Retail Traffic

Conceptual Thinking

By 2006, the stores in the ShopKo retail chain were showing their age — and their wrinkles. The red, white and blue color scheme looked outdated. Interiors and exteriors drooped under a dull, cold, clinical feel. The masculine appearance failed to fit Shopko's core customer: mothers ages 35 to 45.

Two years ago, ShopKo Stores Inc. tapped Columbus, Ohio-based branding and design firm Chute Gerdeman to give a face-lift to the $2.2 billion retailer's more than 130 stores. So far, 13 stores have adopted the softer, friendlier format. Jane VanAuken, vice president of store planning and design at privately held ShopKo, estimates the conversion will last eight more years. VanAuken declines to divulge the price tag for the makeover.

The revamped look includes a new logo, a new slogan (“My life. My style. My store.”), a new color palette and new configurations.

Each department sports a different main color — blue for boys' clothing, pink for girls' clothing, yellow for infants' clothing — yet all the hues are meant to be warm and harmonious. “The color was a huge part of the concept,” says Brian Shafley, president and creative director at Chute Gerdeman.

Hardlines are placed around the perimeter of a remodeled store. At the center is the jewelry department. The overall design features a residential theme. Many sections are complemented by area rugs and large overhead lamp shades. Placed throughout every overhauled store are armoire fixtures, picture rails, crown molding, white woodwork and other home-style accents.

ShopKo's stores range in size from 60,000 to 120,000 square feet. The Green Bay, Wisc.-based retailer competes with Kmart, Target and Wal-Mart in 13 states in the Midwest, Rocky Mountain region and Pacific Northwest. At the 13 stores updated in 2007 and 2008, sales are a couple of percentage points higher than the companywide average, VanAuken says.

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