The new stores will be as big as a typical Home Depot big box, but will look decidedly different from that point. Gone will be the warehouse look with pallet racks stocking products high above the shopper’s head. While we couldn’t obtain images before press time, press reports suggest the Design Centers will mimic grocery stores or other mass merchants with considerably lower sight lines for products.
The new stores won’t even feature the well-know bright orange color of the big boxes. Instead, the stores will use a deeper shade of orange, as well as incorporate earth tones and neutral colors.
Bath and kitchen showrooms will be front and center and carry even more products than the regular Home Depot outlets. The retailer also plans to expand an upscale furniture showroom it tested earlier as a store-within-a-store concept in Chicago. A garden center will also feature outdoor furniture and garden paraphernalia rather than bags of dirt and grass seed.
The new Design Center format is the chain’s latest attempt to focus on its core retail business.
The company has been busy trying other formats lately that are considerably different than the traditional big box stores. Last April, for example, the Home Depot opened five stores in the San Francisco Bay area that are half the size of its typical stores. As with the Design Centers, the smaller urban stores focus more on kitchen and bath products, as well as appliances and flooring.
While much of the action has happened this year as new executives pull Home Depot away from past nonretail strategies, the company has tried to tweak its retail outlets before.
In fact, the new Design Center could be seen as a cross between a regular store and its old Expo stores, a standalone chain that the retailer started in the 1990s to attract women shopping for home improvement products and services. Many Expo stores, however, have since been closed or turned into regular Home Depot outlets.
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