If you look for ‘Merci’, it is likely you will miss it. All one can see is a flowershop and a seemingly unrelated bookstore. But if you take time to push the door, you’re in for a surprise. At the back lays an enormous, luminous loft – reminiscent of Berlin, which petite Parisian architecture usually doesn’t allow.
Merci is Paris’ least well kept secret. Opened in March, it is a charity shop à la Française, or rather, a charity concept store. It is the result of several years of hard work by Marie France and Bernard Cohen, the creators of French luxury childrenwear Bonpoint. The 1500 square meter (16,000 square feet) space was previously a fabric factory; today, it is like a contemporary cavern of Ali Baba: split up into three stories, it offers a multitude of books, clothes, flowers, furniture, but also a café and an elegant canteen.
And this is a joint effort: Merci offers specially designed pieces by Stella Mc Cartney, Yves Saint Laurent, Paul Smith. These are 30 or 40 percent cheaper because the designers gave up their profit margin. The collection includes YSL’s famous Safari Jacket, specially re-edited for Merci in white and Khaki.
Situated in between the Marais and République, Merci has rapidly become a nest for Paris’ Bobo(= Bourgeois Bohemian)population, who stroll in on lazy afternoons, or chose to spend the day – what better way to spend the weekend than bumping into Charlotte Gainsbourg and doing a good deed? Amen.