Shop with style

October 19, 2016

Kimberly Kinchen, business network writer

Now Bikes, in St. Paul, Minnesota, after their shop redesign. (Image: 3 Dots Design)

Rich Sherman and the owners of Now Bikes needed no convincing. They had long considered a redesign to update the St. Paul, Minnesota, outpost of Now Bikes, which Sherman manages. ?But sometimes you need a kick,? he acknowledges.

Their encouragement was admittedly gentle: Bicycle Retailer and Industry News selected Now Bikes for its 2015 Retail Remodel Project, pairing the shop with 3 Dots Design and Merchandising Werx for an overhaul. The results were dramatic:

Shop owners who think there’s not much to be gained from investing in a remodel should think again. “Today’s consumer has very different expectations of the retail experience than five, ten, twenty years ago,” says Holly Wiese, of 3 Dots. “It’s elevated, from Anthropologie to Whole Foods. Customers don’t have the patience for a bike shop with a bunch of gear just packed in.”

For shops that need a little jazzing up, consider these words of wisdom and advice from Wiese and Sherman:

Design matters. Great design helps customers easily understand what a shop does and quickly find what they want. Heightening products? visibility and appeal can be as simple as creating a cleaner, less cluttered space that invites people in, or by better showing off products through thoughtful placement. For example, says Wiese, “Calling out accessories and nutrition—products that often got lost in the “old school” shop—can be a simple matter of new signage and reorganizing and dedicating space to the product, which encourages add-on sales.”

The investment pays off. “We have never designed a shop yet without seeing a sales increase in almost every category,” Wiese says, noting that post-redesign sales typically increase between 15 and 20 percent. Sherman won?t give the remodel all the credit for Now Bikes’ double-digit increase, but the shop was confident enough in its importance to have recently invested in updating the exterior of the St. Paul store to match the new interior.

You can afford it. “Small, affordable updates can make a huge difference in a store, and you can remodel in pieces over time,” Wiese says. Old fixtures, mannequins, graphics, signage and paint date a shop immediately, but are among the least expensive fixes.

A consistent identity is key. “Selling high-end merchandise in a low-end environment doesn’t work,” Wiese warns. Neither does a style that isn’t true to a store. “We wanted to do clean merchandising with personality; we did not want to feel generic or make customers feel like they were at Ikea.” Sherman says.

Make it a team effort. “Get help from someone who understands retail. Otherwise you are likely to end up with the same problems under a new coat of paint,” Wiese says. Sherman and Bob Sumada, one of the owners of Now Bikes, constantly share pictures and thoughts about retail design, from grocery stores to clothing shops. Sherman also advises that you make sure shop staff are on board and help them understand why the design is happening.

Think of redesign as a constant. “Keep making sure the flow of the design continues to physically work for the shop, so it’s not just conceptual,” Sherman says. To that end, he adds, “Stay open minded. Change is good.”

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