Lesterâ€™s, a New York retail institution for 60 years, has opened a high-style outpost in Huntington, N.Y. Located on a former Tower Records site, the 15,000-sq.-ft. store is Lesterâ€™s largest to date. The design team transformed the building into a sleek, upscale fashion-emporium.
â€śThe space was clean and in good condition, but its dimensionsâ€”narrow in front and then about 250 ft. deep toward the rearâ€”made for an odd-shaped floor plan,â€ť said Doug Horst, president, Horst Design International (HDI), Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.
Family-owned and operated, Lesterâ€™s has long been a favorite of fashion-savvy shoppers, particularly moms in search of trend-setting threads for their kids. The service-oriented, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company operates five stores in the metro-New York area, including one outlet store, and one store in New Jersey. Best known for its childrensâ€™ and juniorsâ€™ offerings, it also stocks womenâ€™s and menâ€™s apparel (the latter is carried only in Brooklyn and Huntington) from a bevy of hot brands.
The designers used innovative architectural solutions and sophisticated details to successfully redo the space, giving it a very contemporary and fashionable feel that reflects the cutting-edge stylings of the merchandise on display.
â€śIt speaks to the next generation of Lesterâ€™s stores,â€ť Horst said, â€śand brings the store experience up to the next level.â€ť
The entrance opens onto a main drive aisle that runs from the front to the back of the store. With its variegated platinum-colored checkerboard-flooring pattern, the aisle easily guides customers as they access the space. It is highlighted with sculptured columns, visual features and a row of hanging white globe lights.
The deep, long store is segmented into individual departments, with customer-service/checkout counters in the front and rear. The streamlined counters are marked with a circular dropped ceiling.
â€śThe store opens with juniors on the right and contemporary womenâ€™s on the left,â€ť Horst said. â€śShoes and handbags, key departments for Lesterâ€™s in terms of their revenue per square foot, are past the womenâ€™s department. Boys and young menâ€™s follow. The childrenâ€™s world, which is more of a destination, is in the rear.â€ť
Curved walls that create open arches, backlit feature walls and other architectural features add interest throughout the store. Lesterâ€™s signature muted neutral palette serves as a backdrop to showcase the product lines. Signage is kept to a minimum.
â€śWe relied more on architecture and design than graphics to distinguish the space,â€ť Horst said.
Each department has its own motif and images, with distinctive flooring, lighting and wallcoverings that relate to the specific target customer. The juniors and young menâ€™s areas, for example, feature porcelain tile that replicates a weathered type of steel, while the contemporary womenâ€™s department has a porcelain tile that mimics wood planks. The childrenâ€™s department is carpeted.
â€śWe also used a lot more color in the childrenâ€™s department than elsewhere,â€ť Horst added.
A variety of wallcoverings are featured. A black-and-white Filigree Braid pattern gives a more sophisticated feel to the womenâ€™s department, while a more edgy grey covering with 3D fibrous photographic images is featured in juniors.
Custom merchandising systems, designed by HDI, further help define the various departments and add a decorative note. Some are made of steel and glass, with an aluminum satin finish for a fashionable high-tech look. Colored lacquer finishes give extra punch to the fixtures in the childrenâ€™s department.
The designers paid particular attention to the ceiling design, using the ceiling as a directional architectural element to help customers work their way around the store.
â€śThe ceiling is unique in that it incorporates many different elements,â€ť Horst explained. â€śWe used several different types of ceiling drops. Some are structural and made of Sheetrock, and others are made of fabric.â€ť
The ceiling incorporates a variety of lighting sources, but the general workhorse of the system is a high-output T5 fluorescent.
â€śItâ€™s extremely efficient, with a lot of lumens for the wattage,â€ť Horst said.
Halogen incandescent and halogen low-voltage lighting is used for accent and perimeter displays. The hanging white globe lights along the drive aisle provide some general illumination, but mainly serve as a visual draw and to help customers navigate the aisle.
â€śWe have a lot of backlit displays which add visual excitement to the store,â€ť Horst added, â€śand make it look a lot brighter.â€ť