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Grocery Big Bear

Warehouse style Big Bear Stores
benefit from prismatic lighting

Customers are in for a visual treat when they shop the new Big Bear Stores located in central Ohio. The stores are open and airy, highlighted with four-color murals, neon signage, and accent lighting above areas such as the bakery, produce cases and salad bar.

Tile ceilings in the new stores are 20 to 22 feet high, painted gray. Bright red duct work crisscrosses the ceiling, dding interest to the steel deck structure.

According to Phil Williams, Big Bear Company facilities engineer, the company's move to the colorful new "open concept" is A bold statement change. While Big Bear did not particularly want its stores to look like warehouses, management did want to open up the ceiling and add interest to the stores, which seems to be a trend within the supermarket industry.

In moving to an open ceiling, Big Bear faced lighting challenges that were new to the chain. Other existing Big Bear Stores, with ceiling heights from 12 to 16 feet, are lighted with strip or 2 x 4 fluorescent fixtures. But because of the higher ceilings in the new structures, lighting fixtures were needed that would not only illuminate the ceiling, but would provide the vertical and horizontal footcandles needed on the floor .

The fixtures installed are Holophane Prismalume luminaires with 400 watt metal halide lamps. One of the main benefits of the prismatic glass fixtures is the 20 percent uplight.

"We wanted to get enough light on the ceiling to illuminate the steel duct work, " Williams said. "We were also concerned with aesthetics in the stores and felt that Holophane offers the most attractive fixtures on the market. "

Big Bear basically has two store prototypes. The first is 57,000 square feet, with the second 43, 000 square feet . In some markets, the larger prototype is being expanded to 70,000, and in smaller markets, the 43,000-square-foot store is being scaled down further to 35,000 square feet. Even though the size of these locations may vary, the stores still have the same service departments, including a bakery, delicatessen, seafood shop, butcher shop, floral department and pharmacy.

Big Bear's stores in Gahanna and on Sawmill Road in Columbus are both 57,000 square feet. Although the original lighting design for these stores was created using Holophane's Computer Aided Lighting Analysis (CALA) software, Williams said actual] fixture placement and spacing was sometimes a result of "trial and error. " With a mounting height of 17 feet, spacing in most stores is 11 feet, on center.

"Some of our stores-particularly the 43,000-square-foot locations-have unique lighting problems because on the warehouse racking used for shelving in the grocery display area. Often, boxes are placed on top of the racking, which tend to block the light. In stores where this was a problem, we had to realign the fixtures so they were in the center of the aisles to achieve proper light distribution, " Williams explained.

Lighting uniformity was a primary concern. Because the stores use scanners to read the prices on products, it is important that customers be able to read the price labels on the shelving.

"As the lighting design evolved, we added fixtures in key areas so customers could read the shelf tag moldings on the bottom shelves without crouching or getting on their hands and knees, " Williams said.

At the Gahanna location, one objective was to make the various departments within the stores as warm and inviting as possible. With the open ceilings in the main sales area, dropped 2' x 4' accoustical tile ceilings were installed around the store perimeters and above the service departments to bring the ceiling closer to the customers. Fluorescent fixtures are used to illuminate these areas.

Incandescent lamps at both the Gahanna and Columbus stores are used to boost light levels in the produce and meat cases. Floodlights further illuminate the four color murals along the ceiling perimeter. Neon signage is used to identify individual departments.

"The whole look is unique, " Williams said. "The Prismalumes add a kind of sparkle to the stores that just is not possible with fluorescent fixtures alone."

According to Williams, outside electricians will be used to make maintenance related fixture replacements, including ballasts and lamps. Although Big Bear presently does not have a regular maintenance schedule in place, Williams said he expects relamping to be done every 30 to 36 months.

To date, Big Bear Stores Company, headquartered in Columbus, has installed Holophane Prismalume luminaires in 12 of its Central Ohio locations. Fixture numbers range from 100 to 130, depending on the store size. Footcandle levels are 100 maintained.


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