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STORE SPACES

First Look: New retail concept aims to be the holy ‘grail’ for sneaker fans

BY Marianne Wilson

Sneaker enthusiasts—regular fans and serious collectors—are the target audience of Grail, a new retail concept financially backed by footwear retailer DSW Inc.

Launched in Vancouver (British Columbia), Grail offers an immersive retail experience that celebrates sneaker culture, art and community. The 3,100-sq.-ft. store carries a vast assortment of men’s and women’s sneakers from such leading brands such as Nike, Adidas and Puma along with a selection of hard-to-find niche global brands — some of which are exclusive in North America to Grail. There is also a smattering of accessories and shoe-care products.

The store has a sleek, high-tech feel. A digital clock is displayed in a front window, showing the countdown to exclusive, limited-edition sneaker drops. The entryway features a state-of-the-art, high-res LED ceiling with surround sound, creating a theatre-like experience for entering shoppers.

The interior pairs minimalist and textured design elements with technology. Sneakers are displayed on perforated steel panels on the slatted cement board walls. Exposed conduits and caged LED tube lights mix with liquid crystal wall projections that switch from clear to opaque in a moment.

At this time, DSW has no plans to open a Grail store in the U.S., a spokesperson told Chain Store Age, “but we’re excited to take a read on the Vancouver store and learn more about this audience.”

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