I <3 Pet Store Signage

An impromptu stop at my local Pet Supply Plus reminded me of how much I love simple graphics. And pet stores, with their categorization by pet type is a no-brainer for fun icon driven way finding graphics. Other chains such as Petsmart and PetCo are just as adept at this. It makes shopping for pet supplies, and pets for that matter, more fun in my opinion.

In PSP they use simple one color (plus white) graphics with pet icons and simple copy such as “CAT”. In a world with overwrought design direction it’s refreshing to see something so simple make it to retail, creating a pool of calm in what would otherwise be a visually clamorous environment.

Breathe.

Ahh…

The store also had a cool community themed endcap, which presumably is customized based on each store location. DO THIS IN YOUR STORE!!! Our research shows that people want a better sense of community in their lives. This endcap is just an example. Do what is right for your store and your community…a coffee desk, amp’d up bulletin board, in-line display…inside…outside…but do something to break away from the big-box photocopy mode.

Lastly I’ll pick on all retailers for a minute. There was a neat Kurgo display that obviously someone spent a lot of great effort and money on, only to be marred by a bunch of repetitive paper call outs on the scanner plates. I don’t know what the answer is but please why do we have to do this. Maybe an extruded price strip across all the hooks and alternate between price and a “new” callout. Maybe don’t use white on the callouts, maybe black or chocolate to match in store, or blue or orange to match the brand. This is 100% just me though and my need for organization and simplicity. So don’t get too worked up over it.

The Kurgo display was pretty rad though with its subtle topographical easter egg on its shroud that keen eyes will delight in discovering. I’d love to find out how they did that (both made it and got it past the bean counters).

I love chain pet stores as a source of inspiration, especially for graphic design and way finding. Think about including them in your pool of resources for inspiration on your next brand or retail project.

And you can always pick up some food for your furry friend while you’re at it.

-Chris


Chris Weigand is a retail experience expert, lover of simple design solutions, and a cat person. His views are his own and he receives no compensation for give products, brands and retailers a shout out. Where he and his firm do get compensation is from bring awesome retail solutions to you. Contact Chris today to discuss your needs – store interior, store within a store, pop up, displays, fixtures….he and his team can help your brand create delightfully awesome retail experiences. 330-858-8926 or chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

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Visit Small Towns To Uncover Retail Gems

Look in any retail design trade publication and you’re presented with glamorous photographs of exotic retail locations sprinkled across the world’s largest metro areas. From big chains to small boutiques, seemingly if you want to see where it’s at in terms of retail design you’d better head downtown, or hop on a plane.

A recent vacation reminded me that you don’t have to travel to the big city to experience the best of retail. We spent our mid-summer family holiday in the town of Ellicottville in western New York state. It’s an international ski town that I’ve personally visited for the better part of thirty years; watching it adapt, evolve and grow. Despite the focus on winter, when the town is flooded by winter sport lovers from across the region (and Canada), it has grown into a vibrant summer scene also. And any time we’re in town we make a point of visiting the stores that line its main streets.

The village (part of the town by the same name) is very quaint and devoid of national chains. It’s a paradise for viewing independent retail up close and personal. Stores have come and gone through the years but vacancy isn’t too high right now so it is a great time to visit. There are several new stores to supplement the old standbys.

I took the time to visit most of the stores, and even talked to a few of the merchants to learn more about their awesome retail spaces. I suspect many of them are designing the stores themselves, and exciting those designs by the sweat of their own brow (one merchant said as much). Whether they do the work themselves, or hire someone (hint, hint) the key is knowing their brand and having that communicated in every way. Most of the stores we visited did this exceedingly well. As a retail designer I didn’t see much I would have done differently, and many things that I found beyond delight as a designer, and shopper.

Walking through the stores reminded me of how much I love shopping and retail environments. It made for a fun morning. An experience that can’t be replicated online. Nor is it easily translatable to mass retail.

So before you book your design team trip to New York City, San Francisco, London or wherever it is you go, consider driving through the countryside closer to home. There are a lot of great independent retailers creating really awesome retail experiences right in front of us.

Where are your favorite hole in the wall retail design haunts? Share in the comments below after enjoying the photos of Ellicottville.

 

-Chris Weigand

President, Chris Weigand Design, LLC

Chris Weigand Design is a full service professional retail design and branding consultancy. We work with companies of all sizes to design compelling design solutions that connect with customers. We love shopping, we love going out to stores and seeing what merchants are doing. We enjoy creating really awesome solutions for our clients. Contact us today at 330.858.8926 to find out how we can make your store a place that people love to shop.

One Of A Kind Frame Display

(This is the second of two reviews of cool projects we just completed for independent retailers. Visit us at www.chrisweiganddesign.com or contact us at chris@chrisweiganddesign.com to find out how we can help your business with retail design services. I will update the photos once we get some good ones.

-Chris Weigand)

A 4x4 island display for showcasing fine art.

A 4×4 island display for showcasing fine art.

Hudson Fine Art & Framing

When Hudson Fine Art & Framing moved from a century old Georgian mansion across the street to an equally old former drug store it was an exciting new opportunity to strum up more foot traffic. We were fortunate to be tasked with helping organize their interior space with a couple of new displays.

First off we designed and made two moveable island displays. The displays would provide a backdrop for patrons looking into the windows of the store. The 4’x4′ units are light enough though that they can be moved around when more space is needed. Each features a wall panel and integrated hanging rail for wall art. The elevated base can display dimensional art products such as furniture or sculptures. Paint and stain that matches the rest of the historical space completes the look, and makes for a neutral presentation. Perfect for highlighting the wonderfully unique works of art that guests can view and purchase.

