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Little Eataly

Located in the Flatiron District of New York City, the aptly named Eataly is an immense, 50,000 square foot Italian food hall that is part-grocery store, retail, and restaurant all at the same time.  Founded in 2007, Eataly is an international brand with food halls located in places as far away as Brazil, Turkey, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Monaco (among others).  With four current locations, and one coming soon, in the United States, Eataly is a fast-growing brand with a cult-like following.

Within Eataly can be found many different stations that include a butcher shop, a bakery, a pizzeria, a winery, and gelato counter… among others.  Everywhere can be found foreign-made products with billboards explaining their significance to Italian culture and life. Italian spellings are used for every word, with even common words like “café” being spelled as “caffe”.  All of the fonts are uniform in a serif font.

Each of these elements to Eataly, however, are significant.  For example, all of the various types of stores found within the store itself are there to represent all of the types of shops that you may find within a square in Italy.  The packaging of all of all of the products are essential as their international designs that are so un-American leave the consumer feeling as though they have left New York City and entered the Riviera.  The signs explaining how each of the jams, cheeses, wines, and oils are essential to an Italian lifestyle assist the shopper by making them a well-informed lover of all things Italian.  Even the Italian spellings of words and choice of font are important as they add to the idea that whilst the shopper is within their walls, they are no longer in New York City… they are in Italy.

What I think is striking about all of this is how much faith consumers can put into products helping them build their desired personas.  So many of the shoppers that I was seeing at this store looked like normal New Yorkers, yet as you listened to them as they walked through the aisles and sampled various dishes, they spoke of dreams of visiting Tuscany, of learning Italian, and cooking like Mario Batali.  These people came to Eataly, not just for the food, but to become more Italian.  That is why Eataly, with its blend of restaurants, shops, and products, is doing so well

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