Last November, Fort Worth, Texas-based Larry's Shoes added a heavy dose of polish to its retail presentation culminating in a new prototype store located in Denver. Elliot Goodwin, president of the 13-store chain, says that in addition to selling shoes, the new store further integrates its customers' lifestyles into the Larry's Shoes retail experience.

"We are trying to build Larry's as a retail brand," Goodwin says. Although the company reports that most men's shoe stores average 1,500 sq. ft., Larry's Shoes stretches approximately 11,000 sq. ft. and houses more than 20,000 pairs of shoes from various vendors.

New store design touches add light, volume and depth to the large selling space. Throughout the store, back-lit graphics and columns and specialty niche product displays continue to tell the Larry's story, highlighting such topics as fit, selection and price. And to reinforce the message that Larry's has been in business for nearly 50 years, the store also features timeline exhibits displaying the types of dress shoes and athletic footwear it has sold through the years.

"Our new position is more than just a look," he says. "It's getting back to communicating what Larry's is all about and bringing back the elements customers appreciated when the first Larry's Shoes opened [in 1949]."

One of the main goals was to emphasize identity, says Bob Welty, creative director of retail environments for Chute Gerdeman, Columbus, Ohio. "Our goal was to reorganize existing, [in-store] shops in a manner that made more sense for Larry's," he says.

Since the company's primary identity has always been dress shoes, Welty says, they were given the spotlight in the center of the store. The store vendor shops, Timberland, Nike and Rockport, are given their own design elements including signage and overhead canopies.

The Timberland area, for example, sports a 20-ft. waterfall and stone fireplace. The rest of the store features an athletic area accented by wall murals; lifestyle photography; and a series of transparent, back-lit panels in the ceiling over the dress shoe section.

In the "Extreme Area," a white water kayak display along with outdoor merchandise suchas binoculars and backpacks are used to entice customers. "Each of the different areas in the store has a different feeling and attitude," says Denny Gerdeman, principal of Chute Gerdeman.

Different flooring materials also help distinguish between the various areas, adds Welty. For example, he says, the dress shoe area features heavily padded carpet while the Nike shop features a tread plate, industrial-type flooring.

Larry's Shoes plans to reposition the rest of its stores by introducing the new brand message through graphics and other changes, Goodwin says. He adds that the company's five top stores will be remodeled by the end of next year.

"With our 50-year anniversary coming up," Goodwin says, "we want to make big splashes in key stores."