When American Eagle decided to go after its core customer’s younger sibling, it started with an online concept. Then, last year, 77kids made its debut into bricks-and-mortar with its own store environment that’s designed to promote curiosity and creativity among the littlest of consumers.
At the Cherry Hill, N.J., location, that means plenty of kid-inspired store elements. The 5400-square-foot space is divided into boys and girls areas, with dressing rooms for each that are designed to resemble club houses. (The boys’ rooms have a “keep out!” sign, while the girls’ have “peace” signs.) A denim canyon of stacked boxes in the center of the store organizes jeans by style and wash. “They allude to the cardboard boxes that kids love playing in,” says Michael Neumann, principal of New York-based firm Michael Neumann Architecture LLC, which designed the prototype for 77kids. “And it’s very easy to shop.”
There are also lots of interactive elements. Kiosks allow kids to virtually try on clothes, watch videos or pretend to be disc jockeys. Ceiling-mounted projectors produce shifting images on the floor, depending on the movement of kids and parents in the store. The cashwrap houses a display case for accessories and candy that’s inspired by an ice cream counter.
The majority of the store’s materials are also kid-proof, including galvanized metal countertops, recyclable plywood boxes with blunted edges and solid foam blocks covered in felt. Kids can even scribble on the chalkboard beneath the cashwrap.
And to give parents the chance to feel like a kid again, touchscreens let customers take pictures (photo-booth style) to pin up on a community board or take home with them. “It’s a fun experience even for the parents,” Neumann says.
Retailer: 77kids, Pittsburgh (Project design: Michael Smith, director, store design and fixturing; store fixturing: Mark Wolff, senior manager, fixturing; store design and visual consultant: Chele McKee; marketing and technology: Brian Franks, vp marketing)
Design/Architect: Michael Neumann Architecture, New York (Michael Neumann, principal; Vivian Prunner, project manager; Talin Rudy; Christine Longcore; Patrick Gegen; Benjamin Keiser)
General Contractor: Tom Rectenwald Construction, Harmony, Pa.
Technology Consultant: RGA