Title:
System and method for localizing a zone
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
System and method for localizing a zone wherein wall modules, terminator support modules, column modules and spanner modules are arranged to define one or more zone boundaries. The modules are structured as polymeric shells. The wall modules and terminator support modules are configured with integrally formed tongue-and-groove joints and when used with outdoor zones may be filled with a ballast such as a liquid. The columns are configured with receptor cavities at their tops to receive roof-defining canopy structures, sight simulators and the like.



Inventors:
Dascenzo, William Anthony (Sarasota, FL, US)
Baughman III, George Washington (Worthington, OH, US)
Kern, Kristin D. (Marysville, OH, US)
Wood, Larry L. (Columbus, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/201346
Publication Date:
12/29/2005
Filing Date:
08/10/2005
Assignee:
Outdoor Merchandising Solutions, LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F10/00; E04B1/28; E04C2/00; E04H1/12; (IPC1-7): E04C2/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
A, PHI DIEU TRAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Okuley Smith, LLC (7700 RIVERS EDGE DRIVE, COLUMBUS, OH, 43235, US)
Claims:
1. The method for localizing a zone at a surface, comprising the steps: determining one or more boundaries of said zone at said surface corresponding with characteristics of the zone function and attendees thereto; providing a plurality of moveable wall modules structured as polymeric shells each having a bottom engageable with said surface, a wall length extending between wall connecting ends, a wall width, a wall height locating a wall top at an elevation above said surface; providing a plurality of moveable terminator support modules structured as polymeric shells, each having a support bottom engageable with said surface, a support height greater than said wall height extending to a support top, a support cavity extending inwardly from said support top, one or more support sides of width greater than said wall width and having a terminator connector configured to effect removable engagement with a wall connecting end; providing a plurality of moveable column modules configured as polymeric shells, each having a column base configured for engagement with the support cavity of a terminator support module and extending a column height to a column top and having one or more column side surfaces; locating a plurality of said terminator support modules in spaced apart adjacency along said one or more zone boundaries, two or more of the terminator support modules being located to define an entrance to said zone; locating one or more wall modules upon said surface between two adjacent terminator support modules and joining wall connecting ends with terminator connectors to define a low boundary wall with one or more entrances; and erecting one or more column modules at one or more terminator support modules by removably connecting the column base with a terminator support module support cavity.

2. The method of claim 1 in which: said column modules are provided with one or more sides having a column connector at a location adjacent said column top; further comprising the steps: providing a plurality of moveable spanner modules configured as polymeric shells having a spanner length extending between spanner ends incorporating spanner connectors; and supporting one or more said spanner modules between adjacent column modules by connecting said spanner connectors with a said column connector.

3. The method of claim 1 in which: one or more of said terminator support modules is provided as being configured having a ballast receiving portion; following the location of said terminator support modules upon said surface, liquid ballast is positioned within said ballast receiving portion; and said terminator support modules are provided having ballast fill and removal ports.

4. The method of claim 1 in which: one or more said wall modules is provided as being configured having a ballast receiving portion; following the location of said wall modules upon said surface, liquid ballast is positioned within said ballast receiving portion; and said wall modules are provided having ballast fill and removal ports.

5. The method of claim 2 in which: one or more of said column modules is provided having an accessory receiving receptor cavity extending inwardly from the column top.

6. The method of claim 5 further comprising the steps: providing said accessory as a roof defining canopy; and removably mounting said canopy upon said column module at accessory receiving receptors.

7. The method of claim 5 further comprising the steps: providing said accessory as a plurality of dynamic wind responsive devices; and removably mounting one or more of said dynamic wind responsive devices upon said column modules at accessory receiving receptors.

8. The method of claim 1 in which: said wall modules are provided with said wall connecting ends configured as an integrally formed component of a tongue-and-groove joint; and said terminator support modules are provided with a terminator connector configured as an integrally formed component of a tongue-and-groove joint.

9. The method of claim 8 in which: said wall module integrally formed component of a tongue-and-groove joint is further configured with an interlock portion; and said terminator support module integrally formed component of a tongue-and-groove joint is further configured with an interlock portion.

10. The method of claim 2 in which: said column modules are provided with one or more sides having a column connector configured as an integrally formed component of a tongue-and-groove joint; and said spanner modules are provided with spanner connectors configured as an integrally formed component of a tongue-and-groove joint.

11. The method of claim 2 in which: said column modules are provided with one or more sides having a column connector generally configured as an upwardly open slot; and said spanner modules are provided with spanner connectors configured as integrally formed outwardly extending tabs with laterally disposed spaced apart detent defining components.

12. The method of claim 11 in which: said step of supporting spanner modules between column modules is carried out by inserting a said spanner connector tab downwardly within a column connector slot in a manner wherein adjacent said detent components slideably abuttably engaged oppositely disposed walls of said upwardly open slot.

13. The method of claim 10 in which: each said column connector is configured as the groove component of a joint; each said spanner module is configured with a tongue joint component as one spanner connector and a groove component as the oppositely disposed spanner connector; further comprising the step: providing a plurality of a polymeric spanner splines each configured for slideable insertion within the groove component of a spanner connector and the groove component of a column connector; and said step of supporting spanner modules between column modules is carried out by inserting a spanner spline within the groove component of a spanner connector and within the groove component of a column connector of one column module and inserting the oppositely disposed spanner connector tongue component into the column connector groove component of an oppositely disposed column module.

14. The method of claim 8 in which: each said terminator connector is configured as the groove component of a joint; each said wall module is configured with a tongue joint component as one wall connecting end and a groove joint component as the oppositely disposed wall connecting end; further comprising the step: providing a plurality of polymeric wall splines each configured for slidable insertion within the groove component of a wall module; and said step of locating wall modules and joining wall connecting ends with terminator connectors is carried out by inserting a wall spline within the groove component of a wall connecting end and within the groove component of a terminator connector of one terminator support module and inserting the oppositely disposed wall connecting end tongue component into the terminator connector groove component of an oppositely disposed terminator support module.

