Retail Traffic

SADI 2011 – ICE - International Currency Exchange Credits

Currency exchanges aren’t exactly the kind of retailer that gets your blood racing. There are no chic fashion items, no cool tech toys and no hot deals. It’s typically a place you’re in and out of without thinking twice about the space itself.

That is precisely what makes GHA design studios’ design for an International Currency Exchange location in Alberta, Canada so noteworthy and is why it took home the top prize in the small store category.

At first glance you would be excused if you thought you were looking at a store that sold cell phones or high-tech gadgetry. But it really is simply a place to turn dollars into pounds, euros or other currencies.

The International Currency Exchange has branched from its common airport locations into the retail market. As a result, the entity wanted a design of an in-line boutique in order to create a dynamic experience for customers while creating a space that is attractive to landlords. In order to be as visually compelling as its fashion neighbors and to secure prime retail locations, the design of the in-line boutique focused on creating a dynamic experience by challenging conventions of what one would expect from a currency exchange.

The concept is meant to be bold and elicit curiosity from passersby. ICE wanted to convey to their customers, loyal and new, that they are not just a financial institution offering FX services, but more of a one-on-one customer friendly FX service provider. And the intention is for the in-store experience to break down the impersonal barrier between customers and staff and to make clients feel more relaxed and comfortable.

On a big picture level, the major challenge was how to create a concept for a financial service provider that had “cool” appeal, yet still had to be taken seriously to reassure customers they are dealing with a stable and trustworthy institution.

At a design and security level, the entrance opening was maximized to give an air of accessibility, which challenges conventional security protocol in this type of financial outlet due to the end-to-end openness of the store. However the desire to have an inviting one-on-one service interaction experience with customers overrode the decision to have blatant security measures in place, and consequently, less invasive security measures were used that are imperceptible to the customer.

At $325 per foot, build-out of the space was not cheap. But the budget went toward the space’s high quality finishes and materials. The store was specifically designed to intrigue passersby from the mall corridor into the space, and curiosity from unsuspecting visitors who enter the store for enquiries is beyond expectations. The futuristic design aesthetic and dynamic wall graphics are key elements in piquing that curiosity. The evolution of the brand from kiosk type of installations in airports has raised the customer experience to a new level which the customer has responded to very positively and the owner is looking to open additional locations in similar type of retail center.

Project Name
International Currency Exchange (ICE)

Alberta, Canada

Square Footage

GHA design studios

ICE Currency Services Canada

MEP Engineer
Dallaire Consultants

General Contractor
Canadian Retail Builders

Millwork and Fixtures
Trial Design

Lighting Supplier

Exterior Sign & LED
Canadian Retail Builders

Canadian Retail Builders

Canadian Retail Builders

Graphic Wall Covering
PCL Graphics

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