Hunting for shoes at gander mountain, a specialty retailer of hunting, fishing and camping goods, used to be a bewildering, even frustrating, experience. The footwear department was set up to accommodate self-service and full-service, confusing both shoppers and Gander staff, while product was stored in multiple locations throughout the store.
"They had everything out on the floor for customers to see but only some products were at consumers' disposal while the rest were in the back room (which only staff could access)," says Tom Van Hercke, president and chief creative officer of nParallel, the Minneapolis-based firm charged with creating a remerchandising program for Gander. "There was no rhyme or reason to it. So we created a choreography that took the consumer through the natural process of buying shoes."
This process begins at the power wall, where shoes were recategorized by type of use, such as hiking, casual and hunting, on an existing slatwall display. Bulk stacks in adjacent aisles and endcap displays use the same graphics and fixture treatment, so there's no disconnect between seeing a product on the wall and finding it in the aisles.
A new materials palette complements the existing store environment, but also sets a new standard. Raw metals were updated with a clearcoat finish, while raw pine was sandblasted to raise the grain and a stain was added.
"It takes it a step higher and makes it a little classier," says Van Hercke.
Freestanding power corner units hold brand features, category spotlights or closeout/promotional goods, as well as cross-merchandised items. And all the fixtures are on casters, so the department can be reconfigured according to a season's needs, as well as accommodate the growing number of SKUs in the footwear area.
The result, says Van Hercke, is that Gander Mountain has increased footwear sales by 500 percent and reduced its departmental costs by 25 percent. "And they've got happier consumers and employees who understand how the department works," he says.
Client: Gander Mountain Co., St. Paul, Minn.
Design: nParallel, Minneapolis
Tom Van Hercke, president and chief creative officer
Megan Diamond, executive vp, brand strategy
Shawn King, creative director
Fixtures and Signage/Graphics: nParallel, Minneapolis
Photography: Jamie Padgett, Chicago