The French equivalent of a hardware store, is a droguerie. Similarly, these stock all related to the home - from nails to sponges and parquet cleaner. And for shops that have everything, it’s almost impossible to find anything.
A la Droguerie set out to change the wheel. A droguerie concept-store, this family-run business combines the practical aspect of kitchenware and hardware with design-led products.
But to get to the soul of A la Droguerie, we need to go back 30-odd years.
Moving to Paris from India in the 1980s, the Mohsin family set up a droguerie in the 15th arrondissement which soon became a neighbourhood favourite, impressing clients with their plethora of stock and welcoming smiles. One shop became two but the Mohsin’s struggled (like others) with the arrival of huge home improvement stores like Leroy Merlin and Darty which started doing things bigger and cheaper. All of a sudden these smaller independent shops became overlooked for the shiner but less expensive version.
If drogueries are often a family business, then this follows suit. Although for a while it didn’t look like it. A finance student from a top Paris university, the Mohsin's oldest child, Marc, had already decided that taking on the droguerie wasn’t for him. A self-proclaimed advocate of the finer things in life (Apple, Maison Kitsuné and hipster beard) Marc had decided that this mass product business didn't suit the taste of his ambitions.
Heading to China after this degree ended, he was struck by the country's advancement in business and finance as well as their quality of living. Something France was lacking. Inspired by the beautiful presentation and merchandising of the stores, Marc decided to take on the company - in forming the first droguerie concept-store.
Goodbye to rows upon rows of products or 50 different types of joints (however the back of the shop does have the typical droguerie cleaning products). Instead, a carefully selected range of home care products, from the practical to the decorative. Beau et utile (beautiful and useful) is the catchphrase and that’s exactly what they specialise in.
A big light filled space accented by fresh green plants, entering A la Droguerie is a treasure trove of stainless steel, pale wood and multicolours. It’s a round-the-world trip in terms of brands, from Italy’s finest pans and coffee makers, colourful and practical kitchen equipment from the UK, handmade German horse and goat hair brushes cleaning everything from your suede shoes to mushrooms, to Danish bathroom accessories. Brands, products and colours all rotate, so it pays to go in regularly and evidently lots of people do - the shop was filled with locals just popping by to see what was in.
Aside for a eye of the beautiful, Marc and his wife Camille are a tour de force with customers. Informing rather than selling, advising rather than coercing. A strong knowledge of the industry and great personal taste, you’re be in good hands with any questions.
One of the shop’s best-selling products? Bizarrely, a little wire brush that cleans other brushes. Beautiful and useful.
A la Droguerie (41 Rue de Vaugirard, 6th) has other boutiques are in the 14th (109 rue Didot) and 15th (46 rue Des Morillons), and there’s a plush website arriving by the end of the year.