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3 Dots Design

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Mobile Repair Shop Opens Brick-and-Mortar Store

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Published February 24, 2017

by Val Vanderpool

CARY, N.C. (BRAIN) — Retailer Matt Lodder operated a small home-based shop offering mobile repair services for eight years, and as his business grew he realized he needed a larger space. Lodder recently moved his repair and bike fit operation into a 1,400-square-foot space here.

The Cycle Surgeon stocks bikes from Yeti and Argon18 and continues to offer mobile repair services.

“The customer’s needs are important to me, so I will always do my best to meet them. If they are too busy or unable to come to the shop, I can bring my services to them,” Lodder said. “I offer on-site repairs as well as a pickup and delivery service. If someone needs emergency service, I can offer expedited turnaround.”

Lodder also said his shop’s small size lets him be nimble. “Being small allows me the flexibility to personalize your repair or fitting experience,” he said.

Lodder also stocks clothing, components and accessories. He worked with Holly Wiese and Andy Davis of 3 Dots Design on the store design. 

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Seeing the Light

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Seeing the Light

Seeing the Light

Store lighting design can benefit from smart technologies, integration into architecture

by Beth Feinstein-Bartl

As the market continues to evolve swiftly, lighting designers find themselves seeking fresh ways to assist retailers. These strategies are a varied lot, from integrating lighting with architecture to embracing smart technology. All have one thing in common, however: to keep shoppers engaged.

Many shoppers need a new reason to step into a store. Lighting works with merchandising efforts to set a new stage, says Jered Widmer, principal at The Lighting Practice, a Philadelphia-based lighting design firm.

"Technology has pulled many shoppers away from the brick-and-mortar store shopping experience," Widmer says. "Shoppers need to feel like they are in a relevant place—somewhere that is enjoyable. Lighting helps tell that story."

This Bergdorf Goodman in New York City integrates lighting into the walls to highlight merchandise, thanks to lighting design by The Lighting Practice. PHOTO: ANDREW LYNGARKOS PHOTOGRAPHY

Layering for effect

Sean Hennessy, principal at Hennessy Design, a Portland, Ore.-based lighting design firm, believes the best designs integrate lighting into architecture and product displays.

"Our work is increasingly becoming integrated and layered," he says. "The ones we’re most proud of is where you see a careful mix of display and decorative, where the lighting doesn’t feel like an afterthought."

A prime example is the jewelry segment. Lighting is needed everywhere in jewelry stores, so the design must tailor all light fixtures to each application. It all comes down to contrast, Hennessy explains.

Layering often includes placing lighting at product level, where customers interact with the product. For instance, grocery stores with cosmetics and health products have more lighting at the shelf level. The higher the price point, the more layers of lighting, Hennessy says.

Most retail lighting is best with a combination of ambient and accent lighting. Too much ambient makes the space too uniform. Accent lighting provides punch and contrast to the displays, adds Maureen Moran, principal at Washington, D.C.- based MCLA Architectural Lighting Design.

In-case lighting requires thoughtful planning in conjunction with other light sources, as at this David Yurman in New York City with lighting designed by Cooley Monato Studio. PHOTOS: PAUL WARCHOL

Providing focus

Integration of lighting into the architecture and fixturing also makes for cleaner composition and fewer distractions, enabling lighting to provide focus and to direct the customer journey. For example, cove lights or backlit walls can be more effective than penetrating a flat ceiling with downlights, Moran says.

A key component for integration into architecture is the collaboration between designers, architects, and electrical engineers. "This is becoming the norm," Moran says. "The lines are becoming blurred because we are all dependent on each other for results. This gives the design more impact."

Whether it’s backlighting advertising/signage panels or undershelf display lighting, the integrated lighting approach better illuminates graphics and merchandise to attract the eye. It creates exaggerated contrast in the environment that naturally draws people, Widmer says.

"We see this in a lot of applications, including the candy and magazine racks at grocery stores," Widmer says. "The small scale and low energy consumption of LED technology has pushed this to the forefront."

Leveraging smart technologies

LEDs continue to be preferred in retail for their energy savings. Brands are taking the lead on sustainability initiatives, Hennessy adds.

"We’re seeing more awareness on their part," he says. "They are educated and want to be ahead of the curve. They are meeting growing demands from customers, who are seeking companies that give back and embody certain values."

But these days, advanced lighting can do much more for retailers and brands than just save energy. Lighting is becoming more intelligent and reactive; indeed, lighting promises to be key to the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure. LiFi and other smart technologies can enable retailers to employ lighting systems in their quest for brand engagement, longer dwell time, and higher sales per square foot.

