2012 Store Design Contest: Masters of Design
By Meg Major
PG proudly crowns a new compilation of award-winning store designs that are setting the differentiation bar a few decisive clicks higher while staying true to their distinctive local roots.
From a brilliantly rebuilt community-focused store situated in the heart of Oklahoma's "Tornado Alley," to a family-owned independent grocer seeking to re-establish its mojo with a broad and changing urban Chicago clientele, these and eight other supermarkets that have opened in the past year have been chosen as the first-place winners of Progressive Grocer's third annual Store Design Contest.
Five categories — two for new ground-up construction, as well as three budget levels for remodeling projects ranging from modest to unlimited — again gave operators of every shape and size a chance to be recognized in the following classes:
Found on the following pages are profiles of all first-place winners only; additional coverage of the Store Design Contest's runners-up and honorable mentions can be found on our website, progressivegrocer.com/StoreDesignExtra.
Overall Store Design: New Construction, Over 50,000 Square Feet
On first glance, it might be easy for a passerby to mistake what appears to be a well-preserved vintage warehouse in Edmond, Okla., for a sleek and stunning destination supermarket. But step inside the inventive, open-air Uptown Grocery Co. and it's plain to see why the 50,000-square-foot facility has become a destination store that's rapidly made its mark in the upscale Oklahoma City suburb.
Once the exterior and interior designs were finalized, the store's owners, Hank and Susan Binkowski, were steadfast in seeking to avoid a traditional big-box store feel in favor of a one-of-a-kind concept design.
Just inside the vestibule of the main entrance are oversized photos of Oklahoma's rich history that set the stage for an efficient floor plan that welcomes customers with a charming circular Floral Fusion floral department and a convenient event-planning hub.
An especially exciting element of the overall interior design package is the different color schemes highlighting each department. The massive arches of silver-iron scaffolding, backed with a soft-blue glass, define the areas and impart an industrial feel.
A soaring, 35-foot ceiling expanse envelopes a gourmet prepared food area that's adjacent to a striking produce department featuring more than 140 organics and an extensive and inviting combo bakery/cheese shop. Nature's beauty is in full view in the multi-department fresh food area, thanks to three-story glass windows, which aptly enhance the produce area, where custom-made shimmering red and green wood cases and knotty pecan wall treatments further solidify the open-air farmers' market feel.
Glacial-blue glass tile shimmers against the soft light in The Great Grains Bakery, reminiscent of icing on a cake, while warm red-stained bricks perfectly enhance the curved maple bakery cases highlighted by flour-shaken Uptown logos that draw the eye toward the oven-fresh breads.
Stainless steel mosaic tiles gleam from the sushi and Wedgery cheese bars and Gourmet Grille sandwich, salad bar and prepared food station, which also maintain the "gleam theme" with all-stainless cases.
All of the savory fare can be enjoyed on-site in the Gourmet Everyday 90-seat café, where plush red couches are nestled with front-row visibility of the demonstration area used for "Learn With Lunch" cooking and educational events.
A retro-chic 1950s ambiance sets the tone in the meat department, dubbed The Butcher Block, which houses an array of traditional and purely natural fresh meats, seafood and dry-aged beef.
LED lighting is also used heavily throughout the store, where almost all if its frozen and refrigerated cases have doors.
Overall Store Design: New Construction, Under 50,000 Square Feet
This store's interior is testimony to the Pruetts' passion for food. Food-related quotes from James Beard, Meryl Streep, Julia Child, King Solomon and others are subtly displayed using tone-on-tone colors.
The floor is a combination of dyed concrete and vinyl plank flooring. The produce department implements a light wood-looking vinyl plank, and regional artwork was employed to accentuate the produce.
Particular attention to detail was paid to the meat department, which features a 9-foot-wide hand-carved wooden bull head. A large window lets customers look into a meat-cutting area clad in wood-look porcelain tile. Rough-cut wood siding, rustic signage and framed antique décor elements adorn the walls in the packaged-meat area. The look is completed with wood-look vinyl flooring and rustic accent lighting. The earth-toned color scheme is calming for customers.
The store introduces a hot-food deli with indoor and outdoor seating areas. The indoor seating area is covered with a pergola canopy that, along with rock-finished walls, gives the feel of bringing the outdoors inside.