15. The method of claim 10 in which: each said terminator connector is configured as the groove component of a joint having an inwardly disposed female interlock portion; each said wall module is configured with a tongue joint component having an outwardly disposed male interlock portion as one wall connecting end and a groove joint component having an inwardly disposed female interlock portion as the oppositely disposed wall connecting end; further comprising the step: providing a plurality of polymeric wall splines each configured with oppositely outwardly disposed integrally formed male interlock portions; and said step of locating wall modules and joining wall connecting ends with terminator connectors is carried out by inserting a wall spline within the groove connecting end in a manner wherein a spline male interlock portion engages a wall connecting end female interlock portion and the oppositely disposed spline male interlock portion engages a terminator connector groove component female interlock portion.

16. The method of claim 2 in which: said zone is a retail merchandising zone; said surface is an outdoor surface; said step of determining one or more boundaries of said zone is carried out corresponding with characteristics of selected retail product or products and of shoppers anticipated to be purchasers thereof; said steps providing terminator support modules and said column modules provide said support height and said column height to establish a zone height within a range from about eight feet to about fourteen feet; said step of locating said terminator modules locates two or more such modules spaced apart a merchandising bay width and said defined entrance is located to define a shopper aisle within said zone, said step further locating one or more terminator modules to define a cash/wrap region; and further comprising the step of suspending merchandise information signage from one or more said spanner modules.

17. The method of claim 1 in which: said steps of providing wall modules and terminator support modules provides one or more integrally molded together combined wall module and terminator support module.

18. The method of claim 1 further comprising the steps; providing one or more signage support assemblies; and mounting said one or more signage assemblies upon one or more wall module wall tops.

19. A system for localizing a zone at a surface having one or more boundaries, comprising: a plurality of freestanding terminator support modules structured as polymeric shells, each having a support bottom engageable with said surface, having a support height extending to a support top and a support cavity extending inwardly from the support top and having one or more sides of support width, one or more of which is configured with a terminator connector, said terminator support modules being arranged in spaced apart relationship along said one or more boundaries, two or more of said terminator support modules being located to define an entrance to the zone; a plurality of freestanding wall modules structured as polymeric shells each having a bottom engageable with said surface, a wall length extending between wall connecting ends, a wall width less than said support width, a wall height less than said support height and locating a wall top at an elevation above said surface, one or more of said wall modules being located upon said surface between adjacent said terminator support modules to further define one or more said boundaries and selectively interconnected with said terminator support modules at respective connecting ends and terminator connectors; and two or more column modules configured as polymeric shells, each having a column base configured for engagement with the support cavity of a terminator support module and extending a column height to a column top, having one or more column sides, said column modules being removeably mounted upon two or more adjacent terminator support modules to further localize said zone.

20. The system of claim 19 in which: said column modules are configured with one or more sides having a column connector at a location adjacent said column top; and said system further comprising: one or more spanner modules configured as polymeric shells having a spanner length extending between oppositely disposed spanner connectors, said spanner modules being coupled between adjacent column modules by connection between spanner connectors and column connectors.

21. The system of claim 19 in which: said terminator support modules are structured with four sides and are configured with between one and three said terminator connectors, each said terminator connector being integrally formed as the groove component of a tongue-and-groove joint.

22. The system of claim 20 in which: said column modules are structured with four column sides and are configured with one to three said column connectors, each said column connector being integrally formed as the groove component of a tongue-and-groove joint.

23. The system of claim 20 in which: said column modules are structured with four column sides and are configured with one to four said column connectors, each said column connector configured as a wall defined upwardly open slot.

24. The system of claim 23 in which: each said spanner module spanner connector is configured as an integrally formed outwardly extending tab with laterally disposed spaced apart detent defining components effective to abutably engage the walls defining said column connector upwardly open slot.

25. The system of claim 19 in which: each said terminator support module is structured with an integrally formed said support cavity having a rectangular cross-section effective to function as a socket; and each said column module base is structured with an integrally formed downwardly depending plug of rectangular cross-section slideably engageable within a said terminator support module support cavity.

26. The system of claim 19 in which: said wall module wall height is between about two feet and about four feet.

27. The system of claim 19 in which: said wall length is about five feet.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. applications for patent Ser. No. 09/955,417 filed Sep. 18, 2001; Ser. No. 29/212,707 filed Sep. 7, 2004; and Ser. No. 29/212,695 filed Sep. 7, 2004.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Over the somewhat recent past the subject of retail merchandising has become the object of highly elaborate studies and analysis. Such studies are referred to as the “science of shopping” which analyzes not simply the architectural topography of the retail store or facility but carries out detailed analysis of the reactions of human shoppers approaching the facility or within it.

    • And if anthropology has already been studying all that . . . and not simply studying the store, but what, exactly human beings do in it, where they go and don't go, and by what path they go there; what they see and fail to see, or read and decline to read; and how they deal with the objects they come upon, how they shop, you might say—the precise anatomical mechanics and behavioral psychology . . .
    • Underhill, “Why We Buy The Science Of Shopping”, Simon & Schuster, 1999, p. 12.
    • I'm talking about the absolute basics here, such as the fact that we have only two hands, and that at rest they are situated approximately three feet off the floor. Or that our eyes focus on what is directly before us but also take in a periphery whose size is determined in part by environmental factors, and that we'd rather look at people than objects. Or that it is possible to anticipate and even determine how and where people will walk—that we go in predictable paths and speed up, slow down and stop in response to our surroundings.
    • The implications of all this are clear: Where shoppers go, what they see, and how they respond determine the very nature of their shopping experience. They will reach objects easily or with difficulty. They will move through areas at a leisurely pace or swiftly—or not at all. And all of these physiological and anatomical factors come into play simultaneously, forming a complex matrix of behaviors which must be understood if the retail environment is to adapt itself successfully to the animal that shops.
    • Underhill (supra) pp 43, 44.

