In beautiful downtown Montreal, tourism—and shopping—easily take center stage, with streets lined with flashy flagship stores that compete to draw in customers. With a year-round, bustling population of visitors, the location sets a high standard for retail venues, meaning a small shop like Jean Coutu Pharmacy needs to go the extra mile to make an impression on shoppers.
The owners of the chain store knew it was time for a renovation to keep the store competitive and bring not only its aesthetic but also its functionality up to par. They approached Groupe Chagall Design, a firm specializing in one-of-a-kind interior environments, and tasked them with creating a striking, two-story retail outlet that could house more merchandise and facilitate the fluidity of customer traffic to increase sales potential.
“As designers, along with the client, we wanted to improve the customers' shopping experience. We wanted to make the standard store concept evolve,” says Marie-Eve Béliveau, interior designer, Groupe Chagall Design. “We had to make sure the circulation was fluid, that signage was clear, that merchandising was inviting so shoppers would feel at ease and would make their visit last longer than usual.” However, according to Béliveau, the designers faced a few unique, structural surprises.
Since the pharmacy is located in a historic building, and therefore protected by the city, care had to be taken to keep the exterior storefront intact. Additionally, the existing structure presented some unique elements to work around, such as a large, central support column and a split-level floor plan that made getting patrons to the second-floor more of a challenge. But rather than finding workarounds, the team decided to integrate the existing elements into visual highpoints that would enhance the store’s impact.
The design team utilized the existing structural column at the heart of the 6,170-sq.-ft. space as a focal point and central pivot to divvy up the retail sections. Nearby, a nearby glass, quartz, and metal staircase leads customers to the store’s prescription department and over-the-counter merchandise selections on second level, which is highlighted by an overhead ceiling outcrop to add a sense of movement and wayfinding. (View "more photos" in the gallery
Customers are welcomed in the store by a grandiose cosmetics department, where architectural reliefs add dimension and intrigue above shoppers’ heads. Taking a cue from nature, Béliveau and the team of designers focused their aesthetic on a water theme, which can be seen as a symbol of well-being, healing, and beauty.
Interlaced millwork details, finished in glossy plastic laminate and silver glass mosaic tile, stretch across the high ceiling in wave-like patterns, adding a sense of movement and distinguishing the section from the general shopping area, which boasts standard rectangular panels of acoustic tile with thin, florescent lights. The featured black and gray tones vary from standard color conceptions, which are normally white shades.
Since the store’s opening in June 2010, customer traffic and sales have increased significantly. “This project was a great experience…a good example of what Groupe Chagall Design does: design to sell,” says Johanne Bousquet, president of Groupe Chagall Design. “Everything in the customers' shopping experience was taken into consideration and improved—layout, merchandising, signage, lighting, wall textures, branding images, and decor. All of this to make the shopper feel at ease, and make him want to take his time and stay longer.” Mission accomplie!