The pharmacy displays the Hippocrates quote "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food," which ties the department to the rest of the grocery store.
The store has reported a 50 percent sales increase over the previous location.
Ethnic Design: New Construction, Under 50,000 Square Feet
A former Dunlaps department store was skillfully repurposed to become a captivating El Rancho Supermercado, part of a Garland, Texas-based grocery chain catering to a fully Hispanic clientele. The project's main objective was to create an authentic shopping experience where customers could feel at home and embrace the new store as their own.
Aiming to replicate the look and feel of life on the Mexican Riviera (the country's western coast), the interior design is highlighted by a 175-foot mural created from small-scale oil on canvas, photographed and then transferred to larger wall covering. Starting on the store's back wall and continuing throughout the building, the scenic vista brings to life a series of images ranging from plains to desert to seaside cliffs to the underwater tranquility of the Gulf of Mexico.
To showcase the handmade foods and signature departments throughout the store — including a tortilleria and fresh Mexican breads, cakes and pastries prepared in a panderia — items are displayed against authentic cultural materials such as hand-woven thatched roofs, wooden-back shutters, and restored balcony banisters paired with faux bricks, embossed vinyl stone, foam-textured arches and simulated wood panels, to complete the colorful interior.
Large three-dimensional buildings and hand-painted landscapes provide a realistic backdrop for the store, which also offers a full-service palapa for fresh juices and salsa, alongside a wide and varied assortment of authentic Hispanic foods from around the globe.
The fun and exciting store opened to an overwhelmingly positive consumer response, and continues to outperform original projections.
"Sky's the Limit" Remodel
Customers at this store are greeted by a friendly green interior and a hand-painted field mural denoting "fresh," while the latter "masses up" the amount of visual produce without the extra shrink, and the highest color-rendering LED technology trains 200 foot-candles of light on the product. The floral department's "greenhouse" look was created with monochromatic acrylic panels trimmed in hand-washed mullion wood strips and a custom trellis, complete with a copper rail to display plants.
The deli and salad bar comprises aged real-copper panels, horizontal hand-lettered bands of whitewashed wood and upright vertical panels. Colorful custom art, produced by hand in pastel, shot with a camera and then transferred onto tile, features actual items found in the deli.
Adding some visual variety between the deli and meat sections, lettering draws the eye down the wall to the service meat area. Historic photographs and the legend "Serving you since 1948" highlight the service counter and convey the message of a long-established community connection.
The bakery section's ambiance was created through warm woods, copper tiles along the service wall and the addition of a copper soffit running the length of the department. The soffit features a cove that holds uplighting to help create the illusion of a "floating" copper band.
Wrapping the dairy walls is a custom hand-painted mural applied to wall covering, designed to create the sense that the section's products have just been delivered from the farm to the store. A mural also enlivens the liquor department, along with LED merchandise lighting and a soffit separating the section from the main sales area to control light levels and add definition to the space.
Since the remodel, the store has seen a sales increase and won back many former customers, according to owner John Cosentino.
Use of Advanced Equipment, Design & Fixtures Remodel
After taking the place of a former Safeway-owned Genuardi's store in Bear, Del.'s Governor's Square Shopping Center, the former 53,000-square-foot facility not only gained an extra 12,000 square feet during its conversion to a ShopRite by a new owner, Bernie Kenny, but also an appreciative base of new and repeat loyal customers who flock to the location in record numbers.
Having undergone a complete renovation in a record 14 weeks from the time of permit to certificate of occupancy, the store serves as a model of a superior integrated interior design that incorporates the latest technology to deliver an extremely energy-efficient, astutely merchandised state-of-the-art supermarket.
With the goal of reopening the store against an extremely tight timetable, the design configuration established by Blackwood, N.J.-based design firm Cold Technology began with an eye toward maximizing sales of both perishable and nonperishable departments via proven, cost-effective technologies that would provide maximum energy savings at the lowest initial cost.
The entire design methodology embraced Emerson's Intelligent Store Architecture scheme, which seamlessly integrates all of the building's refrigeration, HVAC and lighting systems into a unified business intelligence and support system. The refrigeration system included energy-efficient Stratus refrigerated display cases from Kysor/Warren, as well as specialty display cases by Southern CaseArts (formerly Southern Store Fixtures).
