Last October, The New York Times reported on Disney's plans to introduce sweeping redesigns to its 340 retail stores, turning to board member Steve Jobs for input. That collaboration marked the first time Steve's handiwork would be overtly applied to a Disney product since he joined the board in 2006. Today, ifoAppleStore points out this interview with Paul Gainer, Disney's VP and general manager for Disney Store, North America, that Chain Store Age magazine published in April. It offers some updates and insights on their collaboration with Jobs.
According to Gainer, Apple's influence has permeated aspects the model store's physical appearance as well as the retail team's philosophy and process. Contrary to common industry practice, Steve convinced Disney to build a full-scale and fully-stocked store model inside an unmarked Glendale, Calif. warehouse. Apple did the same thing before opening its own retail chains. All the while, Gainer reports, Jobs prompted Disney to think big and take the time to get everything right.
"Apple's main involvement was to inspire Disney to think big, to think new and to think creatively," Gainer told the magazine. "Early on, they told us to take our time to do it right, which was very sound advice."
Additionally, Disney has shifted to a quality over quantity model, focusing its efforts in "...the best malls that support the high store productivity," according to Gainer. Similarly, Apple typically installs stores in large, high-traffic malls and shopping centers.
As for the store's layout, Gainer tells Chain Store Age that the model has an all-glass, 40-foot storefront that mimics Apple's recent designs. Inside there's an interactive area similiar to the theater in many Apple Stores. But that's where the physical similarities end. Disney aims to create "the best 30 minutes of a child's day" with these stores, focusing on interactivity. Movable components will allow the store to be easily re-configured and sophisticated lighting and even a scent component will delight young patrons ("Pew! Was that you or Pluto?").
Expect the first newly-designed store to open in California later this year, with a second one appearing in NYC "by the end of the year."