Stores Create Theatre-like Wine-shopping Experience

Aug. 8, 2008

Canadian retail design firm Perennial Inc. has unveiled its latest store design at Aisle 43, in St. Catharines, ONT. Together with Andrew Peller Limited, they have launched a new way to discover and shop for Ontario wines.

The newly designed store is now open for business in The Pen Centre, Niagara's largest shopping destination. A second location was slated to open in Loblaws in Musgrave St. in Toronto by the end of July. The name Aisle 43 is a nod to the store's unique origins—those who know a bit about wine will be in on the secret right away; others will learn where it came from as soon as they venture inside.

Because the majority of the Aisle 43 stores will exist within grocery stores, "every detail of the store, right down to the fixtures, was specifically chosen to reflect the fact Aisle 43 is a natural extension of the grocery store experience," says Tara O'Neil, director of design environments. Vibrant colours, custom-designed wire shelving, backlit bottles, and large, evocative food images give consumers a mouthwatering first impression. Once inside, they're treated to easy-to-navigate categories and fun, unexpected communications (including Ontario's first retail automatic wine tasting unit) that entice, enliven, and educate.

"Our goal was to design a retail space and create an in-store language that democratizes wine and enhances the consumers' sense of fun and discovery," explains Kelley Doris, Perennia director of communications. "We also wanted to take advantage of the great frontline staff, to provide a theatre-like atmosphere where they can demonstrate their expertise and pride of Andrew Peller Ltd. wines," adds Creative Director Solange Rivard. 

Other unique design choices include using color and icons in tandem with "personality profiles" rather than the traditional sweetness codes and industry jargon to describe the wines. Also, product is organized based on how most people actually choose their wine (i.e., reds and whites first, then price range) instead of the usual country/varietal way-finding system.

And perhaps one of the most distinctive elements of the new store is that it offers the aforementioned self-serve wine tasting section—the first in Ontario. For $1, consumers can taste from a selection of wines through an automatic in-store dispenser and be refunded their $1 upon purchase. 

Aisle 43 stores will continue to be opened in 2008 and 2009.

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