While Aaron was in class in Switzerland (which was the entire point of the trip) I had time to wander around Bern and Thun. Unlike the US shops close early, 5pm and are not open on Sundays. When they were open, I enjoyed browsing and window shopping.
Even if it's raining in Bern, you can stay nice and dry as you are shopping because all the streets have arcades. After the city burned down in 1405, it was decided that all sidewalks should be covered with covered sandstone arcades.
Albert Einstein even wrote to his fiancée in 1902.. "Both sides of the road are completely lined by old arcades so that one can stroll from one end of the city to the other in the worst downpour without getting noticeably wet,"
Another unique feature in Bern was the use of basement space. Along the street you would see cellar doors similar to what Dorthy was trying to get to during the Wizard of Oz tornado.
The Bernese make good use of these basements by occupying them with shops.
You could even find cafes down through those cellar doors.
Similarly, in Thun, there were two levels of shops. Not necessarily basements... but there were ground level shops which then had sidewalks on their roofs with access to another level of shops.
Fodor says it better... "On the Old Town's main shopping thoroughfare pedestrians stroll along flowered terrace sidewalks built on the roofs of the stores' first floors and climb down stone stairs to visit the "sunken" street-level shops."
Such good use of space.