Modern day shoppers are susceptible to impressions and information acquired in the retailing facility rather than rely upon advertising and the like which was the historical approach to promoting sales. These shoppers will represent different constituencies. such as the elderly, teenagers, parents with strollers, and these constituencies further will be subsets of representatives of a variety of ethnic groups. Accordingly, the modern store will perform several retailing functions often within a variety of zones of customer interest. As retailers strive to control overhead, store clerks have become a diminishing sales promotional entity with the result that products are displayed in a customer accessible manner. Such displays further must communicate with the customer through effective signage. Those signs must initially gain the attention of the shoppers, not overload or confuse them. For maximum exposure, a sign should interrupt the natural sight lines from the customer eye station.

    • And shoppers are more pressed for time than ever. They're not dawdling the way they used to. They've grown accustomed to stores where everything for sale is an open display, and they expect all the information they need will be out in the open too. Nobody wants to wait for a clerk to point them in the right direction, or explain some new product. Nobody can find a clerk anyway.
    • So you can't just look around your store, see where there are empty spots on the walls and put the signs there. You can't simply clear a space on a counter and dump all your in-store media. Every store is a collection of zones, and you've got to map them out before you can place a single sign.
    • Underhill (supra) p 63.

Larger, undifferentiated stores such as the classic supermarket have in many installations appeared to be boring with little ability to innovate or excite in order to evoke an interaction with a shopper.

    • A big problem for supermarkets was that shoppers began to equate their hugeness with their seeming inability to innovate or excite. Now, many have gone boutique—where once you had a giant, undifferentiated store you now see a collection of smaller, shoplike departments, like the bakery cafe, in-store bank branch or drugstore complete with pharmacist, herbal remedies and other specialty products. Supermarkets have responded to the working woman's burden by going into the meal replacement business, so you can buy your chicken from the butcher counter or the rotisserie, your lettuce from the produce section or the salad bar.
    • Underhill (supra) pp 233, 234.

In the retail environment of the present, merchants are looking to differentiate or localize with marketing zones corresponding with the characteristics of selected retail products and of those shoppers associated in a marketing sense with those products. While such zones can be created, no determination as to their effectiveness is possible until the shoppers are observed interacting with them. Thus, the zones should be moveable and changeable.

    • Endcaps and freestanding displays are staples of American retailing. Some of them succeed and some fail, depending on how they work once they are placed in the store. As with signs, you can't say which are good and which are not until you see them in action.
    • Underhill (supra) p 208.

Studies also have revealed that the cash/wrap areas within a retail facility are quite important as is their location.

    • We spent a lot of time that weekend watching people in line to pay at what the retail industry calls cash/wraps. Regardless of what store designers and merchandise managers think, in many ways the cash/wrap area is the most important part of any store. If the transactions aren't crisp, if the organization isn't clear at a glance, shoppers get frustrated or turned off. Many times they won't even enter a store if the line to pay looks long or chaotic.
    • Underhill (supra) p 26.

Another venue which has been employed, for example, in the merchandising of lawn and garden products as well as for such rain-proof commodities as vehicles and the like is the parking lot adjacent the store. With respect to the former, notwithstanding its seasonal aspect, the National Gardening Association has reported that the total value of the do-it-yourself gardening and landscaping business in the United States (1999-2000) amounted to about 33.5 billion dollars. The approach traditionally taken by retailers in selling lawn and garden products has been to disperse piled or palletized merchandise in the parking lots. Product arrangement generally is haphazard and signage so marginal that the resultant sales function may be unrecognized by potential new shoppers. Occasionally, merchants will rent large tents to draw shoppers. However, such tents carry no signage effective to draw the attention of the shopper and, importantly, are considered by many retailers to exhibit a prohibitive cost/benefit ratio. Typical outdoor parking lot merchandising can create, in effect, an intimidating environment.

The typical parking lot merchandising format, in effect, represents a retailing anomaly. In this regard, retailers have not observed the tenants of the science of shopping in conjunction with these outdoor facilities Sales of lawn and garden products in the ubiquitous parking lot of store facilities should be within a retail environment tailored to that science of shopping. Thus, the point-of-sale, albeit in the parking lot must be amenable to characteristics of the shopper. The signage should be discernable at a distance and convey information generally not available from the diminishing number of sales clerks.

The parking lot itself traditionally has been considered a detriment to the fostering of sales. Such parking lots typically involve exhaust fumes, automobiles being poorly driven, debris strewed about and they typically exude the environment of a vast stretch of asphalt. Thus, shoppers tend to walk quickly to the adjacent store in order to rid themselves of an unpleasant environment with all dispatch. Accordingly, savvy retailers adjust the store entrance features to accommodate this faster paced customer entry into the retail store.

    • Bear in mind, too, that the faster people walk, the narrower their field of peripheral vision becomes. But by the time we get close enough to see the goods or read the signs, we're in no mood to stop and look. We've got that good cardiovascular parking-lot stride going, and it's bringing us right into the entrance. So forget whatever it is those windows are meant to accomplish—when they face a parking lot, if the message in them isn't big and bold and short and simple, it's wasted.
    • Underhill (supra) p 46.
    • These people are not truly in the store yet. You can see them, but it'll be a few seconds more before they're actually here. If you watch long enough you'll be able to predict exactly where most shoppers slow down and make the transition from being outside to being inside. It's at just about the same place for everybody, depending on the layout of the front of the store.
    • All of which means that whatever's in the zone they cross before making that transition is pretty much lost on them. If there's a display of merchandise, they're not going to take it in. If there's a sign, they'll probably be moving too fast to absorb what it says. If the sales staff hits them with a hearty “Can I help you?” the answer's going to be, “No, thanks,” I guarantee it. Put a pile of fliers or a stack of shopping baskets just inside the door: Shoppers will barely see them, and will almost never pick them up. Move them ten feet in and the fliers and baskets will disappear. It's a law of nature—shoppers need a landing strip.
    • Underhill (supra) pp 46-47.

