Michaels Crafts Next-Gen Prototype


When customers affirm that they come to your stores to be inspired, perhaps it might be time to feed off that creativity with a well-thought-out retail environment. Such is the case for Irving, Texas-based Michaels Stores, which set out to build its customers the creativity-inspired store of their dreams.

After conducting extensive consumer research in the latter part of 2007, the Michaels team discovered that their customers wanted something very different from their store experience, says Stuart Aitken, Michaels’ chief marketing officer. “[The customer] loves our store, but felt there was opportunity to inspire her creativity more,” Aitken says. “She loves our selection, but felt there was opportunity to improve the organization and communication in a way that helped her navigate our store more easily.”

Keeping these issues and opportunities in mind, Michaels partnered with Dayton, Ohio-based Interbrand Design Forum to work on a new prototype that would debut in Hurst, Texas, with another store following shortly in West Chester, Ohio (pictured).

Opened in late 2008, the 23,000-sq.-ft. West Chester store (18,500 sq. ft. of selling space) has a clean, open layout, with contemporary colors, wider aisles and a crafty aesthetic that entices exploration. The company’s new ribbon-swirled logo and tagline—“Where Creativity Happens”—welcome customers with a canopy focal point and seasonal display at the entrance. Top-shelf stock—a prevalent storage method in previous Michaels stores—was eliminated to create open sight lines in the space. “We started from ground zero, reviewing everything from the box itself to what we put inside it,” says Walt Asbury, Michaels’ vice president of space planning. The new design has now been rolled out to 34 stores, with plans for more in 2009.

Working with the designers, Michaels identified product categories in the store that are most popular with its customers—Jewelry, Scrapbooking, Kids, Art Supplies and Custom Framing—and built destination shops for each that would “wow” the customer from the moment she walks in, Asbury explains.

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