"Several lighting manufacturers have developed lighting that can track shoppers, merchandise, and/or employees," Widmer explains. "The technology is still evolving, but retailers can now collect even more data than before, at a higher level of accuracy and in real time."

This allows retailers to not only get a better handle on loss prevention, but also look at employee productivity, stock inventory, shopper habits, and traffic flow. This data can help optimize their performance, Widmer says.

At Chevy Chase Pavilion in Washington, D.C., MCLA Architectural Lighting Design integrated lighting into the architecture, creating a beacon for escalators. PHOTO: MCLA/IRA WEXLER PHOTOGRAPHY

Vetting expanding product lines

With retail’s short lead times, the growing product availability can be a blessing and a curse to lighting designers.

"Retail moves so fast," Hennessy says. "You find the perfect fixture, but if it’s not available for 12 weeks, then it’s not feasible."

The huge range of lighting products on the market gives designers plenty of choices, he says. But it also means designers must spend time vetting products and becoming familiar with their features in order to determine which work best where.

"It’s a huge, complex industry and there’s a need for experts," Hennessy says. "That’s where lighting designers come into play. Clients rely on us to steer them to the best products."

Emily Monato and Renée Cooley, principals at Cooley Monato Studio in New York, agree. "Everything seems to be at risk of being copied for less money and shorter lead times, but not necessarily the same quality," Monato says.

"The lines are becoming blurred because we are all dependent on each other for results. This gives the design more impact." — Moran

Communicating emotions

Monato and Cooley believe lighting should communicate the emotions of the architecture and the essence of the brand. Advances in technology, including smaller LEDs, are making this easier, they say.

Point sources must be accurately matched with linear sources to highlight in-case shelving lines. "The smaller the source, the greater the opportunity for optical control," Monato says.

At the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., the firm’s design contributes to the customer experience in the center’s avenues by organizing and enhancing the lighting with such fixtures as coves, chandeliers, and underlighting bridges. This decreases the visual noise and creates a relaxing, invigorating environment where people easily move throughout the space, Cooley says.

"Brands want to be associated with lifestyle through multisensory identification," Monato adds.

Setting the world aglow

Some of the most challenging strategies stem from deploying designs on a global scale. Most designers agree color temperature preferences vary by country. The U.S. market tends to like warmer color temperatures. Asian countries prefer cooler temperatures.

"Of course, it is dependent upon what materials and surfaces are being lit and the presence of daylight," says Moran.

Hennessy adds, "Even if we’re doing a store internationally, it comes down to the core customer. As often as we can, we seek consistency in all markets. It takes a lot of planning, R&D, and manufacturers."

It can be a delicate dance.

"There’s always going to be a home base—a branding with a particular market in mind, says Monato, whose firm has designed lighting for global rollouts for Michael Kors and Tiffany’s. "We’re having to design to that kind of headquarters point of view, as well as our own aesthetic, and hoping we are striking a middle ground."

For more lighting strategies, attend LIGHTFAIR International, May 9-11, 2017, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

Beth Feinstein-Bartl is staff writer for Shop!.

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Portland’s Western Bikeworks reopens after extensive remodel

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Portland’s Western Bikeworks reopens after extensive remodel

Published April 17, 2017

by BRAIN Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. (BRAIN) — After six years in its Pearl District location here, Western Bikeworks COO Mike Urness decided it was time to modernize the 10,000-square-foot store in order to up its retail game and deliver the upscale shopping experience Portland shoppers have come to expect. 

Urness worked with retail design firm 3 Dots Design to update the shop's interior.  

“We are just finishing the redesign and build-out of our downtown Portland store and 3 Dots was a huge help — from pulling the store design and layout together to helping us select materials, fixtures and mannequins and then connecting us with excellent suppliers and helping with negotiations, pricing and logistics,” Urness said. 

The remodel included carving out a triathlon-specific zone to house tri apparel, accessories, wetsuits and a complete offering of tri bikes. The tri section is located right near the bike fit area, so that high-end triathletes can easily dial in their perfect bike fit. Western Bikeworks recently acquired rights to triathlon retailer The Athlete's Lounge's name and customer base after it closed in 2016.

“This was an exciting project for us to work on, as Portland has some of the best retail stores in the country. This shop suffered from many of the same challenges that typical shops deal with; confusing sightlines, overwhelming bike presentation, uninspiring apparel sections and lack of signage or graphics,” said 3 Dots Design owner Holly Wiese

“I think customers will be very pleasantly surprised with the new vibe and layout of the store, and I’m confident that Western Bikeworks will start selling more product as well,” Wiese added.

3 Dots Design also reorganized the nutrition category and segmented the store's bike selection to make it easier for customers to shop. 

