Home Depot rolls out “Design Center” test format

Home Depot is readying two stores on opposite coasts for a test market of the Home Depot Design Center, a store concept geared towards residential consumers with a focus on women.

The stores, in Charlotte, N.C., and Concord, Calif., open this month with a wider selection of home storage items, lower ceilings, a more demure color scheme and a home furnishings “store-within-a-store.”

Jason Feldman, senior director of merchandising for Home Depot, called the project a “hybrid” of decor items and a convenience hardware business.

“The customer feedback we’ve received is that customers would like to spend more time and more money in those project categories,” such as home decor and storage, Feldman said.

He added that the test stores have a broader appeal than the “premium brand” format of the company's Expo Design Center stores, 34 of which currently are in operation in the United States. Rather than plan on expanding the “Design Center” format, the company is going to see what happens with the product assortment at the two stores and translate that into Home Depot’s regular orange box stores, Feldman said.

The goal is to appeal to women and couples with an expanded, beautified door and window selection area, designer storage items, a more upscale gardening center and a “Home Decorators Collection” furnishings store-within-a-store. The Home Decorators Collection is a catalog business acquired by Home Depot a little more than a year ago.

Although the stores are definitely consumer focused, they will include a “trade office” to serve interior designers, architects and builders. Feldman said the company hopes consumers will drive their contractors into the stores, while contractors will direct their clients to the stores’ detailed showrooms.

The stores are about 90,000 square feet, approximately the size of a regular Home Depot store. For more information on the stores, read the Oct. 22 issue of Home Channel News magazine.