Artco Group, the Miami-based specialist store planners, designers and manufacturers of customer millwork and store fixtures, has been providing store designs for the duty free and travel retail industry for the past 30 years, always staying ahead of the retail trend.
The company created some striking new stores in the Caribbean this past year, and here TMI spotlights some standout shops from Grand Cayman; Nassau, The Bahamas; and Puerto Rico.
In Grand Cayman, Artco’s V.P. Sales/Senior Project Manager Alex Portal created two especially effective designs for two stores belonging to Island Companies Ltd., Churchill’s Cigars and De Sunglass Man, located in Island Plaza.
The design of Churchill’s Cigars is one that was adapted from the cigar store that Artco built for ICL in the Grand Cayman airport. The company was so pleased with the airport store they wanted one like it in the Island Plaza in the middle of George Town.
“The entire design of the store replicates a giant cigar box,” explains Portal. “If you look closely at the area just below the ceiling, these are actual hasps and seals – large size – from boxes of Cohiba cigars. We re-created one giant humidor.”
De Sunglass Man was a renovation in an area that was previously used for Pandora, says Portal and features a complete new look for the brand. One highlight is a triple display for the G-Shock watches custom-made by Artco, which showcases men’s, ladies, and kids watches.
The stunning Blue Diamond Luxury Jewelry store in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico was completely renovated by Artco early last year before the island was hit by the hurricane, but Old San Juan escaped the worst of the storm damage, and the store was able to open for business.
“We collaborated closely with the architect on the renovation: this was an old building and involved a massive demolition to clear up the space,” explained Portal. Among the design highlights are the elegant monochromatic color scheme softened by white highlights, and lots of daylight streaming through the windows. The designers made innovative use of 2 inch aluminum posts in front of the windows, which look like they are floating boxes. Even the massive circular lamps were specially designed by the architect, said Portal.
Another showpiece designed and built by Artco is the new Park Lane Luxe store on Bay Street in Nassau, The Bahamas. Park Lane was originally a jewelry store run by partners Jeff Keswani and Raj Chandiramani (along with Bahamian partners) in another location since 2009, but the owners invested more than $1.5 million in renovating the new location and significantly expanded the product offer, adding high-end perfumes like Creed and Bond No. 9, a full array of sunglasses and a humidor to their traditional fine jewelry selection, according to Park Lane Luxe consultant Suzanne Kilic.
“The location is the old The Perfume Shop in the historic Lightbourne Building,” said Portal, adding that the renovation involved a significant demolition and took nearly a year to complete. “The interior of the store was on three levels—street level, above street level and below street level, so we had to even out the flooring before anything else.”
“The owners are very passionate about the store, and have created a warm and welcoming venue that is appealing to both tourists and the local clientele,” says Kilic. The new design features a cocktail bar in the back of the store, serving local Bahamian drinks, complete with glass cases showcasing merchandise.
“Customers sit and relax and try on sunglasses, perfume and look at jewelry. It also has a ‘window to the jeweler’ so customers can watch the jeweler make adjustments to their selection,” she says. “Park Lane Luxe has also hired a local artist to decorate the store each holiday, holds special events like bottle engravings, and caters to local shoppers with services like gift baskets. We are really concentrating on the experience.”