By Doug Donaldson –
This past September, TAL Building Centers unveiled the redesigned Browne’s Home Center in Friday Harbor, Wash., which incorporated striking design elements such as the exterior wooden slats.
As a second act to winning the Beacon Award for Best New Store for its Tum-A-Lum Lumber location, TAL Building Centers recently celebrated the grand opening of its reimagined and redesigned Browne’s Home Center in Friday Harbor, Wash.
On September 15, Browne’s hosted a grand reopening with a VIP Night and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The following day, more than 500 customers showed up during festivities, which included a free barbecue lunch, product demonstrations, kids’ activities and raffle prizes.
Browne’s new entrance and checkout area are conducive to customers who want to get in and out quickly. The floor plan makes the most of the store’s long, narrow space.
The new building is a substantial expansion from the previous incarnation. The updated retail areas more than doubled in size from 14,000 square feet to 28,450 square feet. The redesigned store includes a full-service paint center, specialized contractor areas along with more robust assortments in core categories such as electrical, plumbing, tools and lawn and garden. Other product lines that were expanded include clothing, home goods, marine, pet supplies and RV. The store also includes a 27,000-square-foot, all-organic garden center.
“This is more than just a renovation for Browne’s Home Center; it’s a demonstration of our investment in the community,” says TAL Building Centers CEO Jason Blair. “By expanding our offerings and enhancing our service areas, we’re enriching the customer experience and reinforcing our commitment to the people of Friday Harbor and the San Juan Islands.”
Island Store Challenges
TAL Building Centers acquired Browne’s Home Center in 2017, and the store redesign process began in earnest in March 2022. The redesign of Browne’s was ambitious. The project enclosed formerly open breezeways and a pole barn under one roof.
For the Browne’s remodel design, TAL partnered with award-winning Graham Baba Architects. Design and permitting was finished by the end of 2022, and construction began in January 2023.
More than 500 people attended Browne’s Home Center’s grand reopening, which included product demonstrations, raffle prizes and games for kids.
Logistics became one of the biggest challenges for this redesign. Browne’s Home Center is on San Juan Island, a 621-square-mile island with 8,000 residents about 107 miles north of Seattle and closer to the Canadian border than to the United States mainland. Semi-trailers can’t drop off building materials at the jobsite. Each trailer of building material—both for stocking the store’s assortment and for materials needed for the renovations—has to be unloaded from semi-trailers, repacked in smaller shipping containers and ferried to the island. To smooth the construction process TAL Building Centers even developed its own transportation system.
In addition to island ferry logistics, TAL contends with Northwest weather. The store exterior could not be painted until the rain tapered off, about mid-September. While redesigning the store, Browne’s Home Center remained open with shelving being moved around as needed like a retail hardware Tetris game.
Taking a cue from TAL Building Centers’ other locations, even imagery on the company’s trucks conveys a modern design aesthetic.