Payless ShoeSource is marking its 50th anniversary by rebranding and repositioning itself. The Topeka, Kan.-based retailer, which pioneered selling shoes in a self-service environment, is now focused on “democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories to inspire fun fashion possibilities for the family,” says president and ceo Matt Rubel.
That evolution is a multi-pronged effort, including a new logo (a stylized “P” in a circle treatment to suggest dynamic movement and change); the launch of its first-ever designer footwear collection (Abaete for Payless by New York designer Laura Poretzky); and two new store designs – the fashion lab, a radical renovation of the entire store, and the smaller-scale renovation called hot zone, which features a new front-of-store layout.
The fashion lab is a collaboration between an in-house team at Payless that drew participants from virtually every company department and designers at Callison (Seattle). And it was a collaboration on a tight deadline. The concepts went from the drawing board to bricks-and-mortar reality in just under a year. The fashion lab stores made their debut this past summer in a half-dozen high-profile locales, including New York’s Fifth Avenue (Fifth Avenue at 38th Street).
Payless had occupied the New York site for several years under the Parade of Shoes nameplate, a small, regional Payless-owned chain that’s no longer in operation. In its previous incarnation, the 2000-square-foot store was saddled with an unsightly service elevator that effectively cut the space in two. As part of the remodel, that elevator was relocated. “We wanted to give passersby clear sightlines into the entire store,” notes Callison executive vp Paula Stafford.
The main thrust of the new format is to create a space that fits how women – the retailer’s primary target – shop for shoes for themselves and for their family. To that end, there’s a concerted effort to get merchandise out of the box and off the racks, and in full view.
“The idea is to let shoppers explore, experiment and more quickly find the footwear and accessories they desire,” says Rubel.
The women’s collection was given prominent placement at the front of the store and features large lab tables and other custom display fixtures. “Payless stores used to be canyons of racks,” notes Callison design director Ron Singler. “The fashion lab layout makes heavy use of lower fixtures and lots of horizontal surfaces to feature seasonal trends and product stories.”
For family-friendliness, the children’s section, complete with play area, is located at the back of the store. “That means moms can focus on shopping without worrying about their kids wandering out the front door,” Stafford explains.
Overall, the space features materials and colors that combine and contrast a warm, welcoming feel with the fashion lab’s clean, modern environment. White fixtures allow Payless’ signature orange color to visually pop, while wood accents and slate blue flooring provide a softer visual counterpoint.
Client: Payless ShoeSource, Topeka, Kan. - Matt Rubel, president and ceo
Design and Architect: Callison, Seattle - Paula Stafford, executive vp/principal; Cynthia Kato, project manager/director; Ron Singler, senior designer/director; Christian Jochman, designer/fellow; Jan Gaylord, interior designer/associate; Clayton Whitman, interior designer/associate; Denise Howitt, graphic designer/associate; Tom Rasnack, project manager/associate principal; Jason Morford, project architect/associate; Nicole Price, architect/associate; Ryan Luthman, architect/associate; Kelsey Blommer, architect/associate
Outside Design Consultants: Lighting Design Associates, Signal Hill, Calif. (lighting)
Consulting Engineers of Omaha, Omaha, Neb. (mechanical/electrical/plumbing)
Blue Sky Design Inc., New York, (lift-structural engineers)
Jeff Taylor Architects, White Plains, N.Y. (lift-architects)
General Contractor and Ceilings: Schimenti Construction Co., Mount Kisco, N.Y.
Audio/Visual: Muzak, Seattle
Fabrics: Valley Forge, Pompano Beach, Fla.
Fixtures/Visual Merchandising Display Elements, Furniture: Design Fabricators (a Leggett and Platt company), Thornton, Colo.
Fixture Finishes: Formica, Cincinnati; DuPont, Wilmington, Del.
Flooring: Abet Inc., Englewood, N.J.; Atlas Carpet, Los Angeles; CS Group, Lebanon, N.J.
Interior Graphics: Payless ShoeSource, Topeka, Kan.
Lighting: Villa Lighting, St. Louis
Mobile Shelving: Pipp Mobile Storage Systems Inc., Walker, Mich.
Paint: Sherwin Williams, Cleveland
Signage: Desgrippes Gobe Group, New York; Callison, Seattle; Federal Heath Signs, Euless, Texas
Storefront Display/Window-Lighted Graphic Image Display: Duratrans, Spring Lake, Mich.
Photography: Chris Eden, Callison, Seattle