Texas-Sized Store Design Ideas

Tips to spruce up a store inside and out
Mortons convenience store

An intriguing store design can help entice customers into driving onto the lot of a c-store such as Morton’s.

In football-crazy Texas, Randy Morton knows how to block, kick and tackle.

As the owner of a single Exxon-branded convenience store in Hallettsville, Texas, Morton has covered every aspect of intercepting and retaining customers via the design of his store, both inside and out.

With summer arriving, Morton, whose location opened last September, is activating summer-oriented outdoor strategies, as well as ones that extend beyond the seasons. He executed this play with another Texan: Mike Lawshe, president and CEO of Fort Worth-based Paragon Solutions.

Retailers should budget less than $5,000 per season on “store difference makers,” Morton says. At his store, that includes an old bathtub purchased on eBay that he uses as a large planter box.

“A fresh coat of paint [also] gives you an immediate lift.”

“Making your store ‘pop’ is about where you place something, how clean you keep it and how unique it looks; the bathtub is a conversation piece,” he says.

Lawshe says retailers have a variety of macro and micro design investments to consider. How they proceed depends on budget. “The key is to get a return on investment,” he says.

Here are Morton’s and Lawshe’s customer-building design tips, some of which are basic yet effective:

Store lighting: “If you think you have enough lights, add more and make the location brighter than a football field,” Morton says.

Use property tactically: Morton built a “dog rest stop and play area,” and it’s a huge hit with customers—particularly travelers with pets. Because his store sits on several acres, he also allocated land for a “community center,” where local groups can conduct car washes, bake sales and more.

Establish an experience: At the forecourt and inside, pipe in music to foster a warm-and- fuzzy vibe. “A fresh coat of paint [also] gives you an immediate lift,” Lawshe says. “Think through the experiential design and make it a continuous experience.”

Think aesthetic: Integrate lush landscaping and native foliage, paved stone, stamped concrete and even an outdoor fireplace if possible, Lawshe says.

Look different: Do you look like a gas station? Shed that perception through rich color  palettes and architectural design techniques.

“If all customers see is a white box with a red stripe (on the store), they’re not very  excited,” says Lawshe.