Creating the Wow Factor

Signage and graphic elements contribute to the colorful, eye-catching look at WOW!.

Unique graphics and signage are among the defining elements of the WOW! convenience store, in Fraser, Mich., which owns about 40 c-stores under various banners. It is the newest prototype for Atlas Oil Co., Taylor, Mich. The updated environment highlights the chain’s expanded product offerings and new emphasis on freshness.

“It was a ground-up site, so the owner saw it as the opportunity to create an entirely new prototype,” said Tony Camilletti, VP strategic design, Design Fabrications (D|Fab), Madison Heights, Mich., the designer and fabricator of all interior decor and branding for the prototype. “There are a lot of firsts in the store and outside at the pump, with the introduction of a new, corn-based ethanol fuel.”

The 3,000-sq.-ft. store has a contemporary feel, with hints of the Southwest. The desert motif influenced the color palette–a mix of sun-baked hues of red, yellow and orange with graphic accents of sage green and sky blue. Custom-illustrated line art on the wallcovering adds interest to wall surfaces.

D|Fab developed a custom sunflower icon for WOW! that is interpreted throughout the interior on wayfinding signage and wall stencils. “The logo was stenciled on the wall by a local painter,” Camilletti added.

The design team took advantage of an unusual layout—there are two entrances to the store, on opposite sides—in creating some of the signage. The most impactful element is a zigzag sign above the cooler/freezer wall that has two unique looks from opposite points of the store.

“It is a series of single-sided graphic panels arranged in a sawtooth configuration,” Camilletti said. “Each panel is independently suspended. The panels are configured in such a way that when you look at it from one approach, you see one message, and when you look at from the other, you see a different one. It’s a simple technique, but effective in terms of impact.”

Small category signs are suspended from the graphic panels. “

“The category signs can be easily changed as they are independent of the panels. This allows the store flexibility in rotating merchandise inside the cooler cases,” Camilletti explained.

The other signage featured in the space is equally flexible. A horizontal metal rail is attached to a digitally printed, vinyl-covered wall in the area over the dairy case. Three sunflower-shaped signs, made out of yellow-neon Plexiglas, are bracketed onto the rail. A graphic is attached to each sunflower.

“Those signs can also be easily changed,” Camilletti added.

The checkout and fountain drink areas are defined by brushed, metallic-finished suspended baffles onto which vinyl letters have been applied. The signs are made of CoreLite, a structural, lightweight material proprietary to D|Fab.

“It’s a great material that can be curved in any shape,” Camilletti explained. “It’s very durable.”

Atlas Oil intends to roll out the new prototype design. It is already being adapted for two locations in suburban Phoenix, and two additional Detroit-area sites.

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