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Shops and cafe’s galore. We all know that. Too much stuff to choose from for us consumers and too many competitors to compete as shop owner.

That’s why my heart skips a beat when I walk into another “concept”. Which isn’t the right word, but it makes it a good start explaining what I actually mean. Concept = a shop that’s not really a shop, a restaurant that’s not really a restaurant. Or a museum that’s not really a museum. Or even better, let’s replace “not really” for “more than”. A tearoom in which even the chairs you sit on are for sale. A restaurant that is an exhibition space for young unknown artists at the same time. It’s not the general stuff, not what you expect when you step inside. It’s more and that’s what makes it unique. Inventive combined with practical mixed with creativity times courage. That’s how you can recognize a “concept”. But let’s stop call it “concept”, because that’s how you can recognize people who think themselves ingenious but have gone too far: they will call their actual conceptual creation “Concept store” or “Conceptual Cafe”. That’s dull. Just give it a proper name and let everyone enjoy the fantastic mix of your passion for crocodiles, teaspoons and second hand clothing in one shop. Crocodile feeding times in the shop window and go!

A succeeded mixture of shop-types-in-one that I can highly recommend to you all, is Brill Cafe. Once started as “just” a music shop it’s now a lovely little cafe with brilliant bagels, good coffee and some cd’s on the side (left hand side when you enter the cafe). It’s a tiny place but it all fits. It feels very spacious; you’ll never bump into people or have to wait for a seat. Maybe that’s not the reality but what my mind made of all my memories… anyhow, Brill Cafe is always filled with customers – or maybe that again is my mind playing tricks…? Nooooo! – so it really must be the spacial design.

Brill CafeBrill Cafe shows that mixing one thing with another isn’t weird or illogical – it’s a success. While all big Music Chains seem to collapse around us, it looks like the tiny little local has found a way to stay put. And is far better than a chain. While eating your epic bagel you can contemplate on whether to buy that cd you spotted. Or not. But then you still had your bagel. So you see, having a coffee or a nice cup of tea and a bagel at Brill Cafe can work out in two ways: a) it stops you from an impulse purchase or b) you may just buy a cd! Remember? The cd?! That disc that makes music still sound like music instead of melody lines that have lost their base lines in the mp34567-process.

The selection of cd’s (new as well as used) may not be as big as the selection you’ll find online – but the positive side is, you don’t sit behind your computer. You’re out and about in the real world.

Wanna experience it yourself? Conquer a window seat, surround yourself with happy locals and relaxed background music. Watch the people outside passing by. Buy a cd. Now that’s life and welcome to it!

Conquer a window seat

Brill Café, 27 Exmouth Market , London EC1R 4QL
Monday to Friday 7:30am to 6pm , Saturday 9am to 6pm.

Find Brill Café on Twitter @brillcafe or Facebook

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