The refrigeration system design also incorporated electronic expansion valve controls of all evaporators, ECM fan motors, LED-lit reach-in cases, Copeland Digital Discus compressors and Bohn energy-efficent rooftop condensers using variable-frequency drives. The HVAC systems, meanwhile, feature DX dehumidification and fully proportional controls by way of the condensers, supply fans, analog economizers, fully modulated gas-fired heating and Copeland Digital Scroll cooling, as well as "demand ventilation" to significantly reduce the ventilation load requirements.
Lighting loads throughout the facility are controlled by Cutler Hammer smart breakers that eliminate the need for contactors while providing the ultimate in flexibility and precise lighting-zone control throughout the sales area and back rooms.
The store opened on time and within its original budget, and has since exceeded original projections by delivering an exceptional shopping experience that includes extensive foodservice and frozen food departments, along with a full complement of expanded fresh food departments. Meanwhile, other display areas throughout the store provide ample space for enhanced grocery, HBW and nonfoods, including a wall of values and a dedicated promotional aisle, all of which have resulted in a location that's estimated to be doing nearly four times the business of its predecessor.
A total remodel and expansion brought this location from 20,920 square feet to 32,330 square feet by means of taking over an adjacent tenant space and building an addition to the back of the store.
As well as a new front entrance offering a vestibule with cart storage, the remodel added a hot-food deli with a customer seating area, new bakery and service meat departments, a more prominent customer service desk, a bigger produce area, and updated frozen food cases. Design features include dyed concrete flooring, new ceiling and general lighting, the addition of accent lighting, and new paint and wall covering.
Wall tile with a rustic glass accent, wood laminate, faux-leather wall covering and glass-accent lighting add to the rich look of the new deli and seating area, while an elegant dyed-concrete floor pattern, accent lighting and a custom mural in the produce department help accentuate the product and create a comfortable place to shop.
Further, a new overhead soffit, wall covering and décor, along with sophisticated wall tile and glass-accent tile, draw customers to the brand-new meat department, which is the heart of Hays' business.
The well-received remodel has yielded a 35 percent sales increase over last year, exceeding the store's projections.
Mid-budget Disaster Recovery Remodel
On May 10, 2010, the Boyle family's Country Boy Market in Little Axe, Okla., was in the direct path of two devastating EF4 tornadoes that ripped through the eastern side of the nearby town of Norman. Employees and customers took shelter in a freezer as the storm tossed cars and debris across the parking lot like toys. The store's roof was completely blown off, and all but a few sections of the walls were torn down.
Since the location was the only grocery store within a 10-mile radius, it was imperative to rebuild and reopen it as quickly as possible to resume serving the community that so desperately needed its local grocery store back in operation.
With the concrete slab serving as the sole element that remained intact from the original structure, the rebuild revolved around a warm color pallet accentuated with pops of color and high-visibility graphics. The VCT flooring is cleverly integrated with the décor to achieve a cohesive design that runs from the floor to the ceiling. A prominent design feature is a 46-foot-wide-by-10-foot-high custom mural that memorializes the day the original store was destroyed by the storms.
Owner Danny Boyle credits his son, Scott, as the driving force behind the artful rebuild, which also features an elegant, expanded deli department offset with wall tiles and accent lighting. The produce department also employs warm colors, but the décor offers an interesting three-dimensional optical illusion to emphasize the freshness message to customers, while the accent lighting showcases the produce itself.
The meat department, meanwhile, features a mural of "dancing flames" that plays up the eye appeal of the busiest department in the store, and is carried over into a floor pattern featuring bright yellows, oranges and reds.
Since Country Boy Market is located close to Oklahoma's many recreational lakes, the beer department is a strong contributor to the store's bottom line. As such, the beer cooler is flanked by an attractive, high-visibility graphic image that can be immediately seen upon entering the store.
While the Boyles would never want to relive the events of May 10, 2010, the resulting silver lining is the creation of beautiful new store that has not only recaptured the old location's business, but has also ultimately emerged better than ever.
Faced with the primary challenge of blending varying ceiling heights of the existing structure into a new deli/bakery/produce addition with a substantially higher ceiling, the Shawnee Sun Fresh store was successfully transformed from a tired, dated location into a fresh new shopping experience.
