Merchandising Insight: Activation of space enlivens product

What happens when you take colorful street footwear, a pair of store owners who are architects, a talented young designer, and then marry them? You get Installations -- a unique store that breaks the boundaries on footwear merchandising. SNEWS takes you on an insider tour.

What happens when you take colorful street footwear, a pair of store owners who are architects, a talented young designer, and then marry them? You get Installations (, a unique store that breaks the boundaries on footwear merchandising. No humdrum slot-wall display or endless face-outs of footwear here!

Installation’s location on Broadway in busy downtown Boulder, Colo., is approximately 6 years old, but it has an older sibling, Boulder's Satellite, which is descrbied as a skate shop on steroids by co-owner Raul Pinto.

Pinto explained the idea for Installation came from architectural projects at school where students had to take over an ordinary area and attract attention to it. A new installation is undertaken at the Boulder store every year.

The current installation was pulled together primarily by Pinto and designer Rich Duff (photo, below), who had interned with Pinto the year before. After lots of phone calls, e-mailing of conceptual ideas and pictures, a design with the primary goal of making the shoes more active members of the store design became reality. Together with co-owner JG Mazzotta an installation was created that not only invites customer exploration, but also requires no recovery after the customer interaction.

Materials used in this installation includes sisal rope (which is 100 percent biodegradable) that hangs from a rigging of 2x4s and is suspended from the ceiling. The airy feel of the rope is contrasted by monolithic furniture that helps to ground the spaces and highlight the light feeling of the rope. The furniture was made from giant LVLs (laminated veneer lumber or plywood that is very thick) and all materials came from a local recycler, Resource. The furniture was then lacquered and buffed with local beeswax -- so local it came from Pinto’s next door neighbor. 

The primary focus for each installation is creativity. Pinto said that while the installations are labor-intensive, they are not overly expensive and typically run from $1,500 to no more than $5,000 to redo completely an entire store. Installations are built off-site with the last installation taking approximately three weeks to build. They are then generally installed in two phases.

Pinto said he not only thinks way outside the box, but also said he wants to share his creativity with other retailers ready to grab attention in a big way.

“Installation was not created just to sell shoes, but is about the activation of space. The product could really be anything,” Pinto said.

To watch a short video of this installation being built:

Want more? Check out these videos of past installations:

Robin Enright is the founder of Merchandising Matters which provides visual merchandising and marketing support to the outdoor retail industry.


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