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Using metal fabrication to bring retail design trends to a tire store
By: Bob Buchanan
Call it lifestyle design. Call it the Apple Store effect. Whatever you call it, one thing is clear: retailers are paying a lot of attention to the way their store environment looks and feels. And they should. The design and functionality of a space can make customers feel better or worse about their experience. Some studies say it can even make them spend more money.
Apple was at the forefront of this trend, creating comfortable spaces where customers can get hands-on with products. McDonalds was not far behind, completely overhauling their restaurant interiors to create a more upscale look. Lately we have been working with retail display and point-of-purchase design firms to apply the same concepts in other settings. Here is one example.
The concept: a comfortable, high-tech tire store
For this project, we worked with the firm developing a new pilot concept for a nationwide chain of tire and oil change centers. The automotive industry might seem like an unlikely place to have Apple Store-like design, but consider this: Customers often wait at the shop during service. And sometimes customers come in the store stressed out because of a flat tire or similar unexpected hassle or expense. When you’re in that situation, wouldn’t you want to be more comfortable? You bet!
That’s why the designers created a concept with a comfortable waiting area and high-tech touches like flat screen TVs. They even designed a window so customers could see their car in process – just like watching it go through a car wash! The point was to make the wait more comfortable and relaxing.
On the other hand, they wanted to make the buying experience hands-on like an Apple store. That makes sense when you think about buying tires. Some people understand the difference between tread patterns and other features. But others want to see and feel product differences to make an informed choice.
But here’s the problem: How do you create a restaurant-like environment while also providing lots of hands-on display space for tires? The solution was in good design – and in finding a partner (bo-mar, of course) to translate the renderings to real life.
Going from concept to reality
The design firm worked with bo-mar industries to make the space attractive and functional. This included figuring out how to:
- Hide the tires behind the wall, but make them accessible for sales conversations
- Build 10-foot tall computer monitor holders
- Make curvy, swoopy design pieces out of metal
- Mount advertising marquees to the wall using a bolt pattern that allowed for changes in sign shape and size
On top of that, bo-mar recommended how to make all of these pieces modular so they could be shipped easily and assembled in store by employees.
It was a challenge of fabrication technique, engineering skills, and design knowledge. And we loved every minute of it!