It was 2008 when we received a call from Center Line Design and Construction in Florida. Paul from Centerline was inquiring about painting the retail stores of Lululemon in Toronto. In 2008 Lululemon was this trendy, yoga-inspired, apparel company. They had locations in major shopping malls and some busy street locations. We agreed to quote and we ended up painting most of their GTA locations.
They were in the Eaton’s Centre, Vaughan Mills, The Promenade, Yorkdale, Scarborough Town, Mississauga and Oshawa Centres. The street locations were on Queen Street, in Oakville, Yonge Street and on Bloor Street.
Every fall and spring they changed colours to reflect their fashion trends. The colours were hot pinks, lime greens, aqua blues, purples and oranges. So cool and bright, you might have been lucky to find these colours on a popsicle. Exactly what the doctor ordered for us bored painters. The cure for the “builder’s beige” syndrome was finally here. This sounded like exciting work for our commercial painters, was there a catch?
- The timeline. All locations had to be painted in about a week’s time. Yes, all of them, from Oshawa to Oakville then Downtown to Vaughan in about a week. How was this even possible without closing the stores? The good news was that they did not paint the entire stores, just a few sections each time.
- Night work. All of the painting was taking place after hours. Their closing time was 9 pm during the week and 6 pm on weekends. We literally had just a few hour to prep, paint and clean up before the store opened for business in the morning. We painted the bigger stores during the weekends to take advantage of the early closing times. The staff was helpful and prepared the areas for us, as we were not allowed to handle any merchandise.
These Zero VOC Paints were made for Quick Dry and Low Odour
The customer had strong environmental policies and they were committed to reducing their ecological footprint. That worked just perfect for Ecopainting and our eco friendly mandate. The colours were selected from Benjamin Moore’s collection. On the first few projects we used their Ecospec zero VOC line. (Update: The Ecospec line is discontinued and replaced by UltraSpec 500). This was around the time Benjamin Moore introduced their game changing Aura and Natura paints. Both Aura and Natura had low and zero VOC and used the new Gennex colourants. The Gennex colourants are waterbourne and replace the old universal colourant system. By using the Gennex system, paints with dark colours hide better, without adding extra VOC to the mix.
Considering the colours we were using, Aura could not have come out at a better time. We used mostly the matte and eggshell sheen. Our first experience with it was nothing short of mind blowing! The performance was like nothing we used before. The smell was minimal and the paint was extremely durable, even in the busy change rooms. We ended up using considerably less paint, by eliminating the extra coats, previously necessary with such colours. Despite Aura’s expensive price tag, we came out ahead.
Painting with efficiency and speed
At closing, after the last few customers were walking out, our painters were arriving with paints and ladders in hand. As we were unloading, the store personnel was moving all merchandise away from the walls. We had to be moving fast, masking and covering. Holes, cracks and imperfections had to be patched quickly, sanded and spot-primed. Stains had to be washed and sometimes spot-primed with specialty primers. This blur of useful activity was actually very organized. Repetition will do that for you any time.
After everything was clean and dry, the painting started! We applied two or three coats of bright colours in just a few hours. We finished just in time to start cleaning up, before the morning shift came in.
We weren’t able to wash our tools at the end of the day. The stores had very small sinks and we were very short on time. We wrapped our brushes and rollers in plastic and took them to the next location, hoping that the colours were going to be the same.
Driving home in the early morning we were tired but surprisingly awake. Maybe it was all that intense colour therapy that we exposed our bodies to.
So many stores – So little time!
Some of the stores were bigger than others. The biggest ones were in the Sheridan Mall and Mississauga Square. The city street locations on Yonge street and the one in Yorkville were much smaller. The busiest one was located on the trendy section of Queen Street west. Being an older building, it had a different design, with a basement level for meeting rooms and utility areas. Most locations were painted in one night, with some exceptions when the scope of work was bigger. For example, using many colours or including the change rooms was more time consuming.
Painting at Lululemon was one of the most significant projects in the history of Ecopainting. Our painters at the time met the unique challenge successfully and enjoyed the experience.
Update: We don’t paint for Lululemon currently but have since painted for other major retailers.
Are you in search of a painting company to service the retail sector in the GTA? Ecopainting is fully capable of servicing the needs of the commercial customer. Our sustainable painting policies along with our trained painters make us a great choice. Call us at 416 733-7767 to discuss your painting needs with one of our representatives.
This project blog was first published on: Jun 12, 2013 and recently updated on March 22 2017.