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RETAIL DESIGN TRENDS: A cereal sensation

The Trix rabbit, the Cocoa Puffs bird and the Cheerios bumble bee — what do all of these General Mills cereal characters have in common? They all share the spotlight in the Cereal Adventure Store at Mall of America. Located within the General Mills interactive Cereal Adventure park, the retail shop plays a vital role at the family entertainment destination through the sale of branded merchandise and gifts. Geared toward children ages 2-12 and their families, the shop offers everything from playbooks, toys and toddler breakfast ware to dolls, balls and school supplies. The items are organized by cereal brand names and their respective characters.

“This is a one-of-a-kind destination,” says Mark Whitenack of Minneapolis-based design and architectural firm Shea, who worked as one of the lead designers. Whitenack worked in collaboration with the firm's New York office to bring this fantasy concept to life. “Since 1998, we have worked with General Mills to create the strategic plan and brand for the site,” he explains. “This included providing the visual merchandising plan for the retail store.”

Though the entire site's GLA is nearly 15,000 sq. ft., the retail component encompasses only 2,000 sq. ft. The greatest design challenge was achieving a highly dynamic, attention-getting environment in a fairly tight space, says Whitenack. The solution: creative space planning. “Products are very organized. We made use of all space including shelves and fixtures on all the walls,” he says. Flexible fixture systems are integrated throughout the space to allow for a lot of product in a small space.

“The design concept for the store is to look like that of a kitchen — warm and inviting — but also to reinforce the General Mills brand and equity characters, thereby emphasizing color and fun,” says Whitenack. For instance, special lighting fixtures were designed using colorful glass cereal bowls.

When you think about a grocer's cereal aisle, what comes to mind? Bright colors and lots of activity. “An almost overwhelming array of colors were used based on the vivid palettes of the many General Mills brand cereals,” says Whitenack. “However, these colors were carefully balanced and placed to complement the interior architectural forms of the site.”

The entire park uses a myriad of building materials. The structure's framework and individual pavilions are made of gypsum board and metal stud walls. Metal, glass and plastic laminate were also used throughout the space. The flooring products include sheet vinyl, VCT, linoleum, concrete topping, Astroturf, stained and etched concrete, wood and rubber.

The retail shop is the focal point for the entire adventure attraction. It functions as a merchandising opportunity for General Mills and as a self-contained advertisement for the company's cereal brands. The store also serves as the exit to the site. This gives General Mills the opportunity to say “thanks for visiting” and to leave its product line fresh in customers' minds — and hopefully in their shopping bags.

Contact: Tanya Spaulding, VP, Shea, 612.339.2257 or (F) 612.349.2930.

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