Mandarin - a shoe store
Mandarin in Auckland’s High St differs from any other shop we have done in that it was designed and built as part of a television programme, which is similar to the “Changing Rooms” format. We took an existing – failing – shoe shop and transformed it in a short time frame using mainly sponsored materials. The main aim was to greatly lift the appeal of the shop to it’s target market and increase sales as a result. The existing shop is located under a public carpark and set back from the footpath. This resulted in limited visibility from High St. The shop was/is selling discounted shoes, produced in China, but bearing an Italian name, Marco Gianni. We persuaded the owners to let us re-brand the store to something less pretentious and more memorable. We collaborated with GSBI, a branding company, responsible for food branding such as Pams and Coles, who came up with the name Mandarin as a pun on the shoe’s origin. [More information…]
The name gave rise to the use of a strong Mandarin/orange colour along with gloss black lacquer Chinese furniture. White was also used throughout as a neutral background. The total fit-out duration, including demolition of the existing, homemade fitout was under two weeks. The budget was minimal. The TV Company paid for a builder’s time and basic materials (framing, MDF, GIB and stopping) while most other materials were sponsored. PSP provided orange Plexiglas sheets, with which were fabricated into glowing window displays and a central display table, as the key features to catch the eye of passers-by. A grey striped floor vinyl was chosen, as it is minimal without showing too many footprints. The builders built display “steps” to the sides, which were covered in black colour-backed glass graphic glass to approximate Chinese lacquer, but more quickly and with greater scratch resistance. We used a whole ceiling full of rice paper lanterns to “hide” the existing mess, while metal halide spotlights illuminate the products. Sign of the Times supplied the illuminated sign, using PLEXIGLAS® sheet painted black. The counter was made on site from MDF and covered in a ribbed vinyl, which also is used on the vertical surfaces of the display steps. The difference after two weeks is dramatic. Most customers do not realise it is the same shop and customer traffic has increased four-fold. Sadly the owners have not had the stock to capitalise on the shopper interest. Interest by potential buyers of the shop itself has been high and there is a chance that the business will be sold before the TV programme air in June. Perhaps it is a victim of it’s own success!
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