Signs of the times – Grocery signage adapt to supermarket trends

As our supermarket customers adapt to changing consumer behaviors and preferences, their store signage is changing too.

There are supermarket design trends that the pundits and prognosticators have talked about for a while now playing out in the grocery signage we manufacture for our customers. And then there are retail store signage changes driven by the global pandemic that no one could have predicted.

Below are some of the trends we see in grocery design and signage in 2021:

  1. Smaller format grocery stores

Digital disruption in the grocery store business has been predicted for years, but 2020 finally brought the issue to a head. Now that online grocery store shopping is more prevalent among consumers, retailers are rethinking the layout and design of their physical locations.

It’s the ‘less is more theory.’ At CIP Retail, we are working on several retail store designs for customers in the process of shrinking their total store square footage to provide their customers with a simpler, faster shopping experience.

Sprouts is a good example, recently revealing to Winsight Grocery Business their plans to shrink their new stores from 30,000 square feet to less than 25,000 square feet. Lidl, the German grocer, is another excellent example. They tout easy-to-shop stores with just six aisles.

Smaller format stores serve several purposes, including reducing consumer confusion with too many options to choose from and making the shopping experience quicker and easier. Another benefit of fewer SKUs in the grocery store is more efficient supply chain operations. Numerous brands discovered this during the pandemic, reducing the variety of products they offered within a category to focus on keeping store shelves stocked with their best-selling items.

As online grocery shopping continues to ramp up, we may see other changes as well. For instance, grocery stores need more space for picking and packing online orders. Utilizing store square footage for order fulfillment rather than retail display and sales is an option many operators are looking at.

  1. Using existing commercial real estate

Instead of building new supermarkets from the ground up, another trend we see among our grocery store customers is a willingness to renovate existing commercial real estate options.

We see more and more of our supermarket customers taking advantage of abandoned strip mall spaces and reinventing these buildings to serve the local communities with in-demand services such as restaurants and organic groceries.

These commercial real estate options allow grocers to put their stores in closer proximity to their target shoppers in many cases.

At CIP, we specialize in helping our customers adapt their retail decor packages to fit into non-standard architectural designs seamlessly.

  1. Contactless shopping

Contactless shopping was in its infancy pre-pandemic, but we anticipate it is a trend that is here to stay even as pandemic social distancing orders come to an end.

According to Grocery Dive, some grocers saw curbside pickup service increase by more than 1000% during the height of the pandemic.

Experiences like buying online and pickup in-store or curbside pickup are quick and convenient for consumers – IF the correct signage is in place telling shoppers where to park, who to call, what to do, and where to go.

  1. Signage that drives people to digital

Another signage trend is the need for more wayfinding signage related to a supermarket’s digital technology. For example, store aisle signs that encourage customers to download the store’s app for easier service or coupons and discounts is prevalent today.

QR code signage is another important tool for grocers. This signage gives customers instant access to information they need on their cell phone rather than touching a grimy kiosk or tracking down a store employee. Customers can scan the QR codes to bring up a map of the store, locate hard-to-find items, or quickly place online orders for out-of-stock items.

Part of the fun of designing, engineering, and manufacturing retail store signage and décor for supermarket chains across the country is the opportunity to see these supermarket store trends play out right before our eyes on our factory floor.

CIP Retail helps our grocery store customers transform their retail spaces’ look, feel, and function to adapt to changing consumer preferences and behaviors. We create beautiful spaces with maximum impact through the design, engineering, manufacturing, and installation of retail décor and signage.

From small requests to chain-wide rollouts, CIP is here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

A Nationally Televised Décor Debut from Duquesne University

Duquesne University’s newly remodeled UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse made its national debut on ESPNU when the Duquesne Dukes men’s basketball team hosted the Dayton Flyers on February 2.

While most people watched the action on the floor, we were admiring the vibrant décor and graphics throughout the new fieldhouse. Everything visible to the fan – from the vinyl logos on the court to the directional signage throughout the fieldhouse – was part of an exciting partnership between CIP Retail, ChangeUp retail design out of Dayton, Ohio, and Duquesne University.

