When you pull into the parking lot of Ritchie’s Flooring Warehouse in Dartmouth, N.S., you expect to walk into a typical flooring store. While partially clad in glass and wrapped in a ‘band’ of blue siding, the building’s mainly grey facade is otherwise unassuming. But on the other side of the entry doors is a showroom that far exceeds expectations.
Opened in January 2022, Ritchie’s newest flooring store in Burnside industrial park is the first of its kind in both scale and product offerings. The retail-focused showroom is not only huge at 13,700 square feet but it offers decorators, designers, builders, developers, landlords and the general public the largest selection of flooring in Atlantic Canada: hardwood, pre-engineered wood, luxury vinyl plank, tile, laminate, cork, broadloom carpet, area rugs and more.
But perhaps what stands out most is the showroom’s clean aesthetic and modern design. Envisioned by Halifax-based commercial interior design studio Design360, the project team had just six months amid a global pandemic to transform the former discount retail warehouse once renovation work got underway. The primary objective was to create a showroom that effectively markets all of Ritchie’s flooring products and service offerings, including quality installation, while allowing for flexibility to change out flooring displays as required to keep product offerings current and on-trend for its residential and commercial clientele.
It was determined a black and white palette would best serve as a neutral, serene backdrop to the many variations of flooring options within the displays and the products themselves. The showroom was divided into sections based on the structure of the existing building, which allows customers to focus on a certain type of flooring product without becoming overwhelmed by too many offerings. Adding to the user experience, room scenes were established to aid customers in visualizing the products in their own space. These areas also aid in wayfinding, providing circulation routes within the showroom. The lighting approach takes on a residential focus in key areas, such as the reception, lounges, kitchenettes and coffee serveries, while the display units are highlighted with retail track lighting for accurate colour renderings of products. The sales associates’ touchdown desk is highly visible and flanked by large acoustic pendants to aid in easing client conversations within an open space.
Wood was intentionally incorporated into much of the showroom for its beauty, to balance the black and white palette, add warmth and showcase the diversity and impact wood flooring products can have on a space, particularly those provided by Ritchie’s. For these reasons, wood was not only used on the floors but also for the custom millwork, manufactured and installed by Provincial Woodworkers, which, coincidentally, is located in the same industrial park; in the construction of case goods; and on ceilings and walls. White oak flooring can be found underfoot on both the main and second floors, supplied by Karastan and Melmart, respectively. However, the most visible wood feature element is the dropped ceilings wrapped with pre-engineered medium-toned oak flooring by Fuzion Flooring, which contrasts with the black open plenum ceiling. Different installation patterns — vertical, horizontal and angled — were also used throughout the showroom to demonstrate wood’s versatility and how this natural material can impart a particular overall look and feel depending on how it’s installed. Ritchie’s completed the wood installation on floors, staircases, walls and ceilings to illustrate the quality of its trained and experienced installation crew.
Opened now for more than a year, Ritchie’s Dartmouth location has been well-received by its professional clientele and the general public for the showroom’s one-of-a-kind retail design, extensive stocked inventory and, perhaps most notably, its products’ value for money, 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee and top-notch customer service that the fourth-generation family-owned and operated business is known for. Unsurprisingly, Ritchie’s is considering further expansion plans — the flooring retailer’s other locations are in Moncton and Saint John, N.B. — though its goal of becoming a household name in the Maritimes was achieved long ago.
Founded in 1966, by father and son John and Daryl Ritchie, the duo’s big vision quickly outgrew their original, small Saint John warehouse in which they worked. Thanks to their honest hearts and trustworthiness — traits passed on from one generation to the next and instilled in current owners (and grandsons/sons) Daryl Jr., Trevor and Adam — people flocked to the flooring store, fuelling its rapid growth. Today, Ritchie’s is among the largest independent flooring retailers in Atlantic Canada. With approximately 200,000 square feet of combined floor space, the company’s 110 team members and more than 100 subcontracted installation technicians collaboratively work together to deliver the same ‘old-fashioned’ service Ritche’s was established on nearly 60 years ago.