Play N Trade, Hodgkins, Ill.

Video-game chain broadens stores’ appeal with lighter, brighter materials.
Posted December 7, 2009
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Play N Trade’s stores used to feature an all-black environment designed to appeal to hard-core video gamers – typically, lone male teenagers. But the retailer’s target audience was evolving.

“The two fastest-growing segments of the gamer market are females and adults over 50,” says Ric Sorgel, vp, retail strategy at EWI’s Interior Works Group, the design firm the retailer hired to update its store environment. “We wanted to redesign the store to appeal to this broader audience, so we created a much brighter and inviting space.”

That new look includes silver metal fixtures, bamboo wood surfaces and blue accents (the latter reflecting the brand’s signature color). Another major change was the addition of a separate Players’ Club at the rear of the store. “Previous store layouts had eight screens alternating with wall merchandisers,” Sorgel explains. “As a result, when franchisees had tournaments or parties, the gamers interfered with the shoppers, and vice versa. The creation of the Players’ Club eliminated those problems by giving tournament gamers their own space.”

Designers also worked to improve the product presentation within the 1500-square-foot space. “We talked with a broad spectrum of gaming customers before redesigning the store, and one message kept coming through: Organize the space better by putting all the consoles, games, hardware and accessories in one place,” says Sorgel. “
The modified store layout includes a hierarchical signage system to further help customers find products.

Officials at Play N Trade, which currently has about 250 stores, say they’re pleased with EWI’s efforts. “We believe that this new prototype raises the bar for our industry, and sets new standards in gaming retail,” says ceo Larry Plotnick. The company adds that the new design will be an integral part of its aggressive expansion plans, which call for tripling its number of stores to 750 by 2013.

Project Participants:

Play N Trade, Newport Beach, Calif.: Tony Gillette, senior vp, retail operations

Design, Fixtures and Signage/Graphics
EWI Worldwide, Interior Works Group, Milwaukee:Ric Sorgel,– vp retail strategy; Jean Didier Allongue, vp creative director and designer; Tracy Cogswell, art director, graphics; Pam Renick, vp research; Alison Fry, creative director, graphics

Samsung, Ridgefield, N.J.

Armstrong World Industries, Lancaster, Pa.

The Mohawk Group, Kennesaw, Ga.

Amerlux Lighting provided by CS Illumination, Vista, Calif.