Phase I of the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse renovation was preparing the main arena, concessions, and weight room areas for players and fans.

We love executing an excellent design concept. In addition to manufacturing and installing all the directional signage, wall lettering, wall vinyl, floor logos, and Hall of Fame graphics, we also flew in our in-house artist to create an extra-special wall treatment in the weight room.

After covering the back wall of the weight room with a squared-off corrugated metal, we projected an image of the Dukes’ mascot onto the wall. Then our artist hand-painted the image onto the metal, airbrushing it for dramatic effect.

Phase II of the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse renovation project is underway, updating the locker rooms and the athletic offices. About 8,000 sq. ft. of vinyl wall covering shipped out from our Cincinnati facility to install and complete the project, just in time for graduation ceremonies at the Fieldhouse.

The UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse will serve as the home for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Duquesne and the volleyball team.

CIP Retail is a turnkey firm specializing in design, engineering, manufacturing, and interior retail décor installation.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can turn your project into reality.

Reinvigorating a New Restaurant’s Walls

Retail store signage comes in all shapes and sizes. In restaurants, commercial-grade printed wall vinyl is especially popular. The restaurant wall vinyl used in this project is a thick, textured Type II wallcovering that helps hide imperfections in the drywall. You can print almost any type of color or pattern on the wall vinyl you desire.

Our client Dragon City provided the designs you see here for its new restaurant opening in Florence, Kentucky, on Houston Road.

We took on two projects: Manufacture and install the restaurant’s wall vinyl, as well as repurpose large, existing light fixtures to be high design but budget friendly.

Manufacturing of the wall vinyl took two to three weeks, and the installation took about three to four days. Proper installation of wall vinyl is an art in and of itself and one of the most important parts of the job. The patterns and verbiage need to line up perfectly for a professional finish. You also don’t want to see any seams or bubbles in the vinyl.

Our second job was repurposing its three three-foot-diameter light fixtures. Rather than purchasing new light fixtures, we removed the acrylic from the existing fixtures, took it back to our shop, and drew it up to make a cut file that would fit perfectly in the fixture. We printed a new Dragon City logoed acrylic, cut it, and laid it back into the existing lights.

For the client, this is a couple of thousand-dollar savings over buying new lighting fixtures.

A Second Life for Leftover Foam Board

Even when our CEO Kathy Huff steps out onto the back deck of her home, she is never far from the company she and her husband Tom founded more than 45 years ago. Part of CIP Retail may be right under her foot — literally.

Kathy’s deck is made of a composite decking material that offers a long-lasting, sustainable alternative to wood. TimberTech deck boards are comprised of up to 80 percent recycled materials.

And some of these recycled materials are provided courtesy of CIP Retail as part of an innovative sustainability partnership we have with our PVC foam board supplier, Vycom.

Thanks a million

PVC foam board is one of the primary materials we use to manufacture retail store signage.

We estimate we make around 1 million signs every year used in retail store designs and supermarket designs worldwide.

Every month, we collect enough PVC scrap from our manufacturing facility to fill a 53-foot semi-trailer. This scrap would have ended up in a landfill if not for this fantastic recycling program.

In fact, since the start of the program, we’ve reduced our dumpster hauls by 40 percent.

“We’ve wanted to be a part of a recycling program like this for several years, but most manufacturers would only recycle unprinted material. That made it difficult for us to participate since almost all the PVC we use has been printed on,” says Jeff Miller, director of purchasing.

But it was a no-brainer to join the program when printed materials also were accepted.

Aware of the world

One of our core values at CIP Retail is to be “Aware of the World.”

What we mean by this is that we need to utilize the most eco-friendly materials and processes to minimize our footprint and conserve our natural resources. Participating in this recycling program is one way we stay true to that core value.

