February 2, 2023

Limitless Seasonal Retail Display Activations

When we say “Big Ideas. No Limits.”, we mean “Big Ideas. No Limits.” In our world, simple retail displays are a thing of the past. While multi-level product shelving decorated in large-format printed graphics used to be enough to ‘wow’ customers, our high-tech world now requires an ever-expanding immersive retail experience to stand out in the eyes of consumers. 
Over the past year, we collaborated with Columbia Sportswear Company’s brand leaders to create five, six-week interactive seasonal retail displays in their Portland Employee Store. Each display – Out Dry, Camp Life, Performance Fishing Gear, Omni-Heat Infinity, and Winter Sports – was designed to highlight a different line of merchandise. In advance of each seasonal product launch, we were given a rough design concept for the 225-square-foot working space. From there we got creative, interweaving video, sound, lighting, temperature, and more. The result was an ever-changing seasonal display that customers grew to anticipate seeing evolve with the merchandise. Check out some of our favorite features below!


Each retail display featured a computer monitor that showcased branded video footage provided by the client. The looping product launch-specific reel matched that of Columbia’s website homepage and social media graphics, facilitating consistent brand touch points across digital and brick-and-mortar. Our engineers positioned the computer monitors so that we could discreetly incorporate the necessary wires into the displays, routing them through the styrene stand, behind hollow resin rocks, and into the shelving structure of the custom-fabricated wooden hut. We also nested a larger TV monitor into the Omni-Heat Infinity background graphic utilizing graphic-wrapped recycled shipping tubes to provide the necessary support and bring electricity.



What’s an immersive experience without sound?! We started by exploring motion-controlled audio that would activate when customers entered the display area, but our research and development department found a more modern solution: directional “sound shower” technology! These new speakers allowed us to constantly play sound, but control where in the store it could be heard – customers within the display boundaries received full audio, while those outside the space did not hear anything.
Once we had the technology nailed down, we tackled sound engineering. From footsteps in the snow to a crackling fire, casting a fishing line, and ocean waves, we created all sound effects in-house, stacking multiple noises and adding fade-ins and outs as needed.



The primary lighting in Columbia’s Portland Employee Store comes from the store’s permanent overhead lights. While they ensure a well-lit shopping experience, the ambiance leaves a bit to be desired. So, when possible, we incorporated different lighting solutions directly in the seasonal displays.  
Our first display – Out Dry – featured a selfie station with a photo backdrop and spotlight. Next was a LED fire pit in the Camp Life display. We stacked actual rocks sprinkled with sawdust on top of motion LED lights to achieve a glowing ember look. With camping chairs positioned around the “fire”, the display took you right to the forest! Finally, Winter Sports featured a double-sided lit SEG that spanned the 18-foot width of the working space. With an auto timer that turned the lighting on/off in accordance with store hours, the SEG was a statement piece that conserved energy.



The last two displays – Omni-Heat Infinity and Winter Sports – were for the winter lovers. Upon entering the store and passing the checkout counter, customers walked through a 3D snow arch structure created by yours truly. During the design development stage, Columbia expressed interest in having cold air blow through the arch. Keeping this in mind, we used software and technology to take 3D models and transform them into a cost-effective graphic stacking system that ultimately created the dimensional effect. Next, our research and development team sourced different fans and air conditioners searching for one that had enough output. We landed on a stand-up air conditioner, modifying its internal delivery system to maximize the airflow for the space. To seamlessly incorporate the chill, we cut an airway into a section of the arch so that customers would be greeted by a cool mountain breeze upon entering the display.


Columbia’s seasonal retail displays were created to be interacted with. To encourage customer engagement, we incorporated photo opportunities into three of the five displays. To launch the first display, Out Dry, Columbia offered a small store discount to customers who took and posted a photo to Instagram of themselves wearing one of the new rain products in front of a branded backdrop. For Camp Life, we expanded on the original selfie station to include a framed backdrop of Mount Hood. Finally, for the fishing fanatics, we incorporated a real fishing pole hooked onto a dimensionally printed wooden fish that customers could pose with.


One of the major perks of creating back-to-back retail displays is the ability to reuse graphic and fabrication components. Columbia and Infinity both like to keep it green, so we collaborated to repurpose parts of the earlier displays into later ones, while simultaneously choosing sustainable materials whenever possible.
Camp Life was one for the (sustainable) books. The display featured repurposed bleacher wood as the picnic table, shipping tubes as the log structure, shipping palettes as the shelving, recyclable Falconboard for graphics, post-consumer backlit fabric, actual rocks and sawdust, salvaged rope, and scrap plywood! We also fabricated a wooden hut that we used for the remainder of the activations, and used the same snowy floor graphic and arch for both Omni-Heat Infinity and Winter Sports.
We love coming up with creative solutions to bring ever bigger ideas to life! Want to step up your brand’s retail display game? Contact us to learn more!

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