A series of floor installation projects custom-designed for a retail store chain has applicators throwing confetti.
At a Justice, Just for Girls retail store under construction in Charlotte, N.C., Jason Burke and his small crew toss colored confetti as high in the air as the store’s high ceiling will allow. The confetti — 1/4-inch acrylic latex chips — lands in random patterns on the still-wet coated concrete floor.
“The higher the ceiling the better,” says Jeff Sledge, project manager at Management Resource Systems, the High Point, N.C., general contractor that is building the Charlotte store. “They’ll throw it as high as they can to increase the randomness of the way it falls.”
By the time Burke and his crew from Columbus, Ohio-based CPI Industrial Co. check out of their motel at the end of the week, the hard, glossy finish looks festive and welcoming — but it will also be easy to maintain. Store managers will love that.
The concept of fun, as it relates to preteen girls, is critical to the development of the growing Justice chain. According to the corporate profile of Tween Brands Inc., parent company of Justice, the stores sell moderately priced sportswear for “tween” girls aged 7 to 14, plus accessories, intimate apparel, jewelry and lifestyle items. “Justice celebrates tween girls through an extraordinary experience of fashion and fun in an ‘everything for her’ destination,” states the profile.
As Debbie Rowe, design manager in store planning for Justice at Tween Brands, describes the floor’s color scheme, a cream base with color chips of orange, green, white and two different blues, “fun” seems to be the operative word.
And that’s before she mentions the iridescent glitter and star-shaped sequins in the PPG MegaSeal SL (Self-Leveling) Crystal Clear, one of four types of PPG MegaSeal epoxy used in the Charlotte store and new Justice stores across the country.
It took three months of trial and error and many flooring samples before PPG Industries and Tween Brands came up with a concept for a unique and attention-grabbing floor prototype. It had to be as cost-efficient as it was striking.
“When we were developing the concept, we knew that carpet wouldn’t hold up too well in strip centers,” Rowe explains. “And tile didn’t look fun and different.”
The visual hook is the eight-foot wide, bright blue drive aisle that delivers foot traffic from the front entrance to the customer service counter.
PPG worked with Tween Brands and CPI president Charlie Flanagan to formulate a coating system that would meet the retailer’s design needs.
The system they created is installed by CPI workers on a new concrete floor in a sprawling mixed-use Charlotte development called Blakeney Town Center. Monday is a relatively easy first day. Foreman Jason Burke and his crew of two shotblast and thoroughly grind the floor before applying a coat of moisture remediation sealer. Justice shares a stand-alone building with two other retail spaces, but at the time the work is being completed, only one is occupied. With no immediate neighbors, noise or dust isn’t a concern.
Later in the week, they spread PPG’s MegaSeal 100-percent solids epoxy floor primer. That’s followed by either a cream-colored 16-mil coat of MegaSeal SL Epoxy for the bulk of the floor or a bright blue coat of the same product for the drive aisle. These colors — dubbed Delicate White and Justice Blue — were developed by PPG specifically for Justice stores.
Then it’s time to spread a whole rainbow’s worth of those vinyl color chips, manufactured for PPG and Justice by Torginol Inc.
The Delicate White is spread and flaked first. While the epoxy’s still wet, Burke and his men don spikes that have been duct-taped to their shoes, a simple invention for making minimal contact with the wet floor while they let the confetti flakes fly. It takes a good eye to know how to evenly toss color. You don’t want to see either clumps or bare patches.
After the floor dries overnight, Burke’s team has to scrape and clean off its mistakes, including flakes that land on edge or stick above the base colors. “It’s like an ice skating rink when they’re done,” says Sledge. “It’s such a flat surface and high-gloss sheen that anything sticks out.”
They then apply the Justice Blue, throw the flakes into this coat, and scrape and vacuum it.
Finally, the crew applies a topcoat of MegaSeal SL Crystal Clear Epoxy spiked with cupfuls of shimmering sequins and glitter — about 7 cups worth for every five gallons of topcoat.
Unlike the colored coats, Crystal Clear is a standard version of MegaSeal. PPG recommends it for decorative concrete over another variation, MegaSeal Clear, because Crystal’s proprietary resin package helps it hold up particularly well over time.
The roughly 3,500-square-foot Charlotte location is among the newest of the 300 stores in the Justice chain, which sprang to life in 2004.
CPI is a major contractor for the project, having installed floors for 100 to 150 of Tween Brands’ Justice locations across the country. Jeff Sledge of Management Resource Systems has used CPI Industrial on all of his Justice flooring contracts.
The way CPI starts the job makes the installation look simple, Sledge says. “These guys are really great at what they do because they take their time with the prep work. That’s the most important step.”
Burke has laid floors for the chain in California, New York, Florida and elsewhere. “I like these,” he says. They’re a change of pace from the more conventional commercial and industrial projects he typically sees, he says.
Still, he knows better than to take anything for granted. Old tile might have to be pulled up, or glue scraped free. “There’s always something at every location, but we always get through it,” he says.
Except for a slight deviation of the drive aisle to fit the contours of the space, the Charlotte installation goes off without a hitch. The five-day business trip is over. Burke and crew pack up their spikes, glitter and confetti and head off down the road to the next Justice store in the next town.