, staff cafeterias, a forest preserve project, a café and many more. Its goal is to enable people with mental or physical impairments or those suffering from difficult life situations to reenter the workforce.
Sabine Rohs, an expert in store construction and design, her team and collaborative partners took just eight weeks to completely redesign the retail spaces in Landsbergerstraße. Their challenge was to create a contemporary ambience, while emphasizing ecological and sustainable aspects.
"It was important to me for the store design to appeal to a new target audience, namely conscious and socially-responsible buyers, who focus on sustainability and prefer to purchase secondhand goods rather than buying new products all the time,” Rohs explains her mission. In doing so, Weißer Rabe is in tune with the Zeitgeist and social conscience of today where everyone is talking about limited resources and plastic pollution in oceans.
Unique concept to promote a special message: shop and do something good
Sabine Rohs favored natural and simple materials such as spruce wood and steel for this project. In the center of the room, massive wooden beam structures bound together by steel straps do double-duty as retail display tables. "Despite their size, the wooden beam structures don’t feel overpowering in the long, narrow space,” she asserts.
The décor is minimalist and functional because the designer was limited by the budget. "Yet the elements still create a top quality effect, giving the overall design a classy touch," says Rohs. "The result exudes a simple elegance that invites customer to stay longer. Guests are meant to feel happy and at home in the store.“
"At the same time, customers should also be made aware of the fact that they are supporting a worthy cause when they shop here," the designer emphasizes. A floor-to-ceiling photo collage featuring all target groups right behind the checkout area echoes the diversity of the Weißer Rabe community – and reflects its "shop and do something good” motto.
Additional images on the walls depict the organization’s history. Guests can read up on projects of Weißer Rabe thanks to a striking format. The charitable intent is omnipresent throughout the store.
Commitment of everyone involved
Yet it’s not just the customers who do something good. The entire Weisser Rabe team was fully committed to the cause. Sabine Rohs persuaded the employees of the textile manufacturing factory to sew curtains and covers for the interior. She was also able to get the "Werkstatt am Westpark" carpenter’s workshop, which is part of the organization to collaborate on the project. The result is a store that has thrilled everyone ever since its completion. "Everyone had great fun working for their own company and immortalizing their work in this setting,” says Sabine Rohs.
The project manager was also able to attract several sponsors for her concept. The LTS Licht & Leuchten GmbH Company from Tettnang in the Lake Constance region has generously supported the project for example. The lighting manufacturer has taken on the lighting planning and layout at no charge and provided all lighting fixtures and solutions. The paint company einzA Farben GmbH & Co. KG supplied the material for the store’s epoxy floors and the Bachmayer GmbH store construction company from Vilsbiburg donated the metal logo sign.
Thanks to the dynamic and generous support of the employees of the Weißer Rabe Group and its cooperative partners, the project has been successfully implemented.
Commitment, dedication, and human kindness were the key components of the project in Munich. Experiencing solidarity and doing good deeds together is not just the unequivocal goal of Weißer Rabe. It was also reflected throughout the many work processes during the creation of the new store and made tangible through every detail.