Contract - Design Practice: Smaller, Sustainable Retail

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Design Practice: Smaller, Sustainable Retail

10 August, 2011

-By Joseph P. Nevin, Jr.



The economy has had a major impact on all aspects of business―from the way we operate our firms to the way our clients approach their projects. Over the course of the past three years, I have seen two trends emerging in the retail environment that I expect will have a long-lasting effect on how retail spaces are designed.

The first trend is the downsizing of retail formats. The creation of smaller-format stores allows retailers to go into locations that they previously could not consider. It allows them to get into higher-profile locations with increased customer traffic, greater visibility, and a convenience factor. These locations are closer to where their customers live, making it easier for their store to become a familiar part of the customer’s life and, in turn, a regular shopping spot.

In addition to increased accessibility to the customer, smaller-format stores create the opportunity for a much more focused product offering. These stores also have lower staff and inventory requirements, cost less to build, and take less time to develop. Combined, these factors contribute to higher sales per square foot.

Two retailers that have pursued smaller format stores are Cabela’s (shown above left) and Bassett Furniture, which have been successful in both getting closer to their customers and significantly decreasing the overall store development timeline.

retail smaller format

Cabela’s typical large-format sporting goods store had occupied 150,000 square feet, and was developed as a freestanding building on sites located adjacent to major highways. These big-box stores were recognized in some states as top tourist attractions, often drawing adjacent construction and development of hotels, restaurants, and other retail establishments. A customer’s visit is typically a planned one as these large Cabela’s stores are destination sites. In May 2010, Cabela’s opened its first smaller-format store as an anchor tenant in the Mesa Mall in Grand Junction, Colorado. This store, at 75,000 square feet, is half the size of the large-format store and located in a high-traffic urban mall location.

Prior to 2007, a typical Bassett Furniture store’s size was in the 25,000- to 30,000-square-foot range, and was built as either a freestanding building or incorporated into home furnishings–oriented shopping centers. Since then, Bassett has developed two new concepts in reduced formats. The first concept involves redesigned stores of 14,000 square feet that offer a dramatically different customer experience focusing on lifestyle, customization, and accessories. These stores are being built in specialty centers that have a broader non-furniture retail focus. The second concept, with an even smaller format of 8,000 square feet, is focused on custom upholstery and lifestyle. The first of these stores is located in a small, high-traffic neighborhood center with a grocery store, coffee shop, restaurants, and complementary retail venues.

The second trend is the growth of sustainably developed retail environments. Retail has historically lagged in adopting sustainable building practices due primarily to the focus on upfront store development costs, short-term leases, and a general lack of understanding of sustainable building practices. In recent years, however, inspired retail companies have been providing the leadership to develop such environments.
 
Companies like L.L.Bean embrace sustainability in their core corporate values. TD Bank, as part of its environmental strategy, is achieving its carbon neutral goal by building greener buildings, lowering its energy consumption, and making a significant investment in renewable energy from sources like wind, solar, and low-impact hydro power. Retailers such as these are building sustainable environments not just because it is part of their core values or because it exemplifies good corporate citizenship. It first and foremost must make sense financially and provide a justifiable return on investment (ROI) for its investors and shareholders. Short-term payback and reduced long-term operating costs were the primary basis for proving the ROI.

Both L.L.Bean and TD Bank went through rigorous processes to develop their approach to creating environmentally friendly retail locations. L.L.Bean participated in the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED® for Retail pilot program, resulting in 10 certified projects obtaining two LEED Gold, six LEED Silver, and two LEED Certified projects. Similarly, TD Bank’s research, investigation, and testing resulted in its commitment to sustainable building and energy use strategy in a new prototype that would target the highest levels of the USGBC’s LEED certification program. To date, TD Bank’s efforts have resulted in more than 20 LEED-registered and three certified projects, including two LEED Platinum projects and one LEED Gold.

All of these projects feature improved indoor air quality, increased daylighting and daylight harvesting, state-of-the-art energy management systems, and reduced energy consumption. Materials in the buildings are high in recycled content, repurposed materials, and FSC-certified woods.

These two trends, downsizing and sustainability, not only afford environmental and economic benefits, but also create significant design opportunities. Stores can do more with less by tightening their inventory and their belts, and curbing their energy appetite thereby reducing their carbon footprint. Retailers can be nimbler, less limited in their leasing requirements as a result of their ability to fit into more varied-sized spaces, and more enticing in their offerings as they are forced to weed out weaker merchandise to fit into these smaller spaces. These changes are positive for the retailer, as well as the customer and the environment.

Joseph P. Nevin, Jr. is senior principal at Bergmeyer Associates, Inc. in Boston. The firm specializes in retail, restaurant, commercial, corporate interiors, housing, and institutional building design. As leader of the firm’s retail specialty, Nevin leads teams of experts in strategic planning, branding, identity development, merchandise planning, visual presentation, and store design andimplementation.




