Gideon checks out with VMSD

Posted December 13, 2013

VMSD magazine, the hosts of the International Retail Design Conference (IRDC), interviewed Gideon D’Arcangelo, ESI’s Vice President of Creative Strategy, for the Checking Out section of the November issue.

In September, Gideon presented at IRDC with Amanda Casgar of Lululemon and Andrew Bello of Starbucks. The three of them presented the future of community-based retail. You can read an article that outlines the big idea here: Community Retail at Scale.

A different perspective of the ideas is outlined in the conversation below. The interview was conducted and written by Steve Kaufman and can be read online here: Checking Out: Gideon D’Arcangelo.



Gideon D’Arcangelo

VP of Creative Strategy at ESI Design helps retailers become educators and community organizers.


VMSD: What do ESI’s retail clients need?

Gideon D’Arcangelo: A way to make all that physical real estate useful and compelling again.

VMSD: And the answer?

GD: The next chapter of retail will be that people are more interested in relationships with

their retailers than in simply doing a transaction. People will want to go to a store

because they can learn something, talk to someone smart, participate in an event,

socially interact, all the things you can’t get online.

VMSD: Example?

GD: Petco is doing something interesting. Its big-box stores offer a number of services, like

dog-walking, pet training and inoculations, but the scale of the environment is too large

for this experience. They recently opened about 50 Unleashed by Petco stores offering

the same price benefits as their big boxes but at the properly intimate scale, so you

know and trust the staff.

VMSD:How about clients of ESI?

GD: We’ve helped Staples develop a smaller-store format that makes it really easy to access

inventory that’s online but also gives people a reason to go to the store. It’s creating that

third space Starbucks has perfected so well, a meeting hub where you can get a cup of

coffee, get some printing or copying services done, hold a small business meeting and

perhaps buy some product.

VMSD: What are your roots?

GD: I worked on a very early interactive media project called the Global Jukebox with

music scholar Alan Lomax; the project was funded by Apple and the National Science

Foundation. We knew in the early 90s that we were on to something that would

transform the world, interactive media that would change from a one-way broadcast

system to a two-way or multi-way conversation.

VMSD: You spoke at IRDC about retailers’ community engagement. What was the


GD: It’s time for retailers to become community-centric, linking to their local

neighborhoods. After all, they have this existing built real estate, so make it a compelling

place for people to visit.

VMSD: Such as?

GD: Such as an event space, for local non-profits to use. Or a place to hold parties – booksignings,

speaking engagements, educational events, local services. Or a gallery space

for local artisans. Or a meeting space for community groups.

VMSD: Who’s doing a good job of this?

GD: It’s part of Lululemon’s operating model. They hold free yoga classes every Sunday

morning. They also engage local brand ambassadors, who teach about trends.

VMSD: So it doesn’t have to be just computer classes.

GD: No, learning doesn’t have to be confined to consumer electronics. The product may be

simple, but what you do with it in your life never is.

Ian Lewis Campbell

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