One example of how a great store design can directly influence sales.
Yesterday I took a trip up to Canterbury. I had no real reason for the trip other than to get out of London, and so found myself wandering round the centre of town.
Canterbury is a historic, old town. Those familiar with it, or fans of Chaucer, will no doubt know of the charm of the city’s ramshackle streets. Because of the age of the central buildings and their listed status, the shops in the main drag are not like those in other towns. Debenhams, for example, is spread across multiple buildings and its signage is not the usual modern variety that adorns the department store group’s other shops.
While for Debenhams, it does make the shop look dated and a little parochial, it works a treat for the jewellers of the city. Each jeweller has a real antique feel to it that lends a real charm and sets the strings of pearls and antique peridot rings off beautifully. The majority of the jewellers in Canterbury are very traditional, which is handy considering the planning restrictions, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t create a modern store under ancient conditions.
As I made my way down the city’s St Peter’s Street I found myself glimpsing through the window of a store that had an intriguing store design. This wasn’t a jeweller, but in fact an opticians called David Grimes.
Despite an optician’s shop not traditionally being the most welcoming an environment for a browse, I decided to be cheeky and enter to have a gawp at the design anyway.
The windows of the shop were small, but they had glasses interestingly displayed in old oak wooden boxes, and once inside the shop is fully panelled with dark oak. This quirky original design feature could cause a shop to appear quite stuffy and old fashioned, but the panelling has been juxtaposed with industrial pipes affixed across all the wall space that are used to rest hundreds of pairs of glasses on.
The combination, I feel, creates a really modern effect and shows off what you can do, even in a listed building, with a little creativity. Mr Grimes, however, disagrees; he told me that he actually had intended for it to be very traditional, and the proof to this is the fact that he doesn’t have any sort of computer or technology (other than a phone) out in the front of the shop.
He also says he can’t take any credit for the design; it was actually a friend of his who came up with the idea more than 20 years ago.
Whether or not this little gem of industrialism-meets-traditionalist store design was intentional or not, it works. It drew me in from the street to a specialist shop of which I had no intention of patronising and, mixed in with the fantastic attitude of David and his staff, it relieved me of £169 for a pair of glasses that I had no intention of buying until curiosity led me up the steps and through the front door. Now that’s what I call powerful store design.