Shared Sensibility

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From the welcoming sign on the fitting rooms to the patterned carpet to the shaded light fixtures, details matter at Christopher & Banks’ first-ever dual-concept location. The store, at Shoppes at Montage, Moosic, Pa., brings merchandise from the company’s namesake brand as well as its plus-sized division, C.J. Banks, under one roof.

“The idea came from our customers, who told us they wanted to shop together regardless of their individual size,” said Lorna Nagler, president and CEO, Christopher Banks Corp., Minneapolis, which operates 812 stores nationwide.

The two brands are housed on opposite sides of the same store and share a back room, cashwrap and fitting-room area. A pass-through — an architectural frame that is bumped out about half way back and is subtly signed — provides a seamless transition between the Christopher & Banks area and C.J. Banks.

“The brands share the same sensibility, so they are not differentiated by design,” said Brian Shafley, president and chief creative director, Chute Gerdeman Retail, Columbus, Ohio. “But to create some sense of uniqueness for the brands at the storefront, there are two front entrances.”

The new format is warm and welcoming. The strong residential feel is accented with artful flourishes.

“We wanted the store to be a reflection of the apparel itself, which mixes conservative basics with colorful sweaters,” Shafley said. “And just as they do with their merchandise, we paid special attention to the details, in everything from the hardware cabinetry to the glass knobs in the fitting rooms. The customer notices these types of things.”

The store design also mirrors the strong hometown values of the retailer’s customer base. Dark wood finishes, furniture-inspired displays, shaded light fixtures, warm fabrics and artful merchandising displays enhance the overall environment and give the space a stylish, feminine feel.

“We tried to walk the line between being current and classic,” Shafley explained. “And we wanted the store to feel familiar and aspirational at the same time.”

Customer service is paramount to Christopher & Banks, and the new format creates a sense of amenities for customers that were beyond what a typical store would offer. The fitting rooms, for example, are all individually designed, with different wall finishes and colors. There is also a comfortable seating area where the customer can show off to friends and family what they are trying on.

Adjacent to the fitting room area is a desk with a computer for customers who want to order from the company’s online offerings.

“It’s not a kiosk. Instead, it looks very similar to what the customer might have at home,” Shafley added.

The cashwrap/customer service desk is both inviting and sophisticated. Table top lamps soften the space. A branded backdrop displays the store’s tagline: “Celebrating women of all sizes.”

Armoire-styled wall fixtures organize the merchandise and add visual interest. The back of the armoires and the fitting room areas are accentuated with a rich-looking wallpaper. Curved floor fixtures throughout the store help guide customers throughout the space. Accessories are displayed on stylish white tables. A central focal features mannequins that showcase coordinated looks from the current collections of both Christopher & Banks and C.J. Banks.

“We needed to get a fair amount of capacity in the space,” Shafley added. “We also wanted to create merchandise stories and do collections, which is why we brought in the armoire units, which are built into the wall.”

The graphics have a friendly, conversational tone that is in keeping with the overall mood of the store.

“It’s a very inviting and warm space,” Shafley said.

To see more photos of the store, click here.

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