A Note on Design

The Food Baron is a place full of unforgiving flourescent lighting and colorless backdrops, and I assure you this is intentional. This has been the primary theme for grocery store design for as long as I can remember. From the easily scuffed white tile floors to the monotonous beige racks, stands and shelves, it’s just a never-ending cocktail of mediocrity. I suppose there was some market research that went into that choice, perhaps imagining that the chromatic purgatory of the decor would draw more eyes to the products themselves, and consequently lead to more sales. Whatever it is, it’s a fitting metaphor for the way Nate looks upon his job, so I made sure it shone through in the store scenes.

But lately I’ve noticed this theme changing. As some of the stores in my local area are remodeled, I’m definitely seeing a pattern of more earthy tones in the floors particularly, and much less harshness in the color scheme in general. It might be part of the response to the movement toward more natural and organic products, but no matter the cause it’s a welcome transition. The products might not get the spotlight as much as they used to, but the fact that your eyes are no longer being assaulted by the bright white void should allow customers to spend more time in the stores, accomplishing the same overall goal.

The ambiance in the Food Baron, on the other hand, will always remain blindingly banal.

12 thoughts on “A Note on Design

  1. I never noticed how bleak the Food Baron looked, I was always concentrating on the characters. But I suppose the blandness of the background helps draw attention to characters.

  2. I think the idea behind the traditional color scheme at such places is the same as elevator music and beige computers. Essentially, they don’t want anyone getting upset. The white and beige combo is emotionally neutral and if it’s evocative of anything, it’s cleanliness. The move toward less intense lighting and darker colors is most likely a cost savings measure and an accompanying required design change. A shop with dim lights in all white and beige seems sketchy while a shop with dim lights and all earth tones seems cozy.

  3. It was always the smell that reminds me of the whole grocery store experience, especially when I was growing up in the dark times before the Big-Boxes got into the game and started circulating their air more efficiently. That unique blend of bleach, floor wax and fresh vegetables always takes me back to the Red and White or IGA in my hometown circa 1977.

    1. I .. sort of remember Red & White? We had a handful of them in my corner of SC when I was a kid. I seem to remember them being smaller than your average supermarket these days.

  4. Reminds me of aldi’s or save-a-lot.

  5. Obviously you’ve never been inside a Trader Joe’s.

    1. I shop at Trader Joe’s every Saturday, actually. I don’t really consider TJ’s in the same category as Kroger, Publix, Food Lion, etc.

      1. As a TJ’s employee, thank you for that vote of confidence.

        1. I’m a big fan. Though my wife and I do miss the pierogies and the grits in the tube. -/

  6. “[…] the fact that your eyes are no longer being assaulted by the bright white void should allow customers to spend more time in the stores, accomplishing the same overall goal.”

    Perhaps you’ve never been in a Wegmans? They have a friggin’ day care (for some value of, you can drop your kids while shopping and they will be watched over and can enjoy the big pile of plastic balls and other kid attractions while you shop. Free!) They have a huge deli area, including hot bar, salad bar, Asian food bar, and the deli will make you a sandwich or many other prepared to order items. And they have a large upstairs dining area in which to relax and enjoy your meal.

    Friends of ours make “couples dates” to go to Wegmans on the weekend. Drop the kids, get lunch, relax and enjoy it, do the grocery shopping, pay, pick up kids and you’ve spent a good three hours, entertained the kid, had some nice relaxation, and got your shopping all done.

    1. WEGMANS RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Seriously, they have ranked in Fortune Magazines Top 10 of Best Places to Work for over 10 years, they’ve been #1 at least once (I think Fortune has a rule you can’t win #1 too often). That has to beat Food Baron.

      Anytime I see an article talking about some new wrinkle in grocery marketing, I say to myself “Wegmans has had that for at least a year,”

      Oberon mentioned their deli area. In one of their stores near me, they have a large dining area for deli patrons – and they serve beer & wine! They also have function rooms for your meeting or what not – free with the purchase of a food order of a minimum size, but certainly in line with what you would want to feed a crown big enough to need the function room in the first place.

      For the rest of you, Wegmans is slowly spreading. I’ve heard that in the far reaches where an isolated Wegmans has opened, people will drive for an hour or more to shop there.

      No I do not and never have worked for Wegmans.


      1. Gotta admit that does sound pretty awesome!

        Which means it will never spread to the South, more than likely.

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