Interview with Paragon Solution's Mike Lawshe
You may have noticed the last time you visited your corner convenience store (or C-store as we say in the biz) that things looked a bit, well, different. It probably seemed brighter and fresh inside, more modern and maybe even includes a new array of food options. C-stores across the nation are undergoing rapid change to meet the demands of the modern consumer, and that includes design consideration.
To learn more about this C-store overhaul, we spoke with Mike Lawshe, founder of Paragon Solutions out of Forth Worth Texas. Since 1986, Paragon Solutions has designed solutions for retail and commercial applications such as convenience stores, quick serve restaurants, restaurants, travel centers, specialty retail, corporate identity and much more.
Harbinger Sign: We’re seeing rapid design conversions in C-stores across the country. Tell us about what’s driving the C-store (r)evolution right now – what’s changing and why?
Mike Lawshe: I think it is a combination of food and technology meeting ambiance and service. Food is king and nothing tops quality food in the scheme of things. When you combine the latest in technology whether it be ordering systems or interactive technologies that can capture the imagination while you satisfy the palate. Key services like restrooms, fuel options and core food items must be offered in a Lifestyle ambiance that attracts a broad demographic. These things are like the opening ante in Poker. Good food is the nuts!
H: What role do you think C-stores and C-store design can play into trends, i.e. this summer’s popular Pokemon Go? How can they be flexible and ready to meet challenging 21st Century customer demands?
M.L.: I think it is critical to embrace trends to stay relevant. The key is to not ride those trends too long where you are out of touch with your customers. I would rather be the first on and the first one off trends. Millennials and other customers are not that hard to figure out. We just have to stop trying to get them to buy what we want to sell them and give them what they want to buy.
H: Where does Paragon see C-store design heading? What does the future hold?
M.L.: I like to steal a line from Starbucks and say that ‘Convenience stores must strive to be the third place.’ Home-Work-Third Place. Where do you go for your Third Place. I will give you a hint. It’s not your fathers C-Store.
H: We’re fascinated by the overall design aspect, but specifically, where do you see signage come into play?
M.L.: As a designer, I think signage is critical but often misunderstood and misused. Signage and graphics should be relevant and be a reflection of the Brand promise that a retailer makes to their customers. What is your Brand Promise?
Thanks Mike for taking some time out to chat with us. The next time you head to the gas pump or corner store, walk in and see if you can identify the changes in design.