The first task at hand for the remodel was to create a warm, comfortable environment, which was achieved by selecting a butterscotch ceiling color fused with warm textures contrasted with metal. The design incorporated a 2-foot linear bamboo band on the walls throughout the store, underscored in each department with distinctly different colors and catchphrases for each.
A series of 5-foot brushed-aluminum art pieces were used in the bakery/deli/produce addition to accent and create vertical height to reinforce the main objective of the new design, which aimed to make the store visually larger.
A bamboo buttress installed on a curved soffit frames the service meat area, which features silver-tone tiles for the walls, contrasted with warm pendant lighting over the meat cases.
The dairy department's attractive white circles and black linear shelves are replicated on the floor to frame the products in the cases, while also imparting a feel of fluid movement.
A bright and inviting sunburst rests atop the entry/exit doors, reinforcing the pleasant ambiance that has resulted from this admirable low-cost remodel.
Low-cost Remodel: Urban Format
A family-owned independent grocer since 1950, Potash Markets currently has three locations in downtown Chicago: two stores nestled among the skyscrapers, and a third on the 44th floor of the John Hancock Center.
Potash sought to upgrade the stores to appeal to a broad and changing demographic. Sussex, Wis.-based Mehmert Store Services designed, planned and administered the project, which included an updated branding/logo concept incorporated into the interior décor, signage, employee apparel and marketing materials. At its location since 1962, the State Street store underwent a redesign that encompassed an extensive interior and exterior renovation, with the challenge of a tight sales and operating space.
Another key goal was to enhance the shopping experience by promoting even better customer service. Self-service for years, the meat and seafood department now offers full service to facilitate one-on-one contact between customers and staff. The open dairy and beer cases were updated to shopper-friendly, energy-efficient reach-in doors.
The décor was updated with warm earth tones and natural materials to create an upscale environment. Customers now enter a gracious produce area with a visual connection to service deli, meat and seafood in the rear of the store. Meat-cutting operations were moved to the basement level, providing a more open area for service meat and deli, and allowing room for a central-island salad bar, which has proved to be a big hit. Overhead graphics in the beer and wine aisle, including a simulated hanging-pergola ceiling, make the area feel like its own unique destination within the store.
Outside, the existing grey concrete façade was painted a rich, dark green, earth-tone cultured stone now wraps the planters below the storefront windows at the sidewalk and entrance, and burnt-orange awnings provide functional protection for pedestrians, as well as an elegant and vibrant attraction to the store.
Since the completion of the project, total sales have increased more than 10 percent.
Low-cost Remodel: Resort Town
Tom Clark Sr. and his son, Tom Jr., owners of Clark's Market, a centrally located grocery store in scenic downtown Aspen, Colo., that serves a spectrum of customers ranging from celebrities to locals, knew their busy store was in need of an update. After multiple discussions with the designers from Decorworx, the final decision came down to a "décor-only" remodel with an end result that would feel "uniquely Aspen" and appeal to both customer segments.
With this in mind, the design team pored through countless books and photos at the Aspen Historical Society for ideas and inspiration, which proved to be highly productive in light of the resulting core redesign, which reflects the flavor and pride of the local community, as well as offering historical glimpses of Aspen's past for tourist patrons via custom wood frames that accent vintage black-and-white photos throughout, including the back story of Clark's Market and its founder showcased on the store's main valance.
Meanwhile, all of the wall décor enhances the feeling of Aspen through unique treatments like a real Aspen tree trunk, a skier and a hiker. Other special décor elements adorning the store include a milk splash made with a climbing rope; metal sculptures; lightly colored, delicate acrylic aspen leaves drifting toward the checkout; an artistic salmon made of layered metal; and stained glass to enhance the vintage feel, in a nod to the eclectic artists' village nearby.
A lighting challenge was skillfully overcome in the produce department with hanging custom-designed panels from the grid ceiling, which has since been transformed into a beautiful original artwork featuring sunflowers and stained glass.
Along with the décor, a new logo was created for Clark's Market to complete a design that's timeless, localized and, indeed, uniquely Aspen.
570 Lake Cook Rd, Suite 310
Deerfield IL 60015
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