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Bealls Launches New Store Concept


Bealls Inc., the 100-year-old privately held operator of over 530 stores, is expanding its retail footprint with a new specialty store format, Bunulu.

Focused on the coastal lifestyle and targeted at outdoor and youth-minded shoppers, the new concept has a more upmarket vibe than Bealls’ other banners. It premiered at Coconut Point Mall in Estero, Florida. Two additional locations — at St. Johns Town Center, Jacksonville, Florida, and The Garden Mall, Palm Beach, Florida — are set to open by the end of this year.

With a tagline of “Land, Water and Style,” Bunulu (a derivative aboriginal word meaning “place of water”) sells women’s and men’s clothing, footwear and accessories at moderate to higher price points. The featured brands range from Patagonia and Prana to Trina Turk and SunBum Sun Care.

“Bunulu was born out of a love for the outdoors,” said Lorna Nagler, president, Bunulu, Bradenton, Florida. “The blending of style with function helped guide our buying choices, and we know that the shopper will feel the connection to the coastal lifestyle while shopping at Bunulu.”

Designed and developed by architecture and design firm Little, Charlotte, North Carolina, the 4,000-sq.-ft. store is stylish and inviting, with a casual feel and coastal-inspired look. An angled entryway helps pull customers in and also provides an inset for window merchandising.

“The overall look and feel of the store supports Bunulu’s commitment to coastal lifestyle enthusiasts who expect a unique, soulful and comfortable approach to style,” said James Farnell, creative director, Little.

Key design elements, such as storefront driftwood shutters, green resin concrete flooring, surfboards and found objects made of natural materials — including glass, rope and sand — permeate the store and help reinforce the Bunulu brand. Tall vertical driftwood beams add a modern aesthetic to the otherwise rustic space.

Water and beach images abound. The perimeter walls are clad in whitewashed and multi-colored wood planks that look worn and weathered.

Bunulu aims for customers to be able to close their eyes and taste the salt on their lips and feel the ocean breeze and the pull of the wave, explained Farnell. To that end, scent, textures and decor are employed in the store design to immerse customers in the coastal experience.

A wall, visible as customers enter, makes a bold brand statement, one that is supported with strong visual merchandising. The wall also helps create zones within the space while still enabling sightlines to be maintained. A nearby backyard-styled flexible seating area is enhanced with framed lifestyle imagery and brand messaging.

The heart of Bunulu is a multi-purpose area with counter seating, called the “sandbar,” where customers can relax and charge up their devices. It is set off with green resin concrete flooring.

“This space is always active, with product out for everyone to touch, feel, play and try,” said Farnell.

An adjacent wall is dedicated to supporting local initiatives, and allows associates and customers to share local knowledge and experiences.

“It also supports store events and provides a space to communicate complimentary services and activities that support the life styles and interests of Bunulu customers,” Farnell added.

The fitting rooms feature large-scale graphic images of familiar Florida coastal scenes. The oversized images provide a backdrop for customers — not only for trying on clothing but also for taking selfies.

The store design supports traditional checkout services. It also allows for mobile transactions in remote locations around the perimeter.

As for the future, Little is currently developing the concept for several other Bunulu locations using the Coconut Point store as a model. Some elements will evolve as the concept is localized to suit its surrounding local.

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