We Love The Glove Signs At Lowe’s

It’s Spring, so that means nearly non-stop trips to Lowe’s for various and assorted supplies to complete all the projects we have back at the ranch. While there I came across this wonderful glove display near the bird food and doors leading outdoors. I just had to share it with you.

glove-sign-at-lowes

glove-display-detail-lowesThe look is super simple but highly effective. Sign panels organize the glove shopping experience by type or durability of product. It’s easy to shop because of the awesome iconography, color and plenty of visual negative space. Looking closely you notice the icons are die cut from 1/4′ board – presumably Sintra PVC. In this case it’s a good use of materials, assuming the display stays up year round and doesn’t wind up in a landfill. The natural shadowing and stand-off icons liven up the display. It looks upscale yet right on brand. Were Lowe’s to follow this visual brand language throughout the store they would definitely elevate their retail experience and separate themselves from the competition.

I also love the large format header with the bird house icons above.

Overall the display had be running over to it, and is easily seen from thirty or more feet away.

Well done.

Sustainable Ideas For Your Store

Reusable bags in lieu of plastic bags is a good step to make your store more sustainable.  Photo courtesy of Corbis.com

Reusable bags in lieu of plastic bags is a good step to make your store more sustainable.
Photo courtesy of Corbis.com

With Earth Day yesterday I thought I’d take the liberty to share with you my personal ideas of what you can do to make your retail space more environmentally sustainable. Working in retail design really drove my interest in sustainability. Considering what we were designing, and ultimately manufacturing wasn’t the actual product – everything we were responsible for lived at retail anywhere from a few weeks to only a few years. Then it all ended up in a landfill quite frankly, at least in the early days. I didn’t, couldn’t let that me my legacy. At times I wished people would just buy products out of cardboard boxes on the floor of stores.

Fortunately it hasn’t come to abandoning all things retail, there are things we can do as designers, and merchants, to make store more sustainable. And in reality, this is as much about effectiveness and efficiency as well. Selling products in a delightful, engaging way, while minimizing excess costs and materials. It’s also about making intelligent design, manufacturing, and implementation decisions.

And as with anything, some retailers – chain and independent alike – do a great job already, and are leading the way. For others it’s not even on their radar, even in this day and age. But that’s okay, it’s never too late to start reaping the rewards, or taking it to the next level.

So without further ado, here are my quick thoughts on making your retail experience more responsible, smarter and earth friendly.

LED Lighting – I’ve been keeping tabs on LED lighting at retail for over ten years, and finally the technology is mainstream…ready for your store, regardless of who you are. The capabilities in terms of working hours, color rendering, and color temperature exist to meet all of your needs: from lighting jewelry, to food, from sporting goods to greeting cards. LED lighting will save you money not only via your electric bill, but also your maintenance costs because the LED “bulbs” last so much longer than incandescent light bulbs. Plus your retail presentation won’t suffer from burnt out bulbs hiding behind egg crate grills. Get rid of the ugly light diffusers and grills and let your lights shine. LED solutions are available in a variety of form factors from light strips to ceiling fixtures to individual bulbs.

Graphics – I’m a big fan of letting graphics, printed with environmentally friendly inks on sustainable substrates, do a lot of your retail experience heavy lifting at retail. Graphics afford the retailer flexibility at a lower cost as opposed to being stuck with burdensome displays that may go out of style or function. Try to stick with printing on paper based materials. There no need to print on styrene or other plastics unless the you’re planning on keeping the signs for a year or 500 years. If you do use these petroleum-based substrates, have a recycling plan in place – find a recycler before you burden the public landfills with that much material.

Temp Displays – Use temporary displays. They’re made from corrugated board which contains a lot of recycled material, or virgin material made from trees, which are renewable. The displays are recyclable so make sure you are recycling your displays, often times as simple as throwing them in the bailer. Make sure your displays aren’t contaminated with too many plastic components which can ruin a batch of recyclable board. Resist the temptation to use styrene shelves for show, even if you’re in the cosmetic industry. Just don’t do it. If you thought temp displays were too low brow for your store, look again. They are available with a variety of high-end finishes that make them look fantastic. Or better yet, look at direct printing them to get a chic eco feel for your product or store.

Think Modular – Modular systems, if done right can be the saving grace for your retail store. I’ve designed several of these systems and they are a good way to get a comprehensive solution at a lower cost, with better use of materials. Components can often be shipped K/D (knocked down) to save on cost and fuel usage. The flexibility of the system means you won’t need a new display every time something changes in your retail business. Made from durable materials they’ll last for years. And they can be updated without remaking the entire system – think accent panels, graphics, accessories.

Keep It Simple – Product and your brand should be the main attraction. Don’t embellish just for the sake of embellishing things. Too often I see random materials and complexities added to a retail design project for seemingly non-brand enhancing reasons. These things add complexity, cost and material. Know your brand and let that guide your decisions. Less is more.

