The Dream Showroom

Key factors to creating an ideal retail space
Emily Kay Thompson
June 22, 2015
FEATURE ARTICLE | Sales & Marketing

Strategic Design

Dream Elements
Accessibility to Product/Product Education

Somerville Aluminum

Branchburg, New Jersey


“Everything’s so stressful in life,” Somerville Aluminum’s Gary Shiman points out. “Let’s not make buying windows stressful.”

This is the principle behind the relocation and redesign of the company’s showroom. Originally in a prime location right along Main Street in Somerville, New Jersey, the original building was a decent size but not user friendly. “The usable space was about as inefficient as you could get,” Shiman recalls. “There was no flow left to right or front to back.” He says they made do with what they had as it was “the old school philosophy.”

“What people are looking for is accessibility, making the experience easier, not harder,” he says. “So why would we make it harder with parking, for example?” That notion of convenience was the catalyst to look for a building that had customer parking and retail space with a large showroom.

The company hired an architect and a design consultant to help pin down what they were trying to capture as a customer experience. The result is a design that reflects their thinking. Now, Shiman says that, when people come into the showroom, “They’re blown away.”

“It’s amazing what we managed to put into a 5,000-square-foot showroom.” You have to be able to show product, Shiman says, which means deciding how many permutations, colors, styles, etc. “You can fill up space pretty quick. I’m proud of maintaining that stylish environment while displaying a lot of product that people can touch, feel and make decisions on.”

Thompson is editor in chief of Window + Door,, and WDweekly. Write her at