The Shopping Networker
August 15, 2008 3 Comments
I’m a networker. And, I occasionally go food shopping, although that responsibility generally falls upon my longsuffering wife. As a member of the blogging community who has been in his share of stores, I’ve never written about a shopping experience at Shop-Rite. Or A&P. Or Kings. Or Kroger. Or Stop and Save. In fact, the only food store I’ve written about (until now) was Stew Leonard’s, because it was a memorable experience created through a remarkable environment.
This week, I met someone at a Wegman’s in central Jersey. I was early, but I didn’t mind, because I found myself wandering around, figuring out why I had such positive feelings about being in this store. Someone had very carefully designed an environment that made me WANT to be there. What was it?
First of all, the store design managed to pull off a sense of both airiness and intimacy. The ceiling was high, but was painted an interesting rust/brown hue. Suspended from it, however, was an attractive gridwork of black metal, on which was carefully mounted a lighting scheme that brought the ceiling down while still leaving it open. The various lights employed nicely highlighted the shelves. It was quite brilliant in design, actually.
The floor pattern was not plain, but had a multi-hued, almost stone-looking pattern. Combined with the faux (but attractive) windows and siding that were mounted along the walls, the effect was that you were strolling in an Italian courtyard. You didn’t feel trapped in an impersonal box; instead, they managed to capture the feeling of small shops in a more intimate setting.
The layout was straightforward, but not sterile – pleasant signage mixed with easy-on-the-eyes displays. The cafe section (where I met my client) was set up upstairs, so you could grab some coffee at the coffee bar and just sit and relax at quiet little tables. The aisle widths and patterns varied somewhat, so that the usual institutional feel was absent.
I’ve been to exactly one Wegman’s – this one. Are they all this remarkable? I don’t know, but the store philosphy seems strong, and someone clearly wanted to create an atmosphere that was three cuts above your average food store. When I go to most stores, I just want to get in, get it done, and get out. At Wegman’s, I wanted to linger. That is remarkable.