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    Low-Cost Remodel

    Runner-Up: Grand Food Center, Winnetka, Ill.,  Designer: Mehmert Store Services 

    Runner-Up: Grand Food Center, Winnetka, Ill.

    Designer: Mehmert Store Services

    Known for its starring role in the beloved 1990 film "Home Alone,” the Winnetka, Ill.-based Grand Food Center’s local landmark status wasn’t immune to encroaching competition or impressive new-construction stores. Indeed, 20 years after serving as the go-to grocery store for a fictional Kevin McCallister, Grand Food Center faced declining sales in a facility that was dated, cramped and well past its prime.

    In collaboration with Sussex, Wis.-based Mehmert Store Services, owners Dan Klebba, Kevin Salus and Chris Barber were intent on breathing new life into their store as a high-end perishables market with a budget-friendly remodel that accomplished its goals.

    The 16,000-square-foot facility added an almost 5,000-square-foot addition to its front, allowing customers to notice the significant change from the adjacent highway. In addition, the eastern and southern exposures now enable natural lighting to flood the facility, thereby creating an open space that makes it feel larger while encouraging shoppers to explore.

    The irregular shape of the addition demanded a nontraditional design approach. The use of natural material and flexible merchandising -- combined with effective LED lighting -- highlights the product line and fosters a sense of comfort.

    The design substantially improved the visibility of each department, whether each space was physically moved or simply brought to the forefront through position and lighting. The floral department was moved to its new location in the addition’s center, positioned at the end of the produce section, where the two share a prep area. The increased visibility of the extensive produce and floral sections has bolstered customer interest in both product lines, as well as sales.

    To be sure, Grand Food Center’s remodel has certainly paid dividends. With the help of its new design format, overall sales are up almost 25 percent in its first year post-construction, and several departments have increased as much as 30 percent. Grand Food Center’s business model and design are evidence that a small-footprint store in a great location can compete with much bigger players.

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