We recently visited Gullo Filati, a haberdashery store in Palermo. Gullo filati was born as a wholesale warehouse and retail store in the heart of Palermo, its windows overlooking Sant'Anna Square and through first floor balconies you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Palazzo Ganci terrace, the famous ball location in the movie "Il Gattopardo" (“The Leopard”) by Luchino Visconti. Piazza Sant'Anna was once the center of a district dedicated to the textile merchandise, with numerous wholesale grocery stores, those that sold the kapok produced in Palermo, fabrics shops, specialized drugstores in fabric colours, starch and potassium permanganate. For some years, the company suffered from the crisis in the sector, which began with the disappearance of retail stores scattered around the city, their main buyers. The crisis was then followed by the new city plan of pedestrianization of the city and the introduction of the ZTL, which confined the square in a too quiet island for the commerce.
However, the company owners did not get discouraged, and instead of closing down the business, they focused on two innovations:
- using e-commerce to sell goods in stock
- focusing on the clientele growth to encourage retail sales
This last wager was played with the Knit Café launch: free weekly days of knitting, crochet, weaving and embroidery in their shop, having expert tutors. The experience is completed by an annual event in the square: The world knitting day.
"People come here without paying," says Michele Gullo, "I also offer coffee and cookies so to create a nice atmosphere, I do not have a direct economic return, but in the end I gain because I increase my clientele, making them more conscious and interested in DIY."
Gullo filati is now a member of the TCBL network and it is preparing for the next call to become an associate. At the same time I see in this experience all the characteristics of a Pace Lab and soon with Luca Leonardi we will facilitate its insertion between TCBL Labs.