What’s a vanilla shell?
The vanilla shell is a term we use to describe an empty retail space that is ready to move in to. The level of finish within the industry varies but it should always be a space that doesn’t need extensive rework before installing your specific finishes and fixtures. At DMD, we encourage most clients to specify the vanilla shell package within their lease documents for the main purpose of controlling their store program and roll-out costs.
When rolling out a store design across the country, it’s important to control as much as possible, and remove variables and unknowns where ever possible. Construction always has a certain level of unknowns and isn’t always easy to control unless you are the one actually doing the renovation, so DMD sets up roll out programs to get as much of the control in the client’s hands as possible. This means moving fabrication and labour to the fixture vendors and away from the general contractor wherever feasible. This means the design can be mass produced in a factory or millwork shop, rather than constructed by different trades under different unions and labour rates all across the country. The end result is a store that fits on a truck and is made by the same people every time. The level of finish and quality is consistent and controllable, and it aids in store planning and layout.
Shifting responsibility into a controlled environment means defining a standard building shell that is required to receive all the fixtures and finishes, that is what we call the vanilla shell. In an ideal scenario, the vanilla shell is a simple enough design that the LL can do the work and have the space ready to hand over and move in.
DMD’s experience and approach to planning has allowed retailers of all sizes to open and/or renovate stores on a large scale with great success!
Below is an example of a retail space for lease that could open up a ‘can of worms’ during construction due to hidden issues and lack of specific tenant requests to the landlord.
Bellow is an example of a great vanilla shell. The landlord will have it swept clean and ready for finishes and fixtures on the possession date, aiding in a smooth and predictable store build.