To gain new customers from what generally is considered a fixed customer base, the merchandise presented at the retail facility and identified with its associated signage should be recognizable to potentially new shoppers from substantial distances away. Typical parking lot based lawn and garden sales regions have no characteristics lending to their identification from a distance nor establishing their mercantile function.

    • We'll start by standing at the proper vantage point for evaluating any retail environment: half a block away. That's where the first issue arises—we can't see the place. We can see the building just fine, but there's no big sign or giant book or anything else to tell us we're so close to a bookstore. Now, its regular customers know where it is. But who knows how many others find themselves standing on this very spot, heads swiveling, trying to figure out where exactly the store is located. What's more, every day there are people walking down this street who might impulsively decide to drop in, but not if they don't know it's there.
    • Underhill (supra) p 225.

The haphazard nature of the parking lot sales endeavor is additionally manifested by an essential random location of its cash/wrap area. This defect perhaps is a given consequence of the unstructured, loosely planned nature of these retail endeavors.

    • We spent a lot of time that weekend watching people in line to pay at what the retail industry calls cash/wraps. Regardless of what store designers and merchandise managers think, in many ways the cash/wrap area is the most important part of any store. If the transactions aren't crisp, if the organization isn't clear at a glance, shoppers get frustrated or turned off. Many times they won't even enter a store if the line to pay looks long or chaotic.
    • Underhill (supra) p 26.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a method and system for localizing a zone. Boundaries of the zone are determined with respect to the characteristics of the zone, for instance, those characteristics may involve a retail merchandising of lawn and garden products within an outdoor environment. Additionally, the boundaries are developed with respect to the anticipated attendees to the zone. For example, the zone may be dedicated to age or ethnic products or services.

Localization of the zone is carried out with a relatively small number of readily moveable, light modules which are located to define a zone boundary in a three dimensional aspect designed to support signage at ideal sight heights and produce a visual stimulation and guidance to the attendees. Entrances/exits are readily identifiable with the system as well as important zone functions such as delineating aisles, clearly establishing the view of important locations such as cash/wrap stations.

Boundaries are basically established with relatively low, free standing moveable wall modules structured as polymeric shells. These shells have a wall length of about five feet between connecting ends and a height of between about 2 feet and 4 feet, a preferred height being about 2 feet, 2 inches. To promote their free-standing stability as well as their aesthetic appeal, each wall module is structured with integrally formed buttresses. Structural integrity as well as the aesthetic presence of the light wall modules is at hand through the use of integrally formed flutes.

In defining a zone boundary, the wall modules are joined with free standing moveable terminator support modules having a width and height slightly greater than the wall modules to provide an aesthetic wall termination. The wall modules are themselves interconnected as well as connected with the terminator support modules through the incorporation of integrally formed tongue-and-groove joints which are configured as part of the shell structure itself. Thus there is afforded a simple slidable union of these modules. In a preferred embodiment the tongue-and-groove structures are configured with mutually engageable integrally formed interlocks. Where they are employed in an outdoor environment, due to the hollow cavity developed with their polymeric shell structures, they may be weighted with a ballast such as water, sand or the like. Where changes are required, the ballast is drained or removed and the module is rearranged.

The terminator support modules also are configured with fluted panels and have a support top with an integrally formed support cavity extending inwardly therefrom. That cavity principally functions as a robust socket form of connector for receiving the downwardly depending plug connector of a column module. Such column modules also are structured as polymeric shells and exhibit varying but principally two heights, the top of the taller of which resides about 10 feet above the zone surface. The column modules are generally obelisk shaped and are configured at their tops having one or more integrally formed connector components dimensioned to receive a corresponding connector component of a spanner module. Such spanner modules may be structured as polymeric shells with oppositely disposed tongue-and-groove connectors. In a preferred embodiment the spanner modules and column module tops are configured respectively with detent carrying male tabs and tab receiving slots.

The column modules also are configured with integrally formed accessory receiving cavities extending inwardly from the column tops. Such accessories include roof defining cavities, sight stimulating dynamic wind responsive devices and the like. The columns also are fluted in the interest of structural integrity and aesthetic presence.

Another feature and object of the invention is to provide a method for localizing a zone at a surface which comprises the steps:

    • determining one or more boundaries of the zone at the surface corresponding with characteristics of the zone function and attendees thereto;
    • providing a plurality of moveable wall modules structured as polymeric shells each having a bottom engageable with the surface, a wall length extending between wall connecting ends, a wall width, a wall height locating a wall top at an elevation above the surface;
    • providing a plurality of moveable terminator support modules structured as polymeric shells, each having a support bottom engageable with the surface, a support height greater than the wall height extending to a support top, a support cavity extending inwardly from the support top, one or more support sides of width greater than the wall width and having a terminator connector configured to effect removable engagement with a wall connecting end;
    • providing a plurality of moveable column modules configured as polymeric shells, each having a column base configured for engagement with the support cavity of a terminator support module and extending a column height to a column top and having one or more column side surfaces;
    • locating a plurality of terminator support modules in spaced-apart adjacency along one or more zone boundaries, two or more of the terminator support modules being located to define an entrance to the zone;
    • locating one or more wall modules upon the surface between two adjacent terminator support modules and joining wall connecting ends with terminator connectors to define a low boundary wall with one or more entrances; and
    • erecting one or more column modules at one or more terminator support modules by removably connecting the column base with a terminator support module support cavity.

