In 1966 the first Benetton store opened in a closed street in Belluno, an Italian town on the slopes of the Dolomites. "If it works here, it will work everywhere," said Piero Marchiorello, son of a city merchant and Luciano Benetton's partner in the enterprise.
The layout of the store was innovative. In fact, it invited customers to comb through and choose their favorite garments independently. Not surprisingly, it was called My Market. As predicted by Marchiorello, it paid off and the two partners soon opened another store in Cortina d’Ampezzo, a high society ski resort.
Designed by the Italian architects Tobia and Afra Scarpa, the Cortina store was an open space without furniture, in which the light brought out the colors of the sweaters and the counter was replaced by a small table at the entrance. The staff intervened only if the customers needed help.
Success exceeded expectations. In the winter of 1967, the Cortina store sold hundreds of sweaters every day. In the following years, dozens of Benetton stores opened in major Italian cities and beyond: in 1969, Benettons inaugurated a new store on Boulevard St. Germain, in Paris.
In the early seventies, there were five hundred Benetton stores in the world. Some were directly owned by the family, others were managed by a network of entrepreneur traders who took a chance and became brand ambassadors. It was a franchise revolution.