Store Design: Materials

I was researching another project when I ran across these book stores. I was looking for examples of how different building finish materials can change the perception of merchandise quality in a store design, and as these views are void of brand signs, they allow for a fairly objective comparison on a store planning level as well. The examples were good enough to turn into an article as follows:

Store 1
Store 1

Store 1 – This first store reminds me of Strand Bookstore in New York City, locally famous for used books, which should not come as a surprise as the plastic on the windows, mismatched fixtures, cheap but effective fluorescent lighting and existing brick walls and wood floors all suggest, not only extreme economy, but also sustainability. The chairs and wide aisles suggest a comfortable and possibly entertaining shopping experience. In NYC this equals “shabby chic.” Anywhere else it risks being just shabby.

Store 2
Store 2

Store 2 – The actual fixtures used in this store, likely high quality painted wood, display the merchandise for maximum advantage and provide storage as well. Nevertheless, carpet and acoustic tile floors and ceilings are strictly utilitarian, as is the lighting, which is adequate but stylistically dated as it is used here. The monotone, high foot candle light level removes the possibility of any particular focus or feature areas, as does the “many evenly spaced rows” type of layout. This ambiance is all about volume and possibly crosses over to discount.

Store 3
Store 3

Store 3 – This appears to be a high profile, historic, urban environment that is possibly a destination unto itself. Efforts have been made to help the store fixtures disappear into the location. Wood shelving and display tables match existing architectural trim and carefully placed invisible light sources outline perimeter merchandise walls artfully tucked under the balcony. Like dancers in a grand ballroom, table top displays nicely present the merchandise to main floor shoppers. A polite, public mood prevails.

Store 4
Store 4

Store 4 – This is another example of how existing buildings can drive the retail ambiance of a space. Exposed structure, skylights, stone walls, and distressed concrete floors identify an industrial loft type environment made relevant by the addition of colorful art lights, and a bit of modern ceiling material. Tall store fixtures made of construction grade wood emphasize the soaring ceiling height and merge into the prevailing aesthetic. One might be surprised to find that this trendy store, like store 1, is also selling used books.

Store 5
Store 5

Store 5 – Perhaps the most unique of the stores, this is defined first by the the top to bottom wood finishes and then by the contemporary parkitecture, including the shelving units carefully incorporated therin. Visions of everything from Hoss Cartwright’s Ponderosa to Bilbo Baggin’s Hobbit Hole are conjured. The place practically invites the shopper to enter a mysterious world of fantasy.

Store 6
Store 6

Store 6 – Finally we have the shop of no finishes, except of course the books, representing the weighty world of gold bound illuminated manuscripts and classic volumes read and reread over time in days when they had more than just historic value. This is the revered library showing up in Patrick Rothfuss’, The Name of the Wind.

Finally, it is of interest that, in spite of differing book sizes, the shelf heights have been maintained to form continuous horizontally aligned rows of books in all of these stores.

All photos on this site belong to the author, are used under Creative Commons or with permission from the photographer. The source may normally be found by following the link attached to the photo.

Bridget Gaddis, of Gaddis Architect, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

Setting Up Your Business — Correctly — on Facebook

A few weeks ago I sat down with an Alexandria business owner to look at his business presence on Facebook.

“Hang on,” he said. “I need to log out from my personal account and log in with my business account.”

Does that sound like you?

A lot of business owners, concerned about personal privacy, create entirely separate logins for their business.

There’s good news: That’s not necessary!

Facebook allows business owners to set up business pages that are entirely separate from the business owners’ personal Facebook presence without having to create a new Facebook account. This set-up makes it quick and easy to switch between personal and professional Facebook identities and allows business owners to designate other page administrators and editors to help lighten the workload involved in social media marketing.

Unfortunately, this business owner’s son – in addition to the separate login issue – had set up the business as a person on Facebook, not as a proper business.

Combined, the drawbacks and consequences of these two errors are significant. In addition to violating Facebook’s terms of service and putting your businesses’ presence on Facebook at risk (yes, Facebook can and has deleted business profiles for being improperly set up), you may be losing out on a valuable suite of online services Facebook offers to businesses. These include Facebook Insights, Facebook ads, boosted posts, administrative ease and more.

Here are two ways to tell if your business is set up correctly on Facebook:

You should not have to log out and log in with a different account.

If you are logging out and logging in to control your business’ Facebook presence, you don’t have to do that anymore.

