Many jobs offer projects that are routine and consistent… some jobs offer projects that push boundaries, opening a window to fresh thought. I’ve been fortunate to have a balance, experiencing both in my job at Brown Shoe Company. This is the story of one of the latter projects: the Famous Footwear store on the Las Vegas strip.
The story starts in October, 2011 – our Real Estate Team found an intriguing location on Las Vegas Blvd., right on “the strip”. The space featured a long list of positive characteristics including generous square footage, high visibility, constant foot traffic, international and domestic family tourism, surrounding retail AND our neighbor would be the Hard Rock with the famous GIANT GUITAR on the building. When afforded a stack of positives like that, it’s a safe bet that there will be at least one challenge.
Our challenge? While the interior offers a massive floor plan, the storefront measures a minuscule 16’ wide. The smallest stores in the chain are 30’ wide, so this is quite a reduction in frontage. Because of this, the project was tabled.
Fast forward to Summer 2013. The design team brought on some new talent. And Neil Graham, along with Steve Marston, our Store Planning Team, led by Tony Dallessandro, and our Construction Team, led by John Shawgo, all revisited the Vegas challenge, well positioned to handle resuscitating the project.
Under the leadership of Paul Schroeder and Peter Kelly we worked to define the experience of the entire store. In this fast-moving progression, every corner, every column, and every sign holder was accounted for. We integrated features like a central try-on area, large touch-screens, iPads, backlit end caps, large-format graphics and a custom cash wrap. As we added features, budgets were carefully monitored. Presentations went smooth and approvals came fairly easily, as they do with a collaborative leadership group.
A pretty intensive back-and-forth between the design vision, including what could be approved and what could actually be built, ensued. Looking back, this was the fun part – the part where ideas explode and evolve. Surprises pop up, and solutions (usually) improve the store. In the moment, the process can seem pretty grueling. But when the finished product turns out well, hindsight makes you nostalgic for the entire process, including the challenging part.
When the design process ends, construction has to take the vision and execute. This is where John Shawgo and Jamie Baird took the reigns and started hitting nails with hammers. These guys bring a pile of experience to the table, but the custom design elements required close collaboration. Jamie and John worked their magic under tight schedules to install custom elements and really bring the vision to life. Without this partnership, the design risks falling short of the vision. With partnership, the finished product feels better than the vision.
I can look at almost every part of this store, remember the meetings that shaped the design and feel proud of the decisions we made. When the inspiring projects pop up, the best we can hope for is a finished product like this. Feedback from co-workers, stores and most importantly customers has been overwhelmingly positive. So check out the pictures – better yet, head to Vegas and see for yourself!
And if you do, drop me a line if you have any feedback or questions. I’d love to hear from you!
Director, Creative Customer Experience