Other objects of the invention will, in part, be obvious and will, in part, appear hereinafter.

The invention, accordingly, comprises the method and system possessing the construction, combination of elements, arrangement of parts and steps which are exemplified in the following detailed description.

For a fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a basic assemblage of modules according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the assemblage of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front view of a wall module according to the invention;

FIG. 4 is a top view of the wall module of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a left side view of the wall module of FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is a right side view of the wall module of FIG. 3;

FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the wall module of FIG. 3;

FIG. 8 is a sectional view taken through the plane 8-8 in FIG. 4;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view taken through the plane 9-9 in FIG. 3;

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of a terminator support module according to the invention;

FIG. 11 is a top view of the support module of FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is a right side view of the module of FIG. 10;

FIG. 13 is a sectional view taken through the plane 13-13 in FIG. 11;

FIG. 14 is a sectional view taken through the plane 14-14 in FIG. 10;

FIG. 15 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 14 but showing two groove connectors;

FIG. 16 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 14 but showing three groove connectors;

FIG. 17 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 14 but showing four groove connectors;

FIG. 18 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 14 but showing two oppositely disposed groove connectors;

FIG. 19 is a front elevational view of a spline;

FIG. 20 is a top view of the spline of FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 is a front elevational view of a column module according to the invention;

FIG. 22 is a top view of the column module of FIG. 21;

FIG. 23 is a bottom view of the column module of FIG. 21;

FIG. 24 is a right side view of the column module of FIG. 21;

FIG. 25 is a sectional view taken through the plane 25-25 shown in FIG. 24;

FIG. 26 is a sectional view taken through the plane 26-26 in FIG. 21 and showing a flag assembly;

FIG. 27 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 25 but showing two groove connectors;

FIG. 28 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 25 but showing three groove connectors;

FIG. 29 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 25 but showing four groove connectors;

FIG. 30 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 25 but showing two oppositely disposed groove connectors;

FIG. 31 is a front elevational view of a short column module;

FIG. 32 is a front elevational view of a tall column module;

FIG. 33 is a front view of a spanner module according to the invention;

FIG. 34 is a sectional view taken through the plane 34-34 shown in FIG. 33;

FIG. 35 is an elevational view of a spanner spline;

FIG. 36 is a front elevational view of a combined wall and terminator support module;

FIG. 37 is a top view of the combined module of FIG. 36;

FIG. 38 is a left side view of the combined module of FIG. 36;

FIG. 39 is right side view of the combined module of FIG. 36;

FIG. 40 is bottom view of the combined module of FIG. 36;

FIG. 41 is a sectional view taken through the plane 41-41 in FIG. 37;

FIG. 42 is a sectional view taken through the plane 42-42 shown in FIG. 36;

FIG. 43 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 42 but showing a connector groove;

FIG. 44 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 42 but showing a left side connector groove;

FIG. 45 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 42 but showing a right side connector groove;

FIG. 46 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 42 but showing a forward and right side groove configuration;

FIG. 47 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 42 but showing a forward and left side groove connector;

FIG. 48 is a sectional view similar to FIG. 42 but showing three groove connectors;

FIG. 49 is a partial front elevational view of a zone entrance configured with the modules of the invention;

FIG. 50 is a side elevational view of an assemblage employing the modules of the invention;

FIG. 51 is a top view of the assemblage of FIG. 50;

FIG. 52 is a side view of another assemblage of modules according to the invention;

FIG. 53 is a top view of the assemblage of FIG. 52;

FIG. 54 is a side view of another assemblage utilizing modules of the invention;

FIG. 55 is a top view of the assemblage of FIG. 54;

FIG. 56 is a side view of another assemblage of modules according to the invention;

FIG. 57 is a top view of the assemblage of FIG. 56;

FIG. 58 is a front view of an assemblage of modules according to the invention;

FIG. 59 is a top view of the assemblage of FIG. 58;

FIG. 60 is a top view of a zone having localized boundaries utilizing the modules of the invention;

FIG. 61 is a front view of the zone of FIG. 60;

FIG. 62 is a left side view of the zone of FIG. 60;

FIG. 63 is a rear view of the zone of FIG. 60;

FIG. 64 is a top view of another enterprise zone utilizing the modules of the invention;

FIG. 65 is a front view of the zone of FIG. 64;

FIG. 66 is a left side view of the zone of FIG. 64;

FIG. 67 is a rear view of the zone of FIG. 64;

FIG. 68 is a front elevational view of an internal boundary within the zone of FIG. 64;

FIG. 69 is a top view of another zone localized utilizing the modules of the invention;

FIG. 70 is a right side view of the zone of FIG. 69;

FIG. 71 is a front view of the zone of FIG. 69;

FIG. 72 is a top view of another zone localized with the modules of the invention;

FIG. 73 is a front view of the zone of FIG. 72;

FIG. 74 is a front elevational view of a preferred basic assemblage of modules according to the invention;

FIG. 75 is top view of the assemblage of FIG. 1 with flag assemblies being removed;

FIG. 76 is a sectional view taken through the plane 76-76 in FIG. 74;

FIG. 77 is a partial perspective view illustrating a column connector module and a spanner connector module in juxtaposed position;

FIG. 78 is a side view of a unitary spanner module according to the invention;

FIG. 79 is a top view of the spanner module of FIG. 78;

FIG. 80 is a side view of a short spanner module according to the invention;

FIG. 81 is a perspective view of a wall module according to the invention;

FIG. 82 is a bottom view of the wall module of FIG. 81;

FIG. 83 is a sectional view taken through the plane 83-83 in FIG. 82;

