The refurbished Links Co Op is a pleasant improvement over the old one. Well I should hope so, otherwise what's the point in a refurb? Removing the product shot window vinyls has improved visibility into the shop and thus makes it look more inviting. Moving BWS (beers, wines & spirits), and having a mid-floor wine display in the window adds to this enticement.
The F&V (fruit & veg), offer seems to have expanded, or maybe I'm imagining it? Walking straight from the Links boulevard into the 'fresh zone' is always a good thing. A really nice touch is adding two product categories - Wholefoods and Free From on the shelf ends. This may be lost on most shoppers, but I'm really pleased to see that these are here. They tip the balance from Co Op lurking in the Londis/Costcutter bracket and moving into being a proper supermarket. Love it.
The lowered ceiling makes a huge difference to the feel of the store. It's cosier (well, cosy in supermarket terms), and the lighting seems better on the eye. They could have mixed lighting accents through the categories, but hey ho. Looks like exterior signage has yet to be installed, or is the exposed cabling a feature?
Having shopped, I was just disappointed by the state of the checkouts. I'd walked around a refurbished store with new fixtures, layout, graphic treatments, lighting, then at the final hurdle was tripped up by old tills. The belts still had graffiti on them for God sake. This is a pretty big deal and simple to address too. Just change the belts or clean the graffiti off maybe? Detail, detail, detail. Come on people!!!!
My final point is not of disappointment, but I feel a loss from this store. The old store had a prayer box by the notice boards. I never understood why this was there. In my past, I'd seen lots of collection boxes in supermarkets, like the 1950's looking blind boy with a dog - a guide dog I guess. This was a nice looking object, then there are those hideous UFO dishes with the swirling red & white pattern - pop a coin in the slot and it will swirl around the shallow cone (like the water swirling into a plug-hole - Hitchcock did a great homage to this in Psycho - ed.), eventually dropping in the hole in the centre. These have featured in supermarkets, but a prayer box? Do people kneel and say a few words next to the fire extinguisher?
I like it though.