The Future of Retail and Fast Food: Built in Ohio

The Future of Retail and Fast Food: Built in Ohio

The Future of Retail and Fast Food: Built in Ohio 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

In the face of competition from ecommerce and a fundamental shift in consumer shopping behavior, experimentation has taken on new sense of urgency. Retailers are testing out new strategies to win back shoppers, and when brands want to try out new concepts, they often come to Columbus.

Since the late 1950’s Columbus has established itself as a test market. A combination of demographics and geography has turned it into the nation’s consumer laboratory. Columbus native and CEO of L Brands, Les Wexner, knows a thing or two about the market, continually testing new store designs in his hometown before rolling them out to the rest of the market. CG’s co-founder, Denny Gerdeman, who once designed stores for Wexner, attests to his vigilance in constant innovation. “Les was never satisfied. Every six months we had to redesign the stores.”

Even the fast-food business is living in the future in Columbus. Near Ohio State University, Wendy’s has unveiled a revamped restaurant that features a raft of changes designed by Chute Gerdeman. The location features paper menus, digital ordering kiosks, and introduced servers to deliver orders. Smaller details are being tinkered with, too. Counter seating now gives customers a view into the kitchen where food is made to order, trays have higher edges to reduce spills, fries are served in cups instead of sleeves, and the chain even partnered with Pandora to curate a customized community playlist. “Customers have a certain idea about what they think fast-food restaurants are,” said Abigail Pringle, chief development officer at Wendy’s. “We’re trying to shake that up.”

Click here to read more about this Alternate Universe of Shopping in Ohio by The New York Times.


A collection of insights research and observations across retail, restaurant, c-store and grocery. Helping brands provide a better experience for their customers. Enjoy.

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