Bloomingdale’s, New York

Beauty Makeover: New York’s Upper East Side fashion retailer has completed the massive renovation of its flagship’s ground floor.
Posted November 30, 2009
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After a multi-year renovation that involved moving departments around like a Rubik’s cube, the revitalization of Bloomingdale’s main floor in its Manhattan flagship is complete. Among the results is a large and vibrant beauty offering in the bustling store on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue.

The pulse of the landmark retailer has always been the energy of people scurrying about its center core. However, this did not always present a clear registration of merchandise. The idea was to transform the beauty floor to increase merchandise exposure and offer greater vender identification, while still maintaining the integrity of the Bloomingdale’s brand. Jack Hruska, Bloomingdale’s executive vp, creative services, acknowledged that this was no small challenge but, he says, “We wanted to get the space right.”

Entire families of business had to be relocated to capture the square footage necessary to achieve the desired result. The 60,000-square-foot renovation impacts the beauty and fragrance departments, designer handbags, jewelry, watches, sunglasses and men’s shirts and ties. Step one was to move the majority of the men’s department downstairs to the “metro” level, though men’s furnishings remains in the Third Avenue Men’s Arcade. This allowed for the expansion of beauty into a massive 25,400-square-foot space, with fragrances and fashion accessories moving to the space vacated by men’s.

“The immediate impact was remarkable,” says Hruska. “Back walls are no more than 14 to 16 feet from the aisles, greatly increasing merchandise exposure. Also, interior walls now divide the main floor for the first time in Bloomingdale’s history.” The new plan partitions the main floor into seven individual spaces, with the beauty department divided into three defined rooms. The big concern in segmenting the floor was losing the energy generated by the buzz of customer activity. So president and ceo Michael Gould encouraged each cosmetic firm to present its three best installations from anywhere in the world, then challenged them: “How are you going to make mine better?” So there are exciting new vendor offerings from Bare Escentuals, Shu Uemura, Bumble and bumble, Jo Malone, Sisley and Giorgio Armani Beauty.

To retain Bloomingdale’ proprietary image, Hruska strategically engaged the retailer’s iconic elements, such as the signature checkerboard floor. Ample cross aisles tiled in black and white enhance customer circulation, while uneven floors in the 80-year-old store were leveled to ease transition points. The width of the main aisles was increased by 18 inches and the walls around the escalators were removed. Ceiling-mounted, diffused lighting fixtures eliminate shadows while also reducing electrical consumption.

A strong registration of vendor identity became critical in the newly formatted environment. All brand identification is now clearly visible around the floor, at more than 10 feet on the newly framed walls and 8 feet on existing columns. To balance this strong vendor presence, black glass trim at ceiling height underscores Bloomingdale’s environmental brand image.

Technology and animation are everywhere, including shelf talkers, interactive touch screens, in-counter monitors that communicate merchandise information when product is lifted, digital signage and Wall Street ticker signs. “All counters are crisp and clean,” says Hruska. “They are inviting and encapsulating. They make you want to be there.”

But the new face of Bloomingdale’s is not merely cosmetics. There’s also a spectacular three-level Louis Vuitton boutique and an elegant David Yurman jewelry shop.

“The buzz in the store is contagious,” Gould says. “This is a seminal moment in our history. Bloomingdale’s is taking its partnership with resources to a new level.”

A massive marketing campaign is being launched in the New York-area newspapers, on store windows, taxis, bus panels and shopping bags, all announcing “The Biggest Makeover in New York City.”

Project Participants:

Macy’s Inc., Cincinnati: Jack Hruska, executive vp, creative services, Bloomingdale’s; Shan DiNapoli, store design senior project manager, Bloomingdale’s; Michael Ferrera, vp, store design and planning/asset management, Bloomingdale’s; Rowan Smith, senior project manager, Bloomingdale’s; Adam Malkin, director of logistics, Bloomingdale’s; Bruce Quisno, OVP, construction, Macy’s Inc.; Matt Copeland, fixture administrator, Macy’s Inc.; Mill Hill and James Stocks, project managers, Macy’s Inc.; Scott Miles and Lance Woodward, site administrators, Macy’s Inc.

Callison RYA Studio, Dallas: Denny Will, account/project director; Nicole Pipkin, job captain

Outside Design Consultants
Lighting Workshop, Brooklyn, N.Y. (lighting)

Highland Associates, New York

General Contractor
Seaboard Construction Group, Wall, N.J.

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