The Disney merchandising team has made some very sad changes to an iconic Main Street U.S.A. shop – this time in Disneyland Paris. Alain Littaye has the heartbreaking story of the transformation of legendary Disney Imagineer Eddie Sotto’s photo shop into “Flora’s Unique Boutique”. Perhaps her name was Flora Walton? ~~Rick

New Century Notions – Flora’s Unique Boutique Opens at
Disneyland Paris’ Main Street U.S.A.

by Alain Littaye
Disney and more blog

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A new shop opened on Disneyland Paris’ Main Street U.S.A, and it’s called New Century Notions – Flora’s Unique Boutique. We have a full photo report about it for you today. As always, let’s thanks Max, D&M contributor and DLPWelcome webmaster for his great pictures.

The shop replaces the beloved and highly themed Main Street Photography shop. The new shop opened on August 1st after six months of construction. Above is the new “vintage style” poster created for the new shop.

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Facing the Emporium and next to Boardwalk Candy Palace, which now has its facade in refurbishment, New Century Notions – Flora’s Unique Boutique also has a new sign. The one you can see in the photos below is only temporary. The final one will be put into place soon.

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Let’s go inside!

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The first thing you’ll notice at the entrance is the new design of the mosaic floor with a big “F” for “Flora”…

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The length of the main counter has been significantly reduced…

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The new shop has reopened in a style quite different from the previous shop. The space has been completely redesigned with large shelves and good visibility for the merchandise. Unfortunately, in the end, the atmosphere is less warm than before.

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Shelves everywhere, quite well done, but with no special theming. The goods for sale are mainly attractive to non-French tourists,. According to Max, for the most part the shop sells a range of products about Paris – thus explaining the quote “We carry the latest styles from Paris so you don’t have to” that can be seen on the bottom of the shop poster.

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The only remnant of the old shop is the famous vintage phone on which you can still listen in on a phone conversation between two Main Street citizens.

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A closer look at the lighting and stained glass windows…

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Let’s have a look at the exterior now…

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The excitement of having a new shop arriving on Main Street unfortunately doesn’t last. Even if the new shop has been enhanced by a new layout and a new interior color palette, the considerable loss of theming in regards to the previous shop makes this an establishment without a soul – particularly startling since this is in sharp contrast to the other stores on Main Street. And now all the shop windows on Town Square displaying merchandise, there is no more storytelling as was the case with Main Street Photography as seen in the pictures below.

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The highly themed photographer’s office of the previous shop was designed and supervised by legendary Imagineer Eddie Sotto, who spent long hours to create the feeling of a real office.

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Below, here is Eddie Sotto’s rendering for the above Main Street Photography photographer office.

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A lot of DLP fans are furious about the new shop and it’s pretty understandable. It sure is a pity that the old camera shop is gone. Times change, guests were not buying photographic film and I can understand that the space is valuable. However, despite all of that logic, the irony remains that Main Street exists to celebrate things as they once were. Main Street U.S.A. is supposed to tell the story of a small town at the crossroads of technological transition. A street of businesses portrayed as “mom and pop” boutiques with the personality of their owners resisting the corporate “chain” retailers of today. In a sense, Disney has become the “Big Box” retailer of Main Street, driving out it’s own “mom and pop” boutiques and expanding over entire blocks. Things have indeed disappeared from culture and been victims of change, such as horse-drawn streetcars and gas lighting, but are they not the charm that we love about Main Street? In all Magic Kingdoms, we clap along and enjoy barbershop quartets and ragtime piano with strangers and without devices or headphones. Things on Main Street (like candy, glass poodles and hat decor) are hand made on Main Street, as opposed to China. Main Street uses the obsolescence of the past to entertain us through contrast.

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Main Street Photography – concept art above – was all about photography which was invented in France. Thanks to technology, more pictures are now shot digitally in a day than in an entire decade prior to camera phones. Early photography before digital retouching was closer to truth, to life and a window into the past. I for one, would have loved to see a credible photo gallery of vintage images (or new images taken the old way with silver background ) somewhere on Main Street to help this “selfie” obsessed generation appreciate where it all began. But instead we have one more merchandise shop without any special soul.

The main reason it happened is because Disney has come up with a template or pattern for how to design stores and certain requirements for how retail must be done. This new store seems to conform to all the other recent stores and the required template for how you must display merchandise. It’s no longer a movie set. These new rules are a reaction to that. They don’t see that anymore as a successful way to sell. So time marches on and we have to face – and eventually accept – the fact the Disney stores will never be the same.

Pictures: copyright Max Fan – DLPWelcome

Alain is the editor of one of the most amazing Disney books ever published. This book is a must for every serious Disney book collector.

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