What do tennis great Serena Williams, Hollywood movie star Reese Witherspoon and decorative concrete have in common?
Answer: They all are players in an experiment in retailing. This came in the form of a new destination in shopping called Neighborhood Goods.
Both Williams and Witherspoon brought their brands — the Serena leisure apparel line and Draper James, Witherspoon’s Southern-flavored women’s clothing label — to Neighborhood Goods in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas. The store is billed as a “new kind of shopping experience. Brands will rotate in and out,” the Dallas Morning News reported. Both Williams and Witherspoon were two of the early test cases in this new retailing frontier deep in the heart of Texas.
A new concept in retail
The concept is described as a new twist on conventional “brick and mortar” retailing, with a dynamic, evolving variety of brands and items, combined with online ordering.
But before the Serena and Draper James offerings made their appearance, architects Droese Raney, general contractor Scott + Reid and decorative- and polished-concrete contractor Johnson & Sons put the stamp of their own brands on the Neighborhood Goods location, creating a high-end store environment with glistening polished concrete, appealing but subtle colors and artistic flair.
“One of the greatest challenges was to create a neutral floor plane that did not compete with the fixtures or merchandise, was durable enough to handle retail traffic, was cost-effective and could be completed within our aggressive finish-out timeline,” says Lance E. Raney, principal, Droese Raney Architecture.
“The answer was to grind, stain and polish the existing concrete slab. By staining the ‘activations’ we were able to delineate the vendor areas from the ‘pedestrian streets’ that weave through the retail neighborhoods.”
“Johnson & Sons made it happen,” Raney adds, giving credit to the polished-concrete contractor for its collaboration and execution.
The design and construction team sought to produce a “neutral” neighborhood environment for this changing roster of retailers. The goal was to offer an adaptable setting for an array of different merchandise and brands, while placing emphasis on the products sold. Along with the neutral polished-concrete color palette, the finishes featured white, powder-coated steel fixtures and natural wood, Raney says.
Mike Cox of Johnson & Sons says the polished concrete design by Droese Raney was relatively straightforward — polished gray concrete for open areas of the floor, and then a darker gray stain for rectangular areas where merchandise is displayed.
Taking advantage of existing concrete
The existing concrete surface was in good condition, giving Johnson & Sons a good canvas to work its artistry. The designers specified a Class B aggregate finish with a Level 3 gloss. Johnson & Sons employed an eight-step polishing process using metal- and resin-bond diamond grinding to a 1500-grit finish. Contractors also applied acetone dye at the 200-grit grind level. They then followed that with densifier and subsequent grind/polish steps.
They used Prosoco’s Consolideck system for the polished concrete process — densifier and guard (sealer), and also acetone stain.
An epoxy flooring system in a steel-gray color inside the store’s bar area was also part of the design scheme. Here, the installation included epoxy basecoat, quartz broadcast and also a urethane topcoat. The same existing concrete surface received an initial grind to create a good profile for adhesion of the epoxy.
Cox says the “fast-track” project put Johnson & Sons to the test in coordinating the job with other trades.
“At one time there were 17 scissor lifts working around us at the same time,” he says.
The prospects for this new retailing concept may be an unknown. However, the expertly crafted, polished concrete floor offers a solid, though subtle, foundation on which to build a brand.
Project at a Glance
Decorative Concrete Contractor: Johnson & Sons, Plano, Texas
General Contractor: Scott + Reid General Contractors Inc., Dallas, Texas
Architect: Droese Raney Architecture Inc., Dallas
Scope of Project: Polished concrete for Neighborhood Goods shopping destination in Plano, Texas, including application of stain colors used to highlight various retailers and their offerings. They also installed a decorative epoxy floor system in the bar area.
Most Challenging Aspect: Precise alignment of borders between stained and uncolored concrete surface, and also working with other trades in a fast-track project.
Products and Equipment Used: Prosoco Consolideck LS/CS Densifier, LS Guard and GemTone Stain in Concrete Gray