“Broccoli,” “032c” and “Mincho” are just three of over 200 titles waiting to be discovered on the homemade shelves at Maurice Müller’s shop Print Matters! at Zurich’s Hohlstrasse 9. Fresh from university, the young entrepreneur uses selected print magazines to demonstrate the potential of printed matter that is informative, entertaining and beautiful to look at.
BY ANDREA ZELLER
Opening your own shop right after graduating is a courageous move. Deciding to sell only print magazines in the age of digitisation seems even bolder. Maurice Müller, the fledgling owner of Print Matters!, waves away any scepticism. He agrees with the “Tages-Anzeiger,” which recently ran a feature titled “Papier hat Potenzial” (“Paper has potential”). “The market for high-quality, independent magazines is diverse and there is a demand,” Maurice says self-assuredly. Print Matters! is not an unknown quantity: “It has existed since 2015 — as a pop-up store in Zurich and as an online shop.” When Maurice heard that the founders wanted to quit at the end of 2018, due to a lack of time, he contacted them. They quickly reached a deal and Maurice took over the brand, logo and website at a special price. His next step proved how strong his belief in print is: An online presence is not enough, there also needs to be a shop!
Hohlstrasse, thanks to 350 people
Maurice’s career reflects his passion for the written word and his high affinity for design. He interrupted his Trends & Identity studies at ZHdK several times to do placements at “NZZ Bellevue,” “NZZ Stil,” “Z-Magazin” and with fashion designer Julian Zigerli. The versatile journalist, stylist, assistant and photographer got to know many people, among others, fashion blogger and Zurich expert Jeroen van Rooijen. Thanks to a tip from Jeroen, Maurice eventually found premises between Langstrasse and Kaserne, at Hohlstrasse 9. But how does a 25-year-old get the necessary small change to start his own shop? Well, he launches a crowdfunding campaign among fellow students, café owners, bookworms and philanthropists. The plan worked out: 350 people donated a total of 49,000 francs. Sounds simple, but Maurice puts things into perspective: “Operating the crowdfunding page on wemakeit.ch and administering the donations required tremendous effort. I had completely underestimated the whole thing.”
He not only underestimated crowdfunding: “There is so much to plan, not to mention the countless forms! Getting the shop sign approved involved a preliminary application, then an application, complete with visualisations and pictures of the surroundings.” The effort for permits, schedules, payment transactions and orders is huge. Since he lacks the relevant experience, he depends on professional support: The Z-Kubator, a ZHdK support service for design and culture start-ups, helped him draw up a business plan and provides legal advice on employment contracts and insurance. The effort has definitely been worth it: The shop is now open, and its newsletter subscriptions have multiplied thanks to the crowdfunding campaign and press coverage.
Refuelling on analog
It remains to be seen whether Maurice Müller’s confidence in print is justified. His idea definitely has potential: A report by market researcher Ipsos found that the surveyed millennials explained their increased use of analog media in terms of digital fatigue. Maurice’s Print Matters! now offers a cure for this exhaustion: Sit down in the shop on Hohlstrasse, take a magazine off one of the homemade shelves, and immerse yourself once again in an article, undistracted by flashing Whatsapp news or Instagram push messages. You even get a cup of coffee — on a donation basis — from the Bialetti machine. “Getting a drinking license would have demanded complying with hundreds of requirements and filling in countless forms. And the budget wouldn’t have paid for a real coffee machine anyway,” he laughs.