In late 2009 MSS was contacted by the owners of Grand Foods in Winnetka, Illinois. The collective goal of the partners; Dan Klebba, Chris Barber and Kevin Salus was to breathe new life into their store. They found that their sales were eroding as a result of several new high end grocery stores being built within a developing commercial corridor within driving distance from their community. They felt their close ties to the community and the proximity of their store to where people lived were their strengths. They asked us to evaluate their situation and make recommendations. This wasn't their first call to MSS. Over the years, we had been involved in numerous projects in their two stores.
Early on we recognized that the biggest challenge would be to gain approvals to go ahead with the project. The store is located within the heart of the village of Winnetka. Winnetka is an affluent Chicago suburb with a very traditional downtown environment. The store itself is bordered by million dollar homes. It is within an older multi-tenant property with no real room for expansion. Multiple design studies were considered. Several alternatives for small additions were proposed. Each had their own set of pros and cons. In the end, a decision was made to pursue a direction that would prove to be the most difficult to pass, but would also be the most visible and potentially yield the highest return.
The store, which was only 16,000 square feet, was landlocked in front by Green Bay Road which cuts across the property on an angle. This angle of the state road formed a small triangular green space in front of the building. Unfortunately this was the only green space on the property. The space was very nice and very visible. There was a lush abundance of flowers and plantings, and a very significant old tree.
The owners wanted to position themselves as a high end perishables market. Produce, floral, wine and spirits, and value-added foods were their calling cards. It was our job to display their wares in an appropriate setting. We proposed to add an addition of just under 5000 square feet to the front of the building. Ideally we wanted to have a visible change from the street. We wanted customers and street traffic to see the significant changes being made. The eastern and southern exposures would also allow for natural light and views from outside we knew would be appealing. This type of addition would help to create an openness within the space that would help to make the whole store feel larger. We felt this was of critical importance.
The challenge of the approval process with the village was arduous. In the end it was worth it. Grand Foods is no longer a dated, cramped facility. When you walk in you experience an open, pleasantly lit space that encourages shopping and exploring.
Produce as a category has more than 200 new line items. Between its prominent setting, the attractive materials used throughout, the ambient lighting, the evident quality of the products and the expanse of choices this department does not disappoint. As you go deeper into the open market space, you encounter a floral department that rivals specialty shops. The subtle look of the store makes the products themselves that much more effective. The visual experience within the space is very pleasant.
A benefit of the angled front wall is how it funnels you into your next experience. As you turn the corner you see the new salad bar. The prominence of this function and it's proximity to the front end have paid dividends. Next is their relocated liquor department. One by one the visibility of each of the departments whether it was actually moved or just made more visible is dramatic.
The most rewarding aspect of any project is when it achieves the desired results. Grand Foods has definitely seen results. Their overall sales are up 25%. Several departments have maintained increases that are closer to 50%.
In the end, a difficult choice was the right one. People no longer have a need to drive to an outlying store. We're happy to have helped make "The Grand" even more so.