Aaron Kraw and Justin Jarin knew Park Social had to be something special.
While it was one of the first adult-use stores to open in Alameda and was occupying one of the city’s most recognizable downtown buildings, it was also a homecoming of sorts for the two co-founders.
“This project was our baby,” Jarin says. “I’ve been in this industry for 20 years, so having a shop in my hometown is kind of the crown jewel of my career.”
Kraw says they wanted the store to stand out but feel “distinctly Alameda,” as a way of paying homage to the city. After working in the industry for decades and seeing the rising competition, Jarin knew exactly who he envisioned taking on the project for the design and branding.
“I have been following SevenPoint for about five years on Instagram and I just really appreciated what they were doing, being really creative and giving something different,” Jarin says. “So I reached out and let them know we were interested.”
Desmond Chan, the creative director for SevenPoint Interiors, a multi-award-winning and industry leading retail design and manufacturing company focused on the cannabis industry, says the project “was a natural fit for us to collaborate on both their branding and interior design.”
“For Park Social, it was important to make a memorable shopping experience that was relevant to the store’s location and heritage, and it all started with the right brand identity,” Chan says.
Building a Familiar Identity
According to SevenPoint Interiors head of design Randy Simmen, the key to making a strong first and lasting impression for any customer is creating a brand identity that is in unison with the store’s design.
“The logo identity is the face of the company and the in-store branding elements are the important touch points that will differentiate you from your competitors,” Simmen says. “When your brand’s image is consistent, from the sign on your storefront to the paper bag you carry out to the street with your purchase, you are building brand loyalty with new and returning customers.”
For Park Social, the touchstone for that identity was rooted in Alameda, a city famed for its boardwalk and vacation homes in the early 1900s and then redefined by its Art Deco and Art Moderne architecture in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Those elements can be found throughout the store from the numerous vertical lines to the bending curves of the Art Moderne styled fixtures, as well as in the company’s logo and the classic lettering used for signage.
Jano Badovinac, the lead interior designer for the project, says Alameda’s history was a source of inspiration for the design, as was the Alameda Theatre, an Art Deco movie theatre built in 1932, and the store location itself.
“Located in a historic district, the 1222 Park St. location is a prime example of the continuity of community traditions — a Moderne style commercial architecture of the 1930s to ‘40s,” Badovinac says.
Kraw and Jarin were floored by the design.
“We wanted to go with the historical look of things to keep that feel to the town and to bring it back to where everybody was going to be happy with what we did and what our design was,” Kraw says. “SevenPoint hit it out of the park.”
Among the many eye-drawing elements at play in Park Social’s brand and design, the most prominent is arguably the glowing marquee that stretches into the downtown skyline.
“When we first laid eyes on the façade of Park Social, it was clear we needed to preserve the marquee sign, which set the tone to continue along the Moderne/Art Deco theme for both the brand identity and interiors,” Chan says.
Simmen says the building’s exterior led the team in several creative choices.
“The façade directly inspired the aesthetic and branding,” Simmen says. “We wanted to stay true to the original signage but give it a modern twist by rotating the wordmark.”
The design team kept the exterior colors neutral to give emphasis to the interior design, visible through the large front windows. The round, fluted-glass window was used as a point of interest and the awnings were added to give a touch of retro functionality, Badovinac says.
The marquee on the exterior of Park Social is like a beacon in the downtown neighborhood, which is heavily populated with foot traffic due to the nearby attractions, including the beach, restaurants, shopping centers and movie theaters. After the store opened on March 25, 2023, the owners noticed that new customers have consistently accounted for a little more than 40% of the store’s daily visitors.
“They come in and just stop,” Kraw says. “They’re like, ‘Wow, this is really something.’”
For the owners of Park Social, the space is both an ode to their hometown and an opportunity to give back to the community. In its short history, Park Social has donated to the Alameda Food Bank, Meals on Wheels and the local fire department’s annual toy drive. The company is currently planning fundraising events like golf tournaments and volunteer events such as a beach cleanup.
Created for Consumption
Most of the brand and design were aimed to celebrate Alameda’s past, but the keyhole entryway inside Park Social may very well lead to its future as the first consumption space in the city. When Alameda approved cannabis retail stores in the city, it also included on-site consumption in the ordinance. Having a space already mapped out and ready for consumption was something Jarin and Kraw wanted.
“Having the store be a place to gather socially was one of the clients’ first asks,” Simmen says. “Hence the name ‘Park Social.’”
Knowing this was the intent, SevenPoint made sure to include space for the lounge at the front of the store in the layout. The area reserved for the lounge capitalized on the natural light coming through fluted-glass window at the front of the store and the arched keyhole entryway was chosen to maintain the theme of the interior design while also clearly separating the space from the salesfloor.
While the building’s exterior is undoubtedly drawing passersby into the store, its captivating interior design compels them to explore the space. The warm lighting the designers chose for Park Social’s ambient and illuminated fixtures set the mood and add a dash of drama to the space. The lighting was strategically applied to fixtures such as the point-of-sales counter, island product display fixture and flower viewing station to highlight products and guide customers through the store.
Chan says the idea behind the sales counter was to create a visual hierarchy within the retail space that would stand out and complement the rest of the fixtures.
“To further enhance the area, we leaned into the symmetry and geometry of the shapes — both techniques are used prominently in Deco detailing,” Chan says. “The sand-colored rings are meant to emulate plaster details found in many Art Deco buildings.”
The design team used the structural support pillars in the middle of the sales floor to create the island product display counter while adding a familiar visual element that was easily repeated and carried into different sections of the store.
“The column details were directly inspired by palm trees,” Badovinac says. “Structurally, they could not be moved so we felt it was best to make them a feature.”
The flower viewing fixtures are SevenPoint’s Capsule 1.0. The mounted stainless-steel viewing devices have sensory valves that automatically open when rotated up and include a moisture pack chamber to keep products fresh, as well as tamper-proof magnifying lenses and swappable placards that detail all the flower’s vital information.
“The Capsule 1.0 is an elevated flower display that takes full advantage of our metal fabrication expertise,” Simmen says. “This feature fit perfectly with Park Social’s high-end, luxury approach to their retail experience.”
SevenPoint’s state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities give the company an unparalleled level of flexibility and creativity for operators. Those capabilities, combined with the company’s creative process — which starts by identifying the scope of the project and creating a timeline for targeted milestones that is revisited on a weekly basis — allow the company to create “an environment for collaboration and shared understanding that ensures we move through every step aligned and poised for success,” Simmen says.
Beyond the finished product, the Park Social owners were impressed with SevenPoint’s ability to not only create the right look and feel, but to bring the design to life.
“SevenPoint built everything in the store from the ground up.” Kraw says. “Every idea they came up with, we were just like, ‘Wow, that’s exactly what we were saying,’ and then they would just run with it.”