In addition to being a fine art gallery, Hudson Fine Art & Framing also caters to customers who need framing and frame restoration services. As is common in framing shops there are is a vast array of frame samples for customers to choose from. Most often these samples sit flat on a wall and take up a lot of space. Occasionally a spinner is out posted for frame samples, once again taking up precious space.

We were tasked with organizing the frame samples in a more efficient yet effective manner. The design we came up with is a one of a kind frame sample wall display, with page frames that can be browsed – flipped back and forth.

We started out by measuring the current square footage of the frame samples in the old store, and figured out that eight (8) two-sided panels would display the bulk of the samples currently in inventory. Each panel holds about 150-200 samples each. Overall the unit measures 66″ wide and about 90″ tall. The unit takes up a fraction of the wall space that would be needed if you spread that many samples out on a flat wall.

The unit consists of a lower base, upper wall unit and the page assemblies. We designed the frames and had Armstrong Products in Oklahoma custom make them for us – round tube frames with a black “carpet” wrap. The samples adhere to the panels with velcro. We fabricated the wood components in-house, finishing them in a walnut stain to match the rest of the store interior. The upper and lower parts of the display are bolted securely to the wall and the panels simply drop in.

In all my years of designing retail solutions, this one display is one of my favorites. It truly is simple and innovative. It also looks and functions great. All hallmarks of what we bring to the table as retail designers.

The client is so happy that we have plans of adding another, smaller display down the road to showcase additional frame samples.

Take the time to stop by and view all of the wonderful art at Hudson Fine Art & Framing. And be sure to check out their one-of-a-kind frame display.

The only frame sample display we know of that looks and functions like this space saving design by Chris Weigand Design

The only frame sample display we know of that looks and functions like this space saving design by Chris Weigand Design

Latest Project – Open Door Coffee Company

(We just wrapped up two local projects that were pretty interesting. I need to get some better photos but for now I’ll share what I’ve got.  Here is the write up for the first one. These are both for independent retailers.  If that sounds like you, and you would like some help with your next retail design project, visit us at www.chrisweiganddesign.com or send me an email at chris@chrisweiganddesign.com to talk about what you’ve got going on. We’d love to help.

-Chris Weigand)

The installed cash wrap awaiting register, pastries and customers.

The installed cash wrap awaiting register, pastries and customers.

Open Door Coffee Company

Open Door is a new coffee shop, whose doors opened for a preview night this past Saturday in Hudson, Ohio. The cafe “opens the door” for customers to enjoy fair trade coffee, tasty pastries, even live music and poetry readings.

We met with the owners as they were mid way into refurbishing what was once an old neighborhood drug store. The building is over a hundred years old. It’s a perfect corner spot for a coffee shop. Right in the center of the interior space stands an old marble soda bar. The bar colors, pink and dark green, are difficult to work with, but regardless it’s a great feature that brings back fond memories to local residents who grew up sitting at that bar ordering sodas on warm summer days.

Adjacent to the bar we were tasked with designing and building a cash-wrap with storage below and a partition for pastry display. Budget was a major concern. As with any new shop, funds are spread thin, but cash wrap is a necessity. We could make something from the ground up, but was there a way to offset some of the cost?

The answer was found in the basement, but not necessary where we stared looking. The owners mentioned an old granite top in the basement – so we took a look. Our thought was it could save us the expense of fabricating a laminate top. Turns out the granite color was worse than the bar marble, or at least the combo together would have been awful.

While we were down there though the owners mentioned an old pharmacy cabinet in the next room. Maybe that could help save some money.

Turns out the cabinet dimensions, 25″ deep x 80″ long x 34″ tall, were perfect. The hefty frame would be a great skeleton for mounting a new counter top to.  And you can’t buy the charm you get with reusing an old piece of furniture. In fact several old merchant pieces already found a home upstairs in the cafe.

We got the okay from the landlord to repurpose the unit. We were excited at the find and excited to be giving a second life to the unit, which likely dated from half a century ago.

The plan was simple: install a new laminate top, and attach an old door to the front face. The owners had several doors that were salvaged from local farm houses that we could use. The patina on the one we chose for the cash wrap was a light green, with cracking that you couldn’t replicate if you tried. A few days later the doors and cabinet were loaded up and on their way to our shop.

For the counter we selected Wilsonart 7922 Brighton Walnut. It’s color and grain was a perfect match for the existing century old wood work in the store. The cabinet had a few subtle trim details that we were able to retain. The old door fit perfectly between trim and cabinet. We cut a second door to wrap the one corner and installed a shelf inside. During construction the glass bypass doors were discovered, as well as additional shelves, so that help offset costs as well. Installing the counter brought our finished height up to 36″, which kept us within ADA guidelines.

A low “fence” surround was fabricated for the register; made simply of 3/4″ boards wrapped in laminate. We installed a tempered glass sneeze guard around the area that pastries would be displayed. As of this writing, we’re waiting on one more piece of glass for the sneeze guard: we decided to cover all three sides instead of just two. Adjacent to the wrap will be a custom display case that will be lower than we originally planned. Thus the additional sneeze guard.

Everyone seems very pleased with the results. It was an awesome opportunity to help a new independent retailer open shop. And it goes without saying repurposing furniture that has a history is very rewarding from a spiritual standpoint, not to mention environmental and financial standpoints as well.

The finished wrap helps convey the Open Door Coffee Company brand, and lends a degree of authenticity you just don’t get from mass-produced displays.

Do stop by for a cup of coffee, delicious pastry, and start making your very own memories.

A drawing that is typical of what we use when designing and fabricating a custom piece for a retail store.

A drawing that is typical of what we use when designing and fabricating a custom piece for a retail store.

The unit was not light. It took three of us to lift it off the trailer and through the front door.

The unit was not light. It took three of us to lift it off the trailer and through the front door.

 

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