Charity-Supporting Retail

Pascal Chevallier

Marie-France Cohen and her husband, Bernard, are no strangers to retail—they ran the luxe children’s brand Bonpoint for 30 years before selling it in 2007. But their work was hardly done. “We always dreamed of having a shop where we’d sell different kinds of things,” says Cohen of the couple’s second act, the lifestyle emporium Merci. The three-story space, which opened in the Marais in March, stocks everything a chic Parisian might ever want to fill a Bastille loft. As such, it’s the newest in a handful of so-called cult shops in Paris—the first was Colette, which arrived in 1997—that assemble an eclectic group of wares, brands, and genres. What really makes Merci unlike any other store in Europe, however, isn’t just its selection but its philosophical mission: All profits have been earmarked for a Madagascar-based women’s charity.

On the main floor there’s a flower stand and a 49-foot-high wall of secondhand books. Small café tables line the rear wall for reading and snacking on light fare. In a back corner big-ticket labels like Alexis Mabille hang beside casual separates from Isabel Marant. For men, it’s mostly Paul Smith shirts and trousers, with a few choice pieces of vintage, too (there are tales of a polka-dotted Yves Saint Laurent blazer for $400). Upstairs, among the selection of furniture and homewear, are caned Maison Drucker bistro chairs in surprising colors such as purple and pink ($390).

High-fashion names like Stella McCartney and Jérôme Dreyfuss have created pieces for Merci, which are marked by a gold medallion and sell for significantly less than they would in the designer’s own boutique. Finds include a gold hole-punched Noguchi bracelet ($1,250) and a wool Helmut Lang jacket ($270). At 111 Bd. Beaumarchais; 33-1/42-77-00-33;