New name, new energy for merged retail association

Shop! aims to provide research-based value through leadership, education

Late last year, two retail industry associations joined forces to form a single organization representing all companies that provide products and services to retail stores.

Nine months after the Association for Retail Environments and Point of Purchase Advertising International merged to form A.R.E./POPAI The New Association, the organization changed its name to Shop!, a trade association focused on enhancing retail environments and experiences.

The new name, announced June 29, is designed to represent the 2,000-plus global member companies and align with the full industry community they support.

Previously, A.R.E. focused on retail design, store fixturization and visual-merchandising products and services. POPAI focused on in-store marketing.

“After a thorough vetting process that included numerous focus groups and input from many of our members, our association is proud to announce this new name and immediately begin our renewed focus to advance retail environments and experiences through our programs, events and publications,” said Steven Weiss, chief executive officer of Shop!

Along with the name change, the association is launching a complete new corporate identity that will affect all sub-brands, events, programs, publications and websites, including shopassociation.org.

Shop! will provide research-based value through leadership and education in research, design, build, marketing and evaluation.

“With members ranging from producers, visual merchandisers and ad agencies to designers, retailers and brands, the name Shop! conveys a strong image of the services and products our members provide to the industry,” said Bob Rosean, chairman of Shop!

“Everything our members build, design and implement at the store level is driven by the needs of the shopper and ultimately is created to entice consumers to shop.”

Rosean also is president of TJ Hale, a Menomonee Falls, Wis., manufacturer, distributor and installer of retail environment fixtures.

Surface & Panel recently asked Rosean about the state of the retail environment industry.

Q: What’s new in retail furniture and fixtures?

A: “We’re seeing much more organic material: repurposed woods, metals, etc.,” Rosean said. “The trend is on creating more home/residential feel within public spaces.”

The trends also are moving toward a more responsible use of materials, he said.

“In addition, there is a large movement toward custom locations, away from the cookie-cutter feel of mass-driven retail,” he said.

Q: Who is driving those changes?

A: “The green movement continues to play on designers and retailers as they look to resonate their concepts with the next generations of consumers,” Rosean said. “The next generations have a greater proclivity to authentic craft and responsible management of our environment.”

Rosean said retailers like to use local materials and local accents and craftsmanship to resonate for consumers, much like the craft beer, coffee and distillery movement. 

“This also plays well in the grocery segments, where locally grown and organic continue to play a larger role,” he said.

Q: How is the industry responding?

A: “If your segment of the industry is big box and mass-driven rollouts of concepts, this has been tougher sledding, both for retailers and suppliers to those retailers,” he said.

“If you are focused on designing, building and installing one-off ideas and locally infused concepts, you are seeing a great deal of success right now. This requires much more flexibility in your operations as a supplier and as a retailer.”

Q: Are there any hot or soft segments in the industry?

A: “Again, big box and mass retailers, especially those that sell mass branded products that can be bought online via Amazon, have a tough paper route ahead,” Rosean said.

“Those that build customized locations or who customize a basic concept, such as Starbucks, have done well. “

Rosean said fast casual retailers such as Noodles, Panera and others are doing well as consumers spend less time preparing meals at home.

Customized retail such as craft breweries and local health-related businesses also are doing well.

Q: What’s the state of the retail fixture market?

A: “We expect our market at retail to be up 5-10 percent this year,” Rosean said. “That’s been consistent since 2009.”

Rosean expects overall numbers to be softer this year as more recalibrating goes on between big box and localized craft concepts.

“The growth of rooftops is a direct correlation to our success,” he said. “The housing market and jobs outlook have been good, and that continues to work for our industry.

“We think this will continue through 2017.”

Q: What’s the general perspective from your own company, TJ Hale?

A: “At TJ Hale, we have been blessed with long relationships with key clients who are well-positioned to navigate the changes above,” Rosean said. “We continue to look for those relationships that are not only well-positioned for the future consumer but also have our same ethical values.”