Our employees at CIP Retail are responsible for collecting and loading the PVC scraps for recycling. There are Gaylords – 4ft. X 4ft. boxes – and pallets at every workstation where PVC foam board is printed and routed.

The small scraps are tossed into the Gaylords. The larger chunks and skeletons are placed on the pallets, banded up, and shrink-wrapped for transport.

Once our team has filled about 20 Gaylords and a couple of pallets, it is time for the materials to head out for their chance at a new life. It takes our team about an hour to load up the semi-truck.

“It gives us such a sense of pride to know we are doing the right thing. It’s so much better to see all of that material leaving our facility in a semi-truck rather than an open-top dumpster container,” says Jeff.

The theme of this year’s Earth Day is Restore Our Earth.

“As the world returns to normal, we can’t go back to business-as-usual,” says, the official organizer of Earth Day on April 22.

At CIP Retail, we will do our part. We will continue to work with partners who share our value of maintaining sustainable business practices and responsibly using our resources.

You can learn more about the Vycom PVC Recycling program on their website.

If you’d like to learn more about working with CIP Retail for retail design consulting and manufacturing services, please contact us at

CIP welcomes new COO, Mark Schoettmer

Mark Schoettmer is a Cincinnati native with four decades of diverse athletic, personal, and professional business experiences under his belt. So naturally, our first question to him was: “Where did you go to school?”

Mark is a St. Xavier guy who went on to play football and baseball for the Duke Blue Devils. Mark played quarterback and had the privilege of backing up a player who completed his college career as the top passer in the history of NCAA Division I-A football (Ben Bennett).

Now Mark is playing for the CIP Retail team. We are thrilled to add him to the roster as our new Chief Operating Officer.

As COO, Mark’s job is to help CIP Retail leverage our people, processes, and technology in a way that optimizes operations throughout the organization and drives extensive and sustainable growth. It’s a role Mark has successfully undertaken before as Chief HR Officer and VP of Strategy for Cincinnati-based manufacturer Enerfab.

“It’s amazing how the stars align when you’re supposed to be somewhere,” Mark said about the opportunity to join CIP. “To find an environment with an interesting business model and good people involved — that’s the four-leaf clover.”

“We are so pleased to welcome Mark to the team,” said CEO Kathy Huff. “He is such a great culture fit for our organization and passionate about helping us develop our people and processes.”

And speaking of people and processes, Mark’s first executive decision: Bagel Fridays coming soon. Team always comes first

Supermarket Design Shows Off Small-Town Charm

The first settlers of Rising Sun, Indiana, included Samuel Fulton’s family, uncle to steamboat inventor Robert Fulton. Quite fittingly, a steamboat casino parked on the Ohio River banks is one of the town’s most popular attractions. Rising Sun may be located in the smallest county in Indiana, but it attracts a big crowd.

One of this quaint town’s busiest supermarkets is family-run Rising Sun IGA. The store is only nine aisles wide, but its idyllic location, friendly staff, and excellent butcher shop make it a popular stop for tourists and locals alike.

Ray of Sunshine

Our goal with this grocery store interior design project was to enhance the supermarket’s homey, welcoming feel. We designed helpful store aisle signs and retail décor featuring the golden rays of the rising sun.


Delicious sun-ripened fruits and vegetables on the retail aisle markers direct shoppers to the store’s garden-fresh, local produce.


Mouthwatering Meats

The most prominent imagery along the back wall highlights the store’s specialty – its premium quality meats. Our design consultant Tom hasn’t stopped raving about the cut of filet mignon he and his family enjoyed from the store.


Hometown Heritage

Finally, the supermarket décor pays homage to the community’s most valuable resources – its stunning location on the Ohio River banks, its beautiful views of the rising sun over Kentucky hills, and its hardworking people.

CIP Retail is a turnkey firm specializing in design, engineering, manufacturing, and interior retail décor installation. CIP Retail helps you connect with your customers from local gems like Rising Sun IGA to nationwide chain rollouts. Contact us today to learn more about how we can turn your project into reality.