Desert Town Embraces Bristol Farms

Upscale California grocer Bristol Farms believes in creating singular shopping experiences that evoke the local area. Its Manhattan Beach store, for example, features murals depicting the coastal city in the 1930s, while its store in Mission Viejo evokes images of nearby Mission San Juan Capistrano. The decor of its newest location, in affluent Palm Desert, also captures the local color and includes accents of the early 1960s, when Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore and other celebrities called the desert resort area home.

“Each store has its own ambience,” said Craig Ogaz, director of operations development, Bristol Farms, Carson, Calif., a subsidiary of Supervalu, which operates 16 stores in California. “We always bring in some of the area’s history to the location in terms of the decor.”

But while decor and accent details differ based on location, the basics such as layout and merchandising remain the same, Ogaz added. Many departments are designed as stand-alone shops. The wine area, for example, with its wine racks and roof element, resembles a specialty wine boutique.

Additionally, the traffic flow is directed to maximize customer exposure to the full range of products. And food presentation is always paramount.

The new store offers a relaxed, inviting environment (DLEnglish Design served as the design firm). The color palette—natural, with muted browns and tans—reflects the desert environs. The walls feature large murals, from 30 ft. to upward of 50 ft. in length, of the local flora. The facade above the dairy box is based on several homes in the area that reflect the architecture and style of its heyday.

The floor tile and wall tile used throughout the space also are in keeping with the desert look.

“They are similar to what you would see in those homes in the early 1960s,” Ogaz added.

The store opened in January to enthusiastic crowds.

“It’s exceeding our projections,” Ogaz said.

It was a fast-track project. Bristol Farms brought on two partners that helped ensure the deadlines were met: Palladeo Construct, as the general contractor, and Palladeo Create, as the signage/fixture fabricator. The two divisions, part of Glendale, Calif.-based Palladeo, worked with the retailer on its three previous locations.

Project Resources

Design: DLEnglish Design, Long Beach, Calif. Architect: Courtney-Le Architects, Monrovia, Calif.General contractor: Palladeo Construct, Chino, Calif.Signage/graphics: Palladeo Create, Glendale, Calif.Fixtures: Palladeo Create, Glendale, Calif., and Supervalu mill, Payson, Utah

“We were brought on board in August, and started working immediately, even as the design was being finalized in mid-October,” said Mike Mustin, executive VP of Construct and Create. “Based on our prior work, Bristol Farms knew that we could take the concept to reality and get the store opened quickly.”

As for Ogaz, he found there were definite benefits in having two of the key project resources/suppliers within one company.

“One of the biggest is that if changes need to be made on the fly, things can happen a lot quicker,” he explained. “When you want to open a store on time, that’s always an advantage.”

The 35,189-sq.-ft. store was a second-use project, having previously housed a grocery store. But the remodel was comprehensive.

“We removed the front of the building and did a four-wall gut,” Mustin said. “So we started with a clean slate.”

All new surfaces and materials were installed. Porcelain tile was chosen for the flooring.

“It’s a fabulous choice,” Mustin added. “It’s easier to take care of and wears better than VCT.”

In addition to rebuilding the interior of the store, Construct put up a new facade, one more in tune with the motif of the center.

Working closely with the design firm, Create designed all of the decor items (including the entire sign package and many of the specialty fixtures) in addition to fabricating and installing them. The installation aspect was particularly challenging. Seismic and load calculations had to be considered due to the heavy weight of the items.

The signage is sleek, clean and easy to read. Fashioned in brushed brass over wood, it has a modern, straightforward look.

“We kept it as simple as possible to convey the message,” said Bristol Farms’ Ogaz.

The fixturing reflects the retailer’s signature attention to quality and detail. Furniture-quality fixtures finished in warm wood veneers enhance the floral and customer-service departments.

Along with the positive customer reaction, the Palm Desert store has won accolades inside the company, as well.

“Internally, it was 100% unanimous that this was the most complete store we had ever done,” Ogaz said. “And as a result, our merchandising and training preparation prior to the opening was the smoothest we’ve ever experienced.”

The two Palladeo divisions, which worked in partnership with the design firm, architect and owner’s representative, played a crucial role in the store’s development from concept to reality, according to Ogaz.

“We really weren’t in an expansion mode prior to 2006,” he said. “So it really helped to find a company that was willing to work with us in this fashion. Palladeo came through.”

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