When our team mapped out the renovations for the shop with the reopening of our original door from 1988, we all agreed on one thing: we wanted to recycle and repurpose as much as possible. Retail redesign and revamping is rarely a green process but we knew we could do it differently. In a throw away society, redesign often comes with a high price tag and an even higher environmental impact. Replacing old racks with new is certainly easier than getting creative with materials and space, but the innovative problem solving and communication required builds a strong team and a more unique retail experience.
When the renovation began, I was on the West Coast interviewing the brand responsibility manager for Patagonia and the new national sales manager for Toad & Co. for the Glass Top Counter. What the team accomplished in four days at the shop will forever wow me. When I walked through the original entrance from 1988 on day four of the remodel, I was astonished at the amount of work and positive change at the shop. Without buying a single new rack, the team worked together to repurpose racks we already had, use wall space more effectively, and create a more optimal lay out.
Our space was never intended for retail which adds an additional challenge. Carr Mill was originally a textile mill. After the mill closed, the building sat unused for many years until it was to be torn down in 1975 but, thankfully, the townspeople objected. The community convinced the developers to repurpose the space which would become the central hub of Carrboro. The space itself reflects a central value to our industry and store: repurposing/recycling. In redesigning, we wanted to make our store more handicap accessible by widening pathways for easier navigation. We donated five racks to the local thrift shop which opened up the space for wheel chair and stroller accessibility. Rarely is retail thought of as public space but it is my hope that all store owners across industries consider accessibility in their floor plan and store layout to ensure spaces are truly equally accessible to all people.
We also wanted to build more space for telling our story as we celebrate 30 years as a family owned and operated business. Our incredible merchandising manager Sara Abernethy who created the strategic and spacious new layout for the store also built in spaces for story boards. I searched through old files and boxes to unearth photos of original TB&C staff and customers, amazing postcards sent in the early 90s to the shop from TB&C alum and customers, and vintage Scott Bertram TB&C shirts well worn and threadbare. Inspired by the Patagonia archives, we are creating our own timeline and archive that will show the evolution of our shop, a tapestry of Townsend Bertram & Co. We are grateful to have Sara on our team as her creativity and merchandising expertise are invaluable as we undertake these exciting projects.
The common thread woven through the collection of artifacts and images is fun. Staff and customer’s pose on mountain tops and riversides and trail heads with wide smiles. Postcards from loyal customers express deep gratitude for great gear that optimized their adventures around the globe. Excitement is vivid in the images of my parents from opening day at the store in 1988, the joy of accomplishing their life dream of opening their own adventure outfitter evident in their happy faces.
30 years later, fun is still at the core of everything we do at TB&C. Even on day four of redesign insanity, Aretha Franklin was blasting and the team was cracking jokes and laughing hysterically till they had to collapse in Helionox chairs. We ordered in lunch from local favorites like Neal’s Deli and Carrboro Pizza Oven. Good tunes and high fives and accolades to jobs well done echoed through the store.
TB&C and the outdoor industry were founded in the philosophy of work hard, play hard. I feel grateful to have found a job and a team that sees no separation between the two. Finding fluidity in fun and work is a rare gift. Getting to work with people who become a part of your family and the fabric of your life is nothing short of extraordinary.
As my own family still mourns the loss of my father and co-founder of TB&C, I feel even deeper gratitude for the extended TB&C family. My dad always dreamed of reopening the old entrance and thanks to our talented General Manager, Taylor Dansby, that dream is a reality. We have many more dreams for TB&C and can’t wait to share them with you as we embark on the next 30 years. Walk back in time through the old door from 1988 and discover the redesign for yourself. Let us know what you think because you are a part of our tribe, our family, our future. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. Thank you for supporting local. Thank you for reading the Glass Top Counter. And most importantly, thank you for keeping our dream alive. Cheers to 30 more years of adventure, passion and community!
Please comment with what you love about the new layout and enter to win one of our new TB&C hoodies! Winner will be chosen on Tuesday, January 23rd. We always love and appreciate hearing your feedback!