FIG. 84 is a perspective view of a spline according to the invention;

FIG. 85 is a top view of the spline of FIG. 84;

FIG. 86 is a perspective view of a terminator support module according to the invention;

FIG. 87 is a bottom view of the terminator support module of FIG. 86; and

FIG. 88 is a sectional view taken through the plane 88-88 in FIG. 87

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The zone localizing modules described herein are relatively light so as to be moveable into numerous zone boundary-defining orientations. As noted earlier herein, where the zone function is that of retailing, the retailer more than likely will not be able to predict the effectiveness of the bounded zone and its signage until it has been tried out in the environment of shoppers. Accordingly, if an initial zone localizing effort fails to function properly, it is readily alterable because of this moveability and modularity,

In the discourse to follow, one embodiment of a basic assembly of modules initially is described, whereupon the structure of the individual modules of the system and methodology at hand is addressed. Then, a series of installation demonstrations is set forth, including a corral form of zone intended for outdoor retailing practices, for example, on a retail facility parking log. Finally, preferred module interconnections are described.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a basic assemblage of modules is represented generally at 10. Typically, a grouping of such modules incorporating the features of assembly 10 will be arranged in place following a determination of one or more boundaries of a zone. Those boundaries of the zone will correspond with the characteristics of its function, for instance, a retail marketing of a certain type of goods, as well as the attendees of the zone, for example, shoppers. Assembly 10 includes two moveable terminator support modules represented generally in FIG. 1 at 12 and 14. Terminator support modules 12 and 14 provide a termination of a low wall structure represented generally at 16. To enhance the three dimensional aspect of this localizing system generally obelisk-shaped column modules may be removeably connected to the support tops of terminator support modules 12 and 14. Two such column modules are represented in general at 18 and 20. The height of these columns may vary. For instance, for outdoor use they may reach about 10 feet from the surface and for special functions such as defining an entranceway their height above surface may reach about 14 feet. The tops of columns 18 and 20 are identified respectively at 22 and 24 and are seen to be configured in a generally shallow truncated pyramidal shape. As revealed in FIG. 2, the very top of the columns are configured with an accessory receiving receptor cavity shown respectively at 26 and 28 which extend axially inwardly from the top. Those receptor cavities may receive a variety of accessories, for example, a roof-defining canopy (not shown) or dynamic wind responsive devices which may be implemented as shown with pennant-shaped flag assemblies represented generally at 30 and 32 in FIG. 1. In general, these flags are employed in outdoor settings. Such flags will protrude about 3½ feet above the column tops as at 22 and 24. The flag assemblies are formed with a aluminum flag pole shown respectively at 34 and 36. Poles 34 and 36 terminate in respective finials 38 and 40. Preferably, these flags as at 42 and 44 are formed with a long chain synthetic polymeric amid having the generic designation, nylon. The flags function as sight stimulators particularly in an outdoor environment. Experimentation has demonstrated that the nylon fabric functions better than other fabrics for this sight stimulation function. Removably connected between columns 18 and 20 at a location adjacent respective column tops 22 and 24 is a spanner represented generally at 50. In addition to contributing to the structural integrity of the assembly 10 as shown in FIG. 2, for the instant embodiment the spanner 50 is configured having two vertically disposed slots as at 52 and 54 extending therethrough. These slots may be employed for the support of downwardly depending signage or decorative implements such as netting.

Returning to low wall structure 16 as seen in FIG. 1, structure 16 is configured with two wall modules represented generally at 60 and 62. Each of the wall modules 60 and 62 has a wall length of about 5 feet extending between wall connecting ends. The separable union between wall modules 60 and 62 is represented as a joint structure line 66. Where the involved enterprise is outdoor merchandising, for example, of lawn and garden products, the resultant length of wall 16 of about 10 feet has been found to represent an ideal merchandising bay width. Wall modules 60 and 62 are structured having a flat wall bottom shown respectively at 68 and 70 in FIG. 1 configured having integrally formed drainage channels shown respectively at 72 and 73 and at 74 and 75. The spacing between these channels also functions to accommodate the tines of a forklift truck. Wall modules 60 and 62 exhibit a common wall width as seen in FIG. 2 and a wall height which locates a wall top shown respectively at 78 and 80. Tops 78 and 80 are at a common elevation corresponding with a wall height locating these tops at an elevation above the supporting surface. That height will be between about 2 feet and about 4 feet, a preferred height having been found to be 2 feet, 2 inches. The wall modules 60 and 62 are formed as polymeric shells and, for outdoor utilization are inherently configured to provide a ballast receiving portion which may be filled, for example, with a ballast such as water or other suitable liquid as well as sand. A liquid may also be drained following utilization of the module.

Looking again to terminator support modules 12 and 14, FIG. 1 reveals that they extend from a support bottom shown respectively at 82 and 84 which rests upon the zone surface and extend a support height to a support top represented respectively at 86 and 88. Tops 86 and 88 are at a height above the support bottoms greater than the height of wall module tops 78 and 80. Looking additionally to FIG. 2, it may be observed that module 12 is configured with support sides greater than the width of the wall modules 78 and 80. Such an arrangement not only improves the aesthetics of the system at hand, but also enhances the structural integrity of the system. The hollow polymeric shell structure of the terminator support modules also may be filled with a ballast such as a liquid, sand or the like.

Returning to overhead spanner 50, it may be observed in connection with FIG. 1 that for the instant embodiment this component is formed of two discrete spanner modules 96 and 98 which are joined together as represented at joint defining line 100 and additionally are connected with one side of respective columns 18 and 20 as represented at respective joint defining lines 102 and 104. Note that the sides of the columns 18 and 20 at these lines 102 and 104 are tapered, for example 1 1/20 from vertical. Accordingly, the corresponding end surfaces of modules 96 and 98 are configured with a complimentary taper. While the spanner 50 is shown configured with two spanner modules, it is of a length which may be molded as a single unit of a length suitable to develop a 10 foot bay width as described later herein.

