The following article, submitted to HP by Dwight Groom, vice president of retail at Groom Construction Company, answers some of the most important questions often asked about a modern-day approach to major retail construction.
1. What concerns are unique to a retail project in planning?
The biggest concern in planning a retail project is minimizing the effect on the store. Retailers know that their customers are easily influenced, and a poor shopping experience can steer them towards the competition. Being fully prepared on the front end will allow the least disruption. Timelines are always instrumental, so well-defined daily schedules are a major key to success.
2. What are your top concerns for a retail project under construction?
Maintaining the store “brand” and shopping experience while work is being performed is critical. Quite often, construction will occur during off-hours for open-store remodels. Not biting off more than you can chew for nightly scope will minimize effects to the customers, as well as store staff, during the day. As the contractor, you must think through the entire process and always have your Plan B ready. For example, if you open an electrical trench in the floor, you may have to fit cutting, conduit, rebar, inspection, and pour-back often into a 10-hour period. There are many moving pieces, and a lot can go wrong. Having a good plan each and every day will help maintain a safe and presentable shopping environment.
3. How is building for a retail giant different from a mom and pop operation?
While the major retailers are usually open to suggestions, they’ll typically outline their own procedures and schedules, having learned from trial and error. On the other hand, the mom and pop retailer will lean much more heavily on the contractor expertise to help define the construction process. As mentioned before, the retail giants make a living on selling their brand and consistency. They don’t want the customer experience to vary from store to store; therefore, every step of the construction process is based around maintaining the shopping experience their customers expect.
4. Is energy savings high priority for retail projects?
More and more retailers are beginning to build green. There is still a big push for LEED accreditation when commissioning new or renovated retail spaces. It attracts customers with its innovation, saves energy for the client, and is an investment in the environment and future. It can also offer companies significant rebates and tax credits in many instances. Certainly, some retailers put a heavier focus on energy efficiency than others, but it is typically on the radar of most of the larger ones.
5. What projects does Groom have currently in the ground for New England?
Groom is currently under construction and planning multiple remodels for TD Bank, Target, CVS, Best Buy, JC Penney, and several others. In fact, we have completed approximately 11 Targets and 14 TD Banks alone in the new England area so far this year. We are also currently working on several larger ground-up commercial projects in and around the Boston area.
6. What trends can we expect to see in the construction of our new stores?
Certainly, ease of maintenance while maintaining a consistent look is the hot trend. Polished concrete floors would be one example of this. Also, we are seeing more retailers deviate from their typical look, in order to add design and architectural features that connect with the local demographic. Many national giants are realizing that they can still maintain their brand and identity while tailoring the stores more towards the local shopper. Embracing this less prototypical approach is a trend that we’d expect to continue.