Natural Foods Merchandiser

Store of the Future: Eastern wisdom meets Western design practices

Eastern wisdom will connect with Western retail practices this year at Natural Products Expo West?s exhibit ?East Meets West—A Retail Philosophy?. Retailers will learn how to bring fresh energy and good flow into their own stores by using the traditional themes of feng shui in natural products stores.

Feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of bringing harmony to an environment by establishing a healthy flow of chi, or universal energy, by arranging your surroundings to achieve certain goals. In the store of the future, ?it?s about creating a better work space and incorporating nature into the store,? says Jim Dygas, founding partner at Creative Commune, the exhibits designer.

?Though the Eastern philosophy is based more on spiritual energy, this is going to be grounded in common sense,? says Dygas, who explains that most of the feng shui ideas go hand-in-hand with good design and proper store planning in a retail environment. For example, good design principles show how to arrange a living or working space to better suit what is needed of it and maximize pleasure and efficiency. The result of using feng shui and the Western concept of good design principles should be higher sales, improved traffic, happier clients, better staff productivity and increased employee loyalty, according to Creative Commune.

The exhibit will incorporate the different elements of feng shui—wood, fire, metal, earth and water—in a modern retail environment. For example, Dygas says traditional feng shui could lead a retailer to position an element of moving water near a doorway to attract consumers and direct them inside the store. Dygas says this fits well with the Western idea of placing fountains and waterfalls inside malls. Water is also a calming element to the shopping experience.

The exhibit will also emphasize the effects of color and light on the feel of an environment and will show retailers how to direct atmosphere and energy flow in their store. ?Retailers ultimately are after sales. But they don?t realize it?s not just the product in their store that affects sales,? says Dygas. ?It?s what?s around it.?

Dygas says most feng shui books and resources focus on home and office spaces. ?But it translates into retail, too,? he says. Expo Sales Coordinator Amy Dageenakis says many architects are consulting with feng shui experts. Dygas says many of the principles of feng shui are applied in how a building is directionally situated and constructed. But the exhibit will apply these principles in a way that will apply to merchants looking for new retail space and to retailers looking to freshen up an existing store. ?What?s important is trying things that you can easily add to your store,? says Dageenakis.

?[This idea] tries to increase energy in the stores. It?s about creating a more harmonious store. We?re hoping it?s an entertaining and educational experience,? says Dygas.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 2/p. 12

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