Design Practice: Smaller, Sustainable Retail

10 August, 2011


The economy has had a major impact on all aspects of business―from the way we operate our firms to the way our clients approach their projects. Over the course of the past three years, I have seen two trends emerging in the retail environment that I expect will have a long-lasting effect on how retail spaces are designed.

The first trend is the downsizing of retail formats. The creation of smaller-format stores allows retailers to go into locations that they previously could not consider. It allows them to get into higher-profile locations with increased customer traffic, greater visibility, and a convenience factor. These locations are closer to where their customers live, making it easier for their store to become a familiar part of the customer’s life and, in turn, a regular shopping spot.

In addition to increased accessibility to the customer, smaller-format stores create the opportunity for a much more focused product offering. These stores also have lower staff and inventory requirements, cost less to build, and take less time to develop. Combined, these factors contribute to higher sales per square foot.

Two retailers that have pursued smaller format stores are Cabela’s (shown above left) and Bassett Furniture, which have been successful in both getting closer to their customers and significantly decreasing the overall store development timeline.

retail smaller format

Cabela’s typical large-format sporting goods store had occupied 150,000 square feet, and was developed as a freestanding building on sites located adjacent to major highways. These big-box stores were recognized in some states as top tourist attractions, often drawing adjacent construction and development of hotels, restaurants, and other retail establishments. A customer’s visit is typically a planned one as these large Cabela’s stores are destination sites. In May 2010, Cabela’s opened its first smaller-format store as an anchor tenant in the Mesa Mall in Grand Junction, Colorado. This store, at 75,000 square feet, is half the size of the large-format store and located in a high-traffic urban mall location.

Prior to 2007, a typical Bassett Furniture store’s size was in the 25,000- to 30,000-square-foot range, and was built as either a freestanding building or incorporated into home furnishings–oriented shopping centers. Since then, Bassett has developed two new concepts in reduced formats. The first concept involves redesigned stores of 14,000 square feet that offer a dramatically different customer experience focusing on lifestyle, customization, and accessories. These stores are being built in specialty centers that have a broader non-furniture retail focus. The second concept, with an even smaller format of 8,000 square feet, is focused on custom upholstery and lifestyle. The first of these stores is located in a small, high-traffic neighborhood center with a grocery store, coffee shop, restaurants, and complementary retail venues.

The second trend is the growth of sustainably developed retail environments. Retail has historically lagged in adopting sustainable building practices due primarily to the focus on upfront store development costs, short-term leases, and a general lack of understanding of sustainable building practices. In recent years, however, inspired retail companies have been providing the leadership to develop such environments.
 
Companies like L.L.Bean embrace sustainability in their core corporate values. TD Bank, as part of its environmental strategy, is achieving its carbon neutral goal by building greener buildings, lowering its energy consumption, and making a significant investment in renewable energy from sources like wind, solar, and low-impact hydro power. Retailers such as these are building sustainable environments not just because it is part of their core values or because it exemplifies good corporate citizenship. It first and foremost must make sense financially and provide a justifiable return on investment (ROI) for its investors and shareholders. Short-term payback and reduced long-term operating costs were the primary basis for proving the ROI.

Both L.L.Bean and TD Bank went through rigorous processes to develop their approach to creating environmentally friendly retail locations. L.L.Bean participated in the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED® for Retail pilot program, resulting in 10 certified projects obtaining two LEED Gold, six LEED Silver, and two LEED Certified projects. Similarly, TD Bank’s research, investigation, and testing resulted in its commitment to sustainable building and energy use strategy in a new prototype that would target the highest levels of the USGBC’s LEED certification program. To date, TD Bank’s efforts have resulted in more than 20 LEED-registered and three certified projects, including two LEED Platinum projects and one LEED Gold.

All of these projects feature improved indoor air quality, increased daylighting and daylight harvesting, state-of-the-art energy management systems, and reduced energy consumption. Materials in the buildings are high in recycled content, repurposed materials, and FSC-certified woods.

These two trends, downsizing and sustainability, not only afford environmental and economic benefits, but also create significant design opportunities. Stores can do more with less by tightening their inventory and their belts, and curbing their energy appetite thereby reducing their carbon footprint. Retailers can be nimbler, less limited in their leasing requirements as a result of their ability to fit into more varied-sized spaces, and more enticing in their offerings as they are forced to weed out weaker merchandise to fit into these smaller spaces. These changes are positive for the retailer, as well as the customer and the environment.

Joseph P. Nevin, Jr. is senior principal at Bergmeyer Associates, Inc. in Boston. The firm specializes in retail, restaurant, commercial, corporate interiors, housing, and institutional building design. As leader of the firm’s retail specialty, Nevin leads teams of experts in strategic planning, branding, identity development, merchandise planning, visual presentation, and store design andimplementation.

 


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