Paint – Use zero-VOC paint to spice up your space. Paint is flexible in that it’s easy to change the feel of a space without a lot of cost, or environmental impact. And don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit – paint different walls different tones and have fun with it.

Use Materials Wisely – Plastic lasts forever, yet at retail what doesn’t change in the blink of an eye. If you use plastics, make sure there is a good reason, and make sure you can, and will recycle them when their life in your store is through. Metal is an awesome material with intrinsic value. Even if you throw it out, someone will garbage pick it and sell it for scrap. Just be mindful of shipping weight which equates to fuel usage. Wood is a great renewable material. Strive to use water based finishes and avoid too many contaminants such as laminates that can make the wood likely to end up in a landfill. Wheatboard, or clear coated MDF are interesting options to look into; though MDF is so-so from an environmental standpoint. There are even countertops made from paper.

Okay, there are just a few ideas. Regardless of what you do, do something. As I said, in the end you may find it’s not only good for the planet but also for your bottom line.

-Chris Weigand

President, Chris Weigand Design, LLC

Chris Weigand Design is a design consultancy specializing in helping independent retailers and entrepreneurial brands excel at retail. Check out www.chrisweiganddesign.com to find out more. Contact us today to learn how we can help make your retail experience more sustainable and engaging.

 

 

For Authentic Retail Experience, Shop Local.

Terry-Lumber-accessory-table

I love going to our local hardware store / lumber yard. Terry Lumber Supply has been a fixture in the Peninsula area for over 70 years. The last 28 years they’ve been selling lumber, hardware and supplies out of their current location in our local Ohio hometown.

Even if you aren’t a retail designer, or merchant, a trip to Terry Lumber Supply is a treat, especially if you like to explore. It’s not a large store but it packs plenty of opportunities to browse; discovering things that you might need for that weekend project or the “to do” list your spouse handed to you.

The interior is not overwrought in my opinion. Walls are simply painted white and the ceiling is a grid of tiles. A cupola with clearstory windows adds a stream of natural daylight for the center of the store. Beyond that degree of simplicity though guests are welcome to explore rambling aisles and a plethora of old displays. I suspect many of the displays date clear back to when the store was founded by John J. “Terry” Montaquila in 1940. And they are still being used to display modern products. As a designer it’s like walking through a retail display museum. I always feel like I need to go back and spend more time there. That being said, there is a lot packed into one store; giving it the charm of times past. But it’s an authentic charm. Not manufactured and not trying to fool you. That case holding threaded rods? It’s the real deal, likely pulled from a local library decades ago.

There is a full complement of tools, plumbing supplies and paint. Each area has been curated and shaped over the years; merchandising product without fanfare, but with a unique local feeling.

It just feels like “home”.

In one corner is the most wondrously quaint fastener area. Nails and screws sit in open bins and are bought by the pound, using a vintage scale, presumably the same way as you would buy such things nearly a century ago. You just don’t get that experience in a big box store. That same sentiment extends to other areas as well. It’s what really differentiates this independent retailer from its mass brethren. When you go there your project feels more special, more historical. You’re not just buying commodity boards of wood and a hammer, you’re human, you’re part of something.

An old scale for weighing nails for sale by the pound.

An old scale for weighing nails for sale by the pound.

Terry-Lumber-tail-display-2

I’ve learned to go right to the spacious desk area and ask for input from the staff on my latest supply needing endeavor back at the homestead. Accessibility, courtesy and knowledge of associates also sets them apart, just as it should in any independent store front. Sure I may not be able to find everything, or the prices may be higher for particular items, but the guest experience makes it well worth any perceived tradeoffs. And actually, when we were building our home nearby, this local little shop was able to order a specific type of house wrap that couldn’t be found in any other store or sales channel.

Over time it’s definitely worth building a relationship with the team there, just as you would with an insurance person, doctor or mechanic. In the long run it’ll make life easier when you’re in a DIY bind. And building that relationship is a pure delight in such store environment. I think you can even still get a cold soda from a vintage cooler near the checkout area. And with Spring warming up, that sounds like a good way to take a break from working outside on a Saturday afternoon.

The point here is that local stores naturally gravitate towards an authentic retail experience that is difficult to recreate on a mass scale. Even so, there still are opportunities for design to improve the experience and functionality. Regardless though, as a designer it’s always refreshing to shop locally; discovering, admiring and refilling my creative spirit.

What’s your favorite local store that you love to explore?

What is it about the store that makes you smile?

Answer below in the comments, after the photos.

-Chris Weigand

President, Chris Weigand Design

Chris has been designing retail displays and environments for nearly 17 years. Chris Weigand Design is focused on making design accessible to independent retailers. Contact us today by visiting www.chrisweiganddesign.com