The Kingdom’s Shop

This article appeared in the May, 2014 edition of Venture.

 

From and handicrafts, to armored cars and military figurines, Urdon Shop aims to champion a huge range of Jordanian-made products.

By Jane Hosking

It was three years in the making, but Urdon Shop, which exclusively stocks and promotes Jordanian-made products finally opened its doors in Jabal Amman in May. The store will showcase everything from handicrafts, food, clothing and accessories, to armored vehicles, desert boots, and detailed military figurines.

Owned by the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, the Urdon Shop and the wider Urdon brand will sell products made by individuals and communities from diverse backgrounds for the purpose of encouraging social and economic development.

Urdon Shop CEO, Osama al-Asa’d, expects competition to be low due to the uniqueness of Urdon Shop’s products. “You won’t see our products in the market,” he said, explaining the shop will sell high-end heritage goods that represent Jordanian culture. To ensure this uniqueness, suppliers will exclusively produce and supply their products to the Urdon Shop to be sold under its brand.

Al-Asa’d explained that while the brand is a for-profit company, the main focus is not on profit, but on expanding the demand for Jordanian goods at home and abroad in order to create more jobs for Jordanian suppliers and producers. Of the goods sold in the shop, al-Asa’d noted that above market prices will be paid to the suppliers, meaning that the markup on the products in the shop will be around 10 to 15 percent. He explained that this would allow the suppliers of the goods to receive a fairer wage.

“We aim to create jobs that are sustainable and to share in making a future for Jordanians around the Kingdom…especially for the less fortunate governorates in the south,” al-Asa’d said. He further explained that Urdon Shop would maintain sustainable business arrangements with local producers, providing them with a platform to collectively showcase and sell their products.

But the aim is not to only sell these products under the Urdon brand, but to also provide recognition to the original producer, with the hope of allowing many of them to expand and become independent in the future. To achieve that, the products sold in the shop will maintain their original branding in addition to the Urdon brand, along with a short story of where the product came from and who has produced it. By selling under the Urdon brand, these local producers will be provided with the support and marketing assistance required to launch them into the market.

Al-Asa’d explained that Urdon shop has three different types of products. These include products that are promising but need to improve in quality and packaging; high quality products that are not packed well; and quality products that are packed well but have not been marketed effectively. Urdon Shop aims to assist the producers of these products so that they can improve the standards necessary for sale under the Urdon brand. “We have talented people in Jordan,” he said. “But they just need a push and they need suitable funds.”

The shop, located off Rainbow Street, also has a café that will source its produce locally and feature Jordanian culture and musicians. While al-Asa’d expects the café, with its stunning view over downtown Amman, will be a popular attraction for tourists, he has a different market in mind for the goods sold in Urdon Shop. “I’m not here for the tourism in specific,” he said, explaining that his customers are more likely to be corporate companies, the diplomatic community, and Jordanians living both locally and abroad.

In order to extend the market for Jordanian goods, Urdon Shop plans to expand its reach locally, regionally, and abroad. In the first phase of the expansion, al-Asa’d expects that Urdon Shop will supply its products in various locations within Jordan, such as museums and galleries. In the second phase though, he plans to go international, starting with the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

To extend its reach even further, Urdon Shop will make its products available online to buyers all over the world. Al-Asa’d expects that Jordanians living overseas will find this service particularly useful as he has observed a demand from people who want high-quality Jordanian products to give to family and friends or to have in their homes abroad. “I see them in the summer when they come here to Rainbow Street to buy Jordanian things to take back with them,” he said.

The inclusion of the military line of products in Urdon Shop may seem a little unusual alongside jewelry and handicrafts, but these products are what make Urdon Shop unique. The military-inspired products, such as the desert boots and armored cars, come from al-Asa’d’s links with the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) where he previously worked for ten years. “This is KADDB’s aim that Urdon Shop help represent them outside,” said al-Asa’d. He further explained that while there is competition in the region in the production of armored cars, KADDB is able to mass-produce its products at a higher quality and lower cost than their competitors because they are the manufacturer and the partner dealing with Jordan Armed Forces.

From the military line to the handicrafts, Urdon Shop has something for everyone wanting to take a little bit of Jordan with them, whether home or abroad. Both customers and the producers set to benefit from Urdon Shop will no doubt be looking forward to the opening this month and the expansion to come in the years ahead.