“To the average customer, a bike is a bike. I have a feeling Western Bikeworks was missing a lot of bike sales due to the average customer feeling overwhelmed and intimidated by the process of selecting a bike,” said 3 Dots Design’s Andy Davis. “We further segmented their collections and called attention to each category by featuring a bike in front of a graphic that clearly defines the end use. We also made a huge improvement in their nutrition category by reorganizing, re-fixturing and bringing in a sampling area for customers to try new products.”

Western Bikeworks also operates a second location in the Portland suburb of Tigard, which it opened in 2015. Urness said he plans to integrate some of the same principles of merchandising, graphics and signage from their main location remodel into the Tigard store.

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Boulder, Longmont retailers adopt a moveable feast approach to shopping

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Boulder, Longmont retailers adopt a moveable feast approach to shopping

By Shay Castle

Staff Writer

POSTED:   04/21/2017 03:06:04 PM MDT | UPDATED:   4 DAYS AGO | by the Daily Camera

Jacob Dana has coffee and works on a project at Rapha Cafe and bike store at 1815 Pearl Street. For more photos, go to www.dailycamera.com. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

Sleepy Pearl Street shoppers can take themselves to one of downtown Boulder's dozen-plus coffee shops for a cup of joe. Or they could dash into Rapha, a cycling apparel store.

In need of a taco and a new bike tire in Longmont? CyclHOPS Mexican Bike Cantina has got you covered. Or put some pep in your step via an espresso and a pair of shoes at Flatirons Running.

These local retailers and others have hopped on the hottest trend in retail by offering food and drink to keep customers in the store and off online shopping sites.

"There's so much pressure on brick and mortar to differentiate from the Amazons of the world," said Russell Chandler, owner of Boulder-based Full Cycle. "Anybody can buy a high-end road bike online; you can go find a mobile repair shop. Shops run the risk of going out of business if they don't find ways to build more community."

Full Cycle is in the process of adding a 16-tap beer, wine and coffee bar to its downtown digs (1795 Pearl St.) which it hopes to have open in the coming weeks. Chandler sees it as a way to bring in more bodies and, hopefully, boost revenue.

"We host a 200-person women's bike club that might like to finish their ride up with snacks and beer," he said. "And we rent a lot of bikes to tourists who might want to sit down for a drink when they're done."

Rapha, a cycling apparel store that just moved in up the street (1815 Pearl St.), has "ended up being more of a hangout than a store," according to General Manager Pete Loptino. "People can look at their product if they're interested, but it's more about the culture of cycling."

In addition to the coffee bar, Rapha has a flat-screen TV that will always have a cycling race on it and hosts regular social rides that leave from the store. It's part of building an experience that turns shopping into "more of a social event," said Holly Wiese.

Wiese is a retail specialist at 3 Dots Design, a Boulder firm that specializes in store re-designs that boost profits. More and more lately, that includes adding coffee or sandwiches.

"Over the last three to five years, we've seen it popping up all over in bike, run and outdoor."

The trend isn't limited to active retailers. "Banks are adding full coffee bars," said Allen Ginsborg. (Boulder has one of those, too: the infamous Capital One Cafe that inspired a temporary bank ban on the Pearl Street Mall.)

According to Ginsborg — who develops shopping centers, including Longmont's Village at the Peaks — nail and hair salons are getting in on the game, too, offering wine and beer to customers.

"It's about creating an experience, an environment where people want to linger," he said. "Customers have higher expectations these days; you need to provide something that makes them want to return."

That's particularly important as options for shoppers proliferate online.

Internet retailers, dominated by Amazon, added $27.8 billion in apparel revenue alone between 2005 and 2016, according to Morgan Stanley. Department stores during that time lost $29.6 billion in apparel revenue, and major retailers from Macy's to Best Buy are closing dozens of stores.

Making physical shopping more efficient is the key, said Chad Melis of Oskar Blues, which operates Longmont bike shop/taco joint/bar CyclHOPS. By offering more than one service, customers can accomplish multiple tasks at once and reduce their trips.

"You kill two birds with one stone — you come in and drop off your bike to get some work and you can have lunch."

"It takes a little creativity" from a business standpoint, he added, "but combining revenue streams makes the concept healthier financially."

Tacos and beer haven't necessarily boosted revenue for the bike shop: Melis sees it more as a marketing play for Oskar Blues' bike line REEB Cycles, a way to "show who we are and what we contribute to Longmont's culture."

The local trend is new enough that it's not clear if the effort is boosting sales, though Wiese says her cafe-adding clients in other states have seen a bump. But Full Cycle's Chandler is hopeful that when the brews start flowing, the cash will follow.

"You just test-rode an $8,000 mountain bike, you sit down and have a beer — you might talk yourself into buying it."

Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, castles@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/shayshinecastle

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