Particularly for retail marketing forms of enterprise, signage represents a very important aspect of zone localization. For example, merchandise information signage may be suspended from spanners as at 50 or mounted within signage support assemblies secured, in turn, to wall module tops. Looking again to FIG. 1, the latter signage support assembly is represented generally at 110 and is seen to comprise a generally D-shaped tubular support 112 attached to wall top 78 of wall module 60 at flanged connections 114 and 115. A suspended signage arrangement is represented in phantom in general at 118. The arrangement 118 includes a flexible sign 120 which may be suspended from spanner module 98 by connection with the vertical slot 54 (FIG. 2). The lower boundary of sign 120 may be tethered with breakaway tethers as represented at dashed lines 122 and 124. These tethers may be formed, for example, of a length of 12 pound test fishing leader coupled through spaced apart fishing swivel connectors which in turn are coupled with eyelets (not shown) fixed to top surface 80 of wall module 62. For outdoor utilization, the signs are configured with more robust material and may also be protected from wind loads by wind release slits or the like.

All of the modules are configured as generally hollow polymeric shells. In general, these shells are formed by spin casting or roto casting, a process wherein a polymeric powder is placed within a female mold which is heated and rotated to distribute the now melting polymer against the mold surface by centrifugal action. The polymer employed may, for example, be a polyethylene. The only discontinuity in these shells will be the drain ports and associated closures for modules placed upon the zone surface, such ports receiving or discharging a liquid ballast. Other ballast materials may be employed such as sand at the determination of the user.

Looking to FIG. 3, a freestanding wall module is represented in general at 130. Module 130 has a zone surface engageable bottom 132 and a wall length of about 5 feet which extends between wall connecting ends represented generally at 134 and 136. Module 130 exhibits a wall height at a wall top 138 which is seen additionally in FIG. 4 which further reveals wall sides 140 and 142. Note that top 138 is configured with a ballast fill port and associated plug assembly 144. FIGS. 3, 5 and 6 reveal that at the wall sides 140 and 142 are configured with an integrally formed buttress represented generally at 146 and 148. These buttresses, in addition to contributing to the aesthetic aspects of the system, function to provide stability to these free-standing modules. FIG. 3 further reveals that these aesthetics as well as the structural integrity of the modules are enhanced by spaced apart vertical flutes 150 and 152. The elevation of top 138 may be selected to exceed that suitable for employment as a convenient human seating surface, however such seating may be a desirable attribute of the zone. FIG. 3 reveals a ballast removal port and plug assembly 158 as well as drainage channels at 160 and 162. All connecting ends 134 and 136 are configured as an integrally formed component of a tongue-and-groove joint. In this regard, FIGS. 3, 4, 5 and 6 reveal an integrally formed tongue component 164 as wall connector 136, while FIGS. 6 and 7 reveal wall connector 134 as an integrally formed groove component 166. Turning to FIGS. 8 and 9, the integrally formed shell structure of wall module 130 becomes apparent. It may be observed that the tongue component 164 is configured integrally and continuously with the wall structure as is groove component 166. Note that at the upper surfaces of groove 164 and 166 a slight tapering or rounding is provided to improve the assembly of a joint or union between a tongue and a groove. By contrast, the surface engaging region of these connected components are generally flat in consonance with their positioning upon a zone surface. In general, the tongue-and-groove components as at 164 and 166 will have a maximum height of about 1 foot 11 inches and an external width of about 4 inches. As an optional arrangement, the tongue-and-groove joints may be locked together with, for example, with polymeric pins. In this regard, a locking pin channel is represented in FIGS. 3 and 8 at 170 while a similar locking channel is shown in the latter figure at 178. Where these channels are employed, the depth of ballast liquid is limited by their height above the bottom surface of the module. A preferred interlocking tongue-and-groove joint system is described later herein. A salient feature of the instant modules with their free-standing nature and connector components which are integrally formed with the shell structure is that few or no additional parts are required for assembling the modules about the boundary or boundaries of a zone. They simply slide together. In general, the thickness of the shell is about 0.15 inch and will be in a range of about 0.10 inch to about 0.25 inch.

The terminator support modules as described in general at 12 and 14 in FIG. 1 also are structured as polymeric shells. Referring to FIGS. 10 and 11, a moveable terminator support module is represented generally at 174. FIG. 10 reveals that the module 174 extends from a support bottom 176 engageable with the zone surface. A support top represented generally at 178 is spaced above the support bottom 176 a support height greater than the earlier-described wall height. For instance, where the wall height is at a preferred 2 feet, 2 inches, the support height preferably is 2 feet 6 inches. FIG. 11 reveals that the module 174 is configured with four sides, 180-183. These sides define a width greater than the width of wall modules as at 130. In this regard, where the wall module width is 1 foot, 2 inches, a corresponding support width is 1 foot 6 inches. FIG. 10 reveals that side 180 is configured with an inwardly depending fluted panel 186. This panel is revealed in FIG. 14 in conjunction with fluted panels 187 and 188. The latter fluted panel also appears in FIG. 13. FIG. 10 further reveals the presence of optional locking pin channels 190 and 192. At the bottom region of support side 180 there is provided a ballast drain port and plug assembly 194.

FIGS. 11 and 13 reveal the presence of a support cavity represented generally at 200, the cavity bottom 202 of which is configured with a ballast fill port and plug assembly 204 (FIG. 11). It may be observed that the cavity 200 is configured as a socket, having a square cross-section. It is dimensioned to slideably receive a male column plug connector. Cavity 200 also may be utilized to support decorative accessories other than a column, for example, floral arrangements, fountains, wall terminating light fixtures and the like.

