Retail Renovation Competition, First Place
Renovation – Specialty Store, Sales Area Under 10,000 SQ. FT.
Ben Bridge Jewelers, Tukwila, Wash.
Submitted by: SkB Architects, Seattle
To become approachable to a younger clientele (specifically those under 35), Seattle-based Ben Bridge jewelers knew its Southcenter Mall store needed a refresh to match the needs of its shifting customer demographic. It all boiled down to creating an educational shopping experience, explains Deb Wolf, Co-Lead Designer of SkB Architects (Seattle). “Let’s face it, it’s intimidating to buy jewelry for most who do not have the experience or knowledge base,” she says. “Newer generations want a less-pressured experience with a more personal touch – something unique, but at an attainable cost, and a less precious outlook on the idea of jewelry.”
The SkB Architects team essentially reverse-engineered the store design by getting to know Ben Bridge Jewelers’ current and potential customers by hosting a variety of consumer types (loyal, non-customers, those under 35, etc.) at various locations, which revealed that, ultimately, a common thread was a necessity for “positive relationships with sales staff, the drive for uniqueness and craft, and the ability to educate customers in casual ways,” says Wolf.
To craft such an environment, designers integrated education into areas where shoppers could touch and play, along with strong product showcases and a hospitality-centric feel. Creating a sense of freedom was important, too, so shoppers felt they could meander and browse offerings without feeling pressure to purchase. VMSD Renovation Competition judges Vicki Wiesman, Senior Designer at The Kroger Co. (Cincinnati), and Brian Shafley, Consumer Experience Consultant (Columbus, Ohio), both noted a great improvement with the newly expansive sightlines. Judge Claudia Cerchiara, Client Leader – Retail, BHDP Architecture (Cincinnati), applauded the brand for matching its new store design to a younger demographic: “They’re speaking to their target customer.” By breaking down barriers – both physical and perceived – the store conveys a sense of discovery to consumers of all ages.