Coca-Cola Store Seeks to Cash In On Memories

THE nostalgia craze sweeping much of the United States has now come to Manhattan's fashionable Fifth Avenue, thanks to the folks who make Coca-Cola.The Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company recently opened "Coca-Cola Fifth Avenue," a 3,000 square foot retail store at 711 Fifth Avenue, one of the most visited - and expensive - retail blocks in the US. Talk about an upscale neighborhood: The Trump Tower is just up the street. Gucci's is down the block; Christian Dior is nearby. And so is Rockefeller Center, Tiffany's, Rolex, and Cartier. In fact, some of Coke's neighbors grouse that the store detracts from the affluence of the area. "We've been packed since we opened our doors" on Nov. 20, says a sales clerk. A family from Germany lines up alongside a wall, as a friend takes a quick photograph - posed in front of floor-to-ceiling displays of red and white Coke memorabilia. "This is not a retail store designed just to make money," says Peter Sealey, Coca-Cola's senior vice president and director of global marketing. "The average purchase is around $5 - hardly enough to pay the lease. But that's not our purpose. The whole store is a marketing and advertising experience. The minute you come in the door you are surrounded by Coca-Cola. It's an experience that can't be duplicated by any other type of marketing." Mr. Sealey says the store is also "a vote of confidence in New York City. New York is America's premier city; and Fifth Avenue is the epicenter of New York." Coke executives say they believe the store will be a success among tourists. According to their own market research, the two most recognized phrases in the world are, first, "OK", and second, "Coca-Cola." The store is a mini-museum; more than 500 different licensed Coca-Cola trademark products are on sale, including apparel, accessories, toys, collectibles, and speciality items. Coke radio and television jingles from the past waft throughout the store. In addition, there are exhibits of Coca-Cola memorabilia and early 20th century advertising. There is also a video screen located inside an eight-foot tall replica of a Coca-Cola can that shows historical flashbacks from the late 1800s - when Coca-Cola was introduced - to the present. The posters also remind one that a mere 5 cents used to buy a soft drink. "Americans love nostalgia and Coca-Cola is now right at the forefront of that trend," says one New York advertising executive. A number of prominent consumer companies now market replicas of past-products, or have established retail stores. The Walt Disney Company, for example, has a number of retail outlets in shopping malls selling Disney products. The Hershey Company markets replicas of many of its famous candy containers, and operates a museum/consumer store at its Hershey, Pa., headquarters. The Coca-Cola store differs in being located on one of the best-known avenues in the world. "We have a good landlord," Sealey laughs. The store is located in the "Coca-Cola Building," the company's New York offices between 55th and 56th Streets. Coca-Cola also operates the Trademart at "The World of Coca-Cola," a tourist site in Atlanta that attracted close to 900,000 visitors in its just-completed first year. Are other retail stores contemplated by Coca-Cola? Sealey insists not. "There are lots of other fine cities.... But this is it for us."

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