Terminator support module 174 further is configured having a terminator connector represented generally in FIGS. 12-14 at 206. Each of there terminal connectors is integrally formed with the shell structure as one component of a tongue-and-groove joint. For the instant embodiment, the component is a groove 212 which is configured and dimensioned in correspondence with groove 166 described in conjunction with FIGS. 6, 7 and 9. In this regard note in FIG. 13 that the upper portion of groove 212 is rounded to facilitate insertion of a corresponding tongue, while the bottom surface is coplanar with bottom surface 176 inasmuch as it is supported upon the zone surface.

FIGS. 13 and 14 reveal that the terminator support module 174 is formed as a continuous integrally formed shell structure which defines an internal cavity 218. That cavity may retain a ballast liquid when the module is employed for outdoor utilization.

The sides 180-183 of terminator support components as at 174 may be configured with fewer fluted panels 186-188 and more terminator connectors with a configuration of groove 212. In this regard, reference is made to FIG. 15 where the terminator support module is represented generally at 174′. Configuration 174′ includes groove 212 as well as a terminator connector 207 with corresponding groove 213. For this arrangement, the fluted panel 186 is not present. With this configuration, the terminator support 174′ can be combined with wall modules to define a right angled corner.

Now looking to FIG. 16, the terminator support module is represented with another connector configuration in general at 174″. With this arrangement only fluted panel 187 remains while terminator connectors 206 and 207 with respective grooves 212 and 213 are combined with a terminator connector 208 and associated groove 214. This configuration permits the union of three wall modules in a “T” configuration.

Looking to FIG. 17, a version of the terminator support module is represented in general at 174′″. With this configuration, fluted panels 186-188 are deleted and terminator connectors 206-208 with associated respective grooves 212-214 are joined with a terminator connector represented generally at 209 and associated with connector groove 215. With this configuration, four wall modules can be interconnected at a common termination to define four walls mutually arranged at right angles in the form of a cross structure.

Referring to FIG. 18, still another configuration for the terminator support module terminator connection location is presented. With this version, a continuous straight wall arrangement is made available. Accordingly, it may be observed that terminator connector 206 remains as well as the fluted panels 186 and 188. However, a terminator as represented at 210 in combination with its integrally formed groove.

As discussed in connection with FIGS. 3-9, each wall module as at 130 is configured with a groove joint component at one wall connecting end and a tongue joint component at the oppositely disposed wall connecting end. When two such wall components are joined to define a ten foot overall wall length as discussed in connection with FIGS. 1 and 2, a groove joint component will be present at one connector end of the combination and a tongue connector component will be present at the opposite end. Inasmuch as the terminator support modules are configured with groove connector components, accommodation is provided to convert the groove wall connector end or the groove of a support connector to a tongue. Referring to FIGS. 19 and 20, the conversion is seen to be provided by a polymeric wall spline represented generally at 224. Spline 224 is configured with integrally formed tongue component defining sides 226 and 228, each of which emulates a wall tongue connector. Note additionally, that the top of the spline is canted in opposite directions as represented at 230 and 232 to emulate the corresponding top regions of wall connector tongues. Similarly, the bottom surface 234 is flat in additional emulation. The spline 224 optionally may be configured with a locking pin channel 236 within side 226 and a locking pin channel 238 within side 228.

The column modules also are light and moveable to thus contribute to the flexibility of design or localization of an enterprise zone. As with the other modules, the columns are configured as polymeric shells. Referring to FIG. 21, a column module is represented in general at 250 extending from a column base a column height, which may vary, to a column top represented generally at 254. As seen in FIG. 22, the column has four sides as represented at sides 256-259. Returning to FIG. 21, the sides are configured with an elongate fluted panel as at 262. Fluted panel 262 not only provides an aesthetic enhancement of the module 250 but also functions to stiffen the module and thus enhance its structural integrity. As noted earlier herein, for the instant demonstration, the column module 250 is configured somewhat as an obelisk with a top 254 resembling a truncated shallow pyramid. FIG. 22 reveals the earlier-described accessory receiving receptor cavity as represented generally at 264. That cavity may support accessories such as a wind responsive dynamic device, for example, nylon flag or a roof-defining canopy. FIG. 21 further reveals an optional locking pin channel 266 located adjacent top 254. Base 252 is configured with an integrally formed downwardly depending plug connector 268 of rectangular cross-section. That rectangular cross-section is revealed in FIG. 23. Extending through the plug 268 is an optional locking pin channel 270. In general, the connector 268 has a length in an axial sense of about 5½ inches and is thus configured to be slidably received within the cavity socket defining support of a terminator support component. Such a support cavity is identified at 200 in FIGS. 11 and 13.

It may be recalled from the discourse in connection with FIGS. 1 and 2 that a spanner represented generally at 50 may be extended between the top regions of adjacent columns. Connection of the spanner is made at a column connector located adjacent the column top. Looking to FIG. 24, a right side 259 of column 250 is presented. Right side 259 is illustrated in connection with an inwardly depending fluted panel 272 which extends up to a column connector 274. Looking to FIG. 25, the polymeric shell structuring of the panel becomes apparent and column connector 274 is seen for the instant embodiment to be an integrally formed groove component 288 of a tongue-and-groove joint. The figure also reveals the presence of fluted panels 276 and 278 in respective sides 257 and 258 in addition to the presence of fluted panel 262 in side 256. As described in conjunction with FIGS. 14-18 the terminator support module may be configured with additional support connectors to develop three wall corner structures. Where columns are employed with these devices, then additional and corresponding column connectors are provided. In this regard, where the terminator support module 174′ as described in conjunction with FIG. 15 is utilized, then a column structured as shown at 250′ in FIG. 27 is operatively associated with it. In the figