Earlier this month, Kroger opened their doors to Main & Vine – a brand new 27,000 SF, fresh‐format supermarket prototype in Gig Harbor, Washington. With the widely noted successes of recent ventures like their Roundy’s purchase and the billion-dollar-plus status of their Simple Truth brand, this new brand launch comes with much excitement and anticipation. FRCH partnered with the country’s largest supermarket chain step-by-step from concept to completion to bring the new natural grocery brand to life.
FRCH was tasked with creating a community-based grocery store prototype; they wanted a place that made eating healthy, simple, affordable and fun. We soon realized that this new venture would grow into so much more! From the fresh and contemporary color and materials palette to the playful applications of the organic ampersand — the actualization of the new Main & Vine brand identity within the retail environment is simple, honest and timeless. Main & Vine is positioned to provide the missing link back to authentic local markets by putting fresh food at the center of an immersive experience with the ultimate brand purpose — to feed the human spirit.
We first visited Gig Harbor and the surrounding Seattle area late last spring with the Kroger team and were captivated by the magnitude of the natural landscape. As we delved into the project, it became clear — what nourishes the body most is what’s fresh in its natural state — it’s that simple. The landscape of the market reflects this refreshing tone. Coupled with the sheer potential of the existing interior architecture filled with raw wood beams and concrete with tons of natural light pouring in, “nature” became our central source of design inspiration. Our muse was the quintessential neighborhood park and the entire design team committed upfront to making the best use of the existing space with minimal impact to the original architecture.
The vibrant energy is evident from the buzz of the crowded parking lot on opening day. The excitement from the community makes it clear that Main & Vine itself is about so much more than just groceries. It is positioned to be an immersive event that changes the perception of routine grocery shopping. Upon entry you are greeted by a bright and airy space, and much like sight-seeing in mountainous Seattle, your eyes are immediately drawn upward. Each feature speaks to the diverse terrain of Gig Harbor by design, from the large-scale, living green wall and the 2-story seaside mural painted by local artists, to the signature canopies sculpturally defining departments overhead. The customer journey evokes a sense of culinary wanderlust, the layout blurs the line between departments allowing shoppers to meander and discover their own self-guided path or inviting them to interact and engage on a more sensory level. Rich color and naturally textured materials form the perfect neutral backdrop and allow the bountiful displays of fresh produce to shine at the center of the store. The lively central hub provides a backdrop for delectable cooking demos and is intended to become a beacon for local producer presentations, seasonal healthy-living advice, uplifting stewardship initiatives and engaging community activities.
The store’s light and airy tone is reinforced at eye-level with streamlined fixture displays that provide transparency and open up sight lines in a simple way. With true artisan quality, the customized fixture design puts the curated local products on their rightful ‘pedestal.’ Engaging environmental graphics introduce the new Main & Vine brand identity to the space and clarify the visual hierarchy with a straight-forward communication strategy. Infused with an approachable tone-of-voice, the signage and graphics package is designed to speak to the ‘naturally-curious’ customer as if they were our neighbor. The branded retail environment includes permanent placemaking features and departmental navigation that highlights the proprietary naming strategy of key in-store destinations, like the Gig Harbor Grill, Brew & Blend café and the Nourished Living department. Changeable storytelling graphics provide both product education and local inspiration at fixture-level. Bold campaign graphics are programmed at key intervals, giving the store the ability to visually morph per seasonal promotion, while maintaining clear visibility to primary wayfinding. Inspired by park & trail mile markers, fresh & local badges punctuate the shopping journey with intuitive eye-level navigation and quick-read farm-to-plate stories about each local product presentation along the way. Proprietary ampersand icons and patterns emerge, providing a symbolic branded element to unify communication in a consistent way. Local typographic pattern is hinged upon the concept of using popular streets to resonate directly with the community. Dynamic typography spells out the cross streets of Main & Vine’s first Gig Harbor store amidst the names of local parks and landmarks, further emphasizing the concept of bringing the outside in. Overall, the clean, direct approach to the brand identity, store layout, fixture design, color and materials, and environmental graphics provide a unified aesthetic, making it simple to find, experience and enjoy healthy foods.
With the comprehensive brand experience in mind, FRCH also jumped at the opportunity to establish initial guidelines for Main & Vine. As with any new brand launch, ensuring visual consistency is paramount on a global front, even for applications beyond the in‐store décor. Equally important is the local communication, designed to flex per each store’s unique community perspective. This strategic duality sculpts the Main & Vine identity and begins to set guardrails for visual brand communication both globally and locally as a roadmap toward a seamless omnichannel experience. Previews of the store design have already surfaced online with much excitement from local news venues to numerous shoppers posting sneak peeks on social media. The new Main & Vine website is now live as well, visit their site to learn even more. Happy grand opening Gig Harbor Main & Vine!
Photo Credit: Instagram