The Queen City Diaries:
The Initial Sketches

Welcome to the second in my series of blog posts spotlighting SRS’s latest project: the Queen City Audio Video Appliance store in Pineville, NC. In the introductory post, I described the first step we take when taking on any new merchandizing project: learning everything possible about the company brand and the physical store. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.

We spent countless hours researching the Queen City brand and inspecting the empty building that was soon to become the new Pineville location. But once that was done, it was time to move on to the next step in our “Concept to Completion” process: the initial sketches. This is where the ideas brewing in our minds come bubbling out and leap onto paper.

We prefer pencils and pads of paper during the initial sketch phase – no computers or other high-tech devices. There are a simple directness and tactile feel with pencil on paper that helps ideas flow. The sketches start rough and focus on the big picture. We will experiment with different design themes, shapes, traffic flows, sight lines, and product positioning. It literally can take hundreds of initial sketches before a vision finally takes shape to our satisfaction.

Once the big picture sketches have taken shape, we move on to all of the detail work. Designing display fixtures is one of the most challenging parts of this step. A thorough understanding of the difference between form and function is essential. This is where our 30+ years of retail experience pays off big time. We begin by focusing on the function of the display. And, of course, the number-one function of any retail display is to sell products. So in these initial sketches we design displays that are visible, accessible, easy-to-use, and durable.

The display must also reinforce the store’s brand image. A utilitarian display with a simple design is perfectly acceptable in stores that cater to low budget customers. We understand this perfectly and design displays of that type all the time. But many stores cater to a more upscale clientele. In these stores design plays a much more important role. We’ll sketch out displays that are beautiful and in keeping with the latest trends. That’s what many customers demand and feel comfortable with. And as all retailers know, making the customer comfortable is the essential first step in closing the sale.

When we’re on the right track with the initial sketches, it’s time to get work transferring the rough sketches to computers. Our suite of state-of-the-art CAD software brings those initial ideas to life. But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s the subject of the next “The Queen City Diaries” blog post. I hope you will join us as we continue down the road from “Concept to Completion.”

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