Facebook allows you to just log in with your personal Facebook account and be an administrator or an editor of any Facebook business page. One of the benefits is that this allows you to switch easily between your two identities (personal and business) without compromising your personal privacy – fans of your business page will not be able to see photos of your kids unless you allow them to do so.

Further, Facebook allows you to designate admins or editors for your Facebook page without having to share a username and password. That means if you’re too busy to post to your Facebook business page, someone else can help you out.

On a less happy note, if you have to fire or lay off an employee who had access to your Facebook business page, it’s very quick and easy to remove their access to that page without having to change and redistribute your Facebook business password like you would with a separate login.

Your business should not be masquerading as a “person” on Facebook.

What’s the difference? If a business is set up correctly as a business page and you have more than 30 fans, you’ll have access to Facebook Insights (in the upper left portion of your Facebook page), a valuable tool that can help you reach more of your businesses’ fans.

Also, a person can become “friends” with people on Facebook – a business should not be able to do that. (If you get a “friend” request from a business, it’s a telltale sign that the business is set up incorrectly.)

Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to switch your business from being a “person” on Facebook to being an actual business. Facebook simply turns your businesses’ friends into fans – no questions asked. The conversion is free.

Need help getting your business set up properly on Facebook? Contact me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to walk you through the process.

Beth Lawton is founder and CMO of Canoe Media Services, an Alexandria-based business that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses shine online with smart social media marketing, blog content and more. More information is available at www.canoemediaservices.com.

Which Social Network is Right for Your Business?

so-many-social-networks
so-many-social-networks (Photo credit: socialmediahq)

Options abound when it comes to social media – there are dozens of “major” social networks (those with more than 500,000 active users) and new social platforms hit the market all the time.

With the optimism and energy behind starting your own business, many entrepreneurs create business profiles on several social networks, only to find they don’t have the time to manage all of them. A social profile that’s neglected can negatively affect how customers perceive your brand.

So how do you decide where to put your social media marketing energy? First, think about why people visit different social networks.

A recent study by IPG Media and 140Proof showed more than 107 million U.S. adults belong to more than one social network. Of those, more than 78 million belong to three social networks and almost 60 million belong to four or more.

The reason, users say, is because different platforms are better suited to different interests. (In other words, your customers probably are not going to the business-oriented professional network LinkedIn to find the latest viral cat video.)

Here are a few questions to consider when choosing your social presence:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Is your business inherently visual in nature (like fashion or real estate) or is your business based more on information?
  • How much time can you dedicate to maintaining your social presence? Some networks require more work than others.
  • What’s your goal for your social media marketing efforts? Do you want to be thought of as an expert among other industry leaders, or do you want to increase the number of people buying a product from you?
  • What’s your brand’s personality?

IPG also has a great chart showing topic areas and what performs best on which social network – you can see the chart here.

The best advice for businesses on social media, no matter the platform: Be yourself, engage with your customers and clients (respond to their inquiries quickly and thank them for their contributions) and keep your social media presence fresh and updated.

Beth Lawton is founder and CMO of Canoe Media Services, an Alexandria-based business that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses shine online with smart social media marketing, blog content and more. More information is available at www.canoemediaservices.com.

Retail Store Design: Avoiding the “Tchotchke Effect”

As a retailer, the last thing one wants is for their merchandise to be associated with the terms like worthless, disposable, or tacky. Yet, if it looks like tchotchke because of the manner in which it is presented, that is exactly what is communicated.

The primary remedy for the tchotchke effect is to recognize that the problem exists in the first place. I have seen business savvy start ups and experienced retailers alike end up with stores resembling tourist traps. The effect has many causes. Things like high inventory levels, lack of storage, and mixed product lines are physical issues that, in my experience, are easy to fix. Psychological blocks, though, resulting in denial, can undermine store performance. Causes aside, if the symptoms are not completely evident from the photo above, here are a few main ones: over crowded merchandise, no departmental definition, no visual focus, mixed and non matching store fixtures, cheap lighting, exposed equipment… the list goes on.

Restraint is the operative word when it comes to avoiding the tchotchke effect. After that, there a few visual rules for effective retail store design that work.

1. Create a design concept.

2. Use only store fixtures that stick to the concept.

4. Place key merchandise at eye level.

3. Vary the scale.

4. Leave some empty space.

5. Create a feature.

6. Repeat in an organized way.

7. Color coordinate.

8. Use props and graphics to visually reinforce your product.

Bridget Gaddis of Gaddis Architect is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

My big secret…

my big productivity secret small businessMy Big Secret is…

Whenever I go away from my office for an extended time (such as vacation or illness), I come back two to several days earlier than when I let everyone know I’m back to work.

Okay, there; I said it. What a relief?! Now, why would I tell you that? Because there’s something about being productivity as a Small Business owner that evades many and being productive makes my heart sing. And, I want you to have that feeling too. If you get back a few days earlier than everyone thinks you’re back, you have time to stabilize your home life and then triage your work projects before the onslaught of communication and so forth swings into action when you are publicly back to work.

One the many great benefits of doing this over the years is that my time away from the office is purposeful no matter if it’s vacation or illness. If it’s vacation, I can spend it with the people I care about that I’m with, knowing that I will return to work with the time needed to get caught up and back on track. No need to do those things while I’m on vacation. Further, if I am on vacation and the urge compels me to do something, it’s usually in a creative capacity and I can capture the ideas and know that I will have a time and place to map out a realistic, strategic goal when I get back from my time away.

Why not just tell everyone that you’re back a few days early?

If I did that, the staff (including my colleagues and clients) would start to anticipate and that’s the death knell of the strategy. Keeping employees and independent contractors on their toes–not to be sneaking up on them, mind you, as I trust the people I work with and so should you–is about not allowing you nor them to settle into well-worn business paths that start disable passionate effort. There are many other ways to “keep honest people honest”; financial fail-safes and team-building activities. I do not return to work usually by going into the office so it’s not a matter of looking over anyone’s shoulder. I’m trying to get my work life in order, not theirs! We can all argue over the finer points of this, but you don’t have that kind of time. You’re an active (as I don’t like the word “busy”) entrepreneur! However, I believe that when people become too used to norm, they become complacent and you are their leader; they need you to keep the passion burning and your ability to prepare, triage and excite them are all inherent in this strategy.

Why not prepare before for your departure?

Actually, I do in a way. I am always preparing for the inevitable time when I may be from the office expectedly or otherwise. And, I recommend that you do so as well. There is a rate of diminishing productivity return on investment when you cram. Hopefully you learned the lack of value of this tactic in secondary or undergraduate education. Also, my staff and colleagues and clients are already well-poised to deal with my absence. Why? Because I have trained them to stand in my stead in different capacities along the way. You can do the same thing and watch the stress melt away. It’s usually your “feeling” that I might be letting them down that would makes you want to do more than is reasonable before you leave. Resist the urge, plan and implement everyday continuity plans for your business operations.

Sometimes I don’t know I’m going to be away for an extended period and so I treat everything as my esteemed colleague, Lou Kastelic of Jordan Crandus, would say about business. “Run your business as though you were going to leave it tomorrow,” he once told an audience of young entrepreneurs (with myself in the crowd). Be it by sale, by dissolution, or death. You’ll quickly see that your business leaps to great heights of both efficiency and effectiveness when you run your business day as though it were your last…every day. This seems to stand true for my personal and work projects as well. If I work from the perspective that I only have now I will achieve more, notwithstanding the great hope and good certainty that I will live to work another day!

A couple of guidelines.

Yes, some people in your organization may need to know about your big secret. For example, my assistant knows when I’ll be back…for real. And, usually one family member knows my real travel itinerary in case of medical emergency and/or safety concerns. At the very least, someone who can take action to save your life in such an unfortunate circumstance needs to know. Additionally, prepare for what you are going to tackle when you get back. Is it your email that always has you crazed? Plan to come back and tackle your email by sifting through it for however long you determine you need to read, reply (in draft without hitting “Send” until people know you have returned) and digesting and planning the action steps from the email messages that require your movement on projects or tasks. Or, perhaps you need to catch up on your blogging while you have been away from the office or store? Well, plan chunks of your time when you get back to focus on writing, editing and scheduling to publish those forthcoming nuggets of insight and wisdom for your target audience. Finally, make the amount of time match the amount of time you need to get your personal and work life back in order. If you need three days, then don’t come back to the office for three days. If you need only one day, make it one day. If you standardize it to always two days, then your mind will start to tolerate the buffer and it will become ineffective.

If we are living life to the fullest, and living our dreams as entrepreneurs, we must face a few realities with poise and excitement. By buffering days to catch up without typical interruptions, you can come back with ease and stability. Have you tried this technique? Has it worked? Do you have unique challenges you would like clarification on to carry out this strategy in your business? Comment and I’ll be happy to discuss!

Visual Synergy

From http://fixturescloseup.com by fellow blogger Tony Kadysewski

From http://fixturescloseup.com by fellow blogger Tony Kadysewski

Wow! What a great example of what can be done with the most simple and inexpensive props. This photo, from a post by a fellow blogger about how it is easier to sell the idea of color rather than the idea of painting a wall, does a whole lot more than that. It does such a good job of attracting visual attention that even a guy living out of a suitcase might think about looking for something to decorate.

So, let’s consider what makes this work? Not only do the bold colored stools do a great job of counteracting visual noise on the glass, they are at a very recognizable “human” scale. Every one knows what the table in their living room looks like. Also the tables, size wise the biggest elements in the window, are repeated at a smaller scale in the colored boxes and paint samples in the background. These not only have the effect of drawing the passerby directly into the shop, but are also made more interesting because of the suggestive graphic used as a backdrop in the window. The synergy between the window display and the store interior is very successful in this project. The message is clearly that the interior of the store is as dynamic as the exterior. It is a message that is often overlooked by specialty retailers.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

Growth Tips: Networking for 2014

Shaking hands symbol
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can hardly open your browser or a business publication without seeing something about networking. Why? Studies show regular networkers are more successful in business and in life. True for introverts and extroverts incidentally.

Tip 1. Plan your networking

Yes, really. Think about what you want to get from your networking efforts and how they relate to growing your business. Look at what you have done. What has been most effective? Less so? What else do you need to do? Where and how?

Here is your ‘cheat sheet’ of categories – fill each part in with your personal list:
* Professional groups’ meetings
* Individual meetings – specific people in your field and outside it
* Developmental events – seminars, conferences
* Special events
* Potentially valuable groups – research/try new options
* Reconnect – with people you value
* Online activities – LinkedIn, MeetUp, etc.

Tip 2. Define your goals

Don’t just go to events or have coffee with friends and call it networking. Define what you need, what you offer, and what you will do in fairly specific terms. Numbers alone are not worth much.

Consider:
* What do you want to share with others? What do you want to learn?
* Who do you know you might introduce to others?
* Who will you ask for introductions and to whom?

Tip 3. Make it Easy

Never go to an event without a plan. It could be to meet specific people or to learn something valuable talking with many people there. I find it easier to go to events with a ‘wingman’ – introducing him to others helps me meet people too. What works well for you?

Have a goal when you meet with an individual or small group too. What do you want out of the meeting? What are you offering in return?

Keep going! Networking builds on itself.  You need to find ways to maintain your network consistently over time. Pick a process, make a plan and execute it for your success in 2014.

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

Small Business Webinar: Creation, Collaboration, Sharing and Storage in the Cloud

Beyond Google – Marketing and Managing on the Web Webinar Series

Creation, Collaboration, Sharing and Storage in the Cloud

Cloud storage: a confused but evolving market
Cloud storage: a confused but evolving market (Photo credit: joe.ross)

Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:15 PM – 1:15 PM EDT

The Internet has created so many benefits for Small Business…from leveling the Web marketing playing field to offering countless free software for business productivity. But one of the strongest tools to be developed yet was the idea of “Cloud” storage and its collaborative abilities.

What is the Cloud? In practical terms to Small Business, the Cloud allows you to create, co-edit, share and store almost anything on the Web, so that you and your team can access it from anywhere you have Internet access. In this Webinar, Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist and President of W3 Consulting, will take us through the in’s and out’s of using Cloud storage and their major features. We will cover the basics, but also discuss some of the more intermediate concepts in Cloud solutions.

What we will discuss in this Webinar:

  • What is the “Cloud?”
  • How is the Cloud beneficial to Small Business?
  • Overview of some tools to create, collaborate, share and store documents with your team from anywhere in the world connected to the Internet.
  • Guidelines for effectively using Cloud storage and collaboration tools.

Who should attend:

  • Small business owners, professionals, solopreneurs, micropreneurs and entrepreneurs
  • Office managers
  • Marketing Directors and Sales Executives
  • Executive assistants, administrative assistants and secretaries

Register

For more information please contact Tracy Nayar at [email protected]

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