By: Aaron Bergunder

Stocksy Currents: The Corner Mart aesthetic

There’s a new trend in town that’s infiltrating businesses big and small. A visual representation of a shared experience. We see them every day, yet rarely take notice of their weight in our collective consciousness. They provide an array of everyday needs ranging from lighters, to trashy magazines, to late-night twinkie runs and have been the grounds for communion over many a curbside snack. Convenience stores — the unsung nostaligic throwback of our modern lives.

The corner mart aesthetic draws on nostalgia and the power of familiarity that makes for the most successful emotion-based trends. No matter where you’re from in the world, you’ve probably grown up with a convenience store, corner shop, bodega, or depanneur nearby. With a few simple design cues, you can hit a goldmine of nostalgia and play into this trend.

Why is corner mart visual media trending now?

At the beginning of the 2020s, online shopping was becoming more commonplace. D2C brands we’re cropping up more, disrupting department stores, big box brands, and industry monopolies. The ensuing global pandemic accelerated the hell out of those movements, seeing consumers transfer almost exclusively to online shopping (and doing a LOT of it). Now, as the world takes its new shape, brick-and-mortar shops hold nostalgia for the before times, still having a strong cachet and consumer appeal that D2C brands struggle to capture.

Does anybody even go there?

Corner mart dedication is not just a sentiment. Thankfully, kids still think loitering is cool. While we wait on the big bets for the metaverse to take off, GenZ and Alphas are still gathering at the 7-11, away from watchful parents or tracking tokens. They also love emulating the generations before them, and the 90s loved slacking around a strip mall.

Didn’t we just see this?

While still nostalgic, the corner mart aesthetic is distinctly more modern, multicultural, and multigenerational (not “greatest generation”) than the big heavy Americana, masculine, wartime design trend we just saw. Similar elements appear here, but they aren’t driving it. They should feel left over. It’s the dusty canned spaghetti and the painted brick wall peering out from behind a coroplast sign. Hello.

How to get to the store

Imperfection counts. Some of the charm of a local shop is in its DIY making-the-best-of-what-you’ve-got attitude. Creating designs, campaigns, and projects with this aesthetic can accidentally get too good. Dial it back. The fallibility from just trying your first idea is totally acceptable.

Timelessness comes in many forms. Don’t commit too closely to a single era. That can get gimmicky and over-branded. Your corner shop will have aesthetics from all over. Embrace the chaos!

Be neighborly. Think of your community – what’s going to give your customers that same feel-good moment they’d have when they pop down to the shop for a chocolate fix.

Put your own spin on it. The hard work of each convenience store employee is visible in the shops’ unique fingerprints. Relying too heavily on a system, rules, fonts, and consistency will hold you back.

Less might be more, but don’t be minimal. We’re not talking about the new wave general store that sells 5 things. Try dressing it up in maximalism, like an overstocked candybar shelf, and then take away a couple pieces.

Feel confident in being blunt. There’s no subtly needed here. Everything is big and loud because it’s the most important thing you’re doing, and then the next thing you do is even more important so it’s bigger and louder. Shout over yourself. Caps lock is on. It’s a SALE not a Special Offer.

Where we’re seeing it

Need a visual reference? Here are a few places we’re seeing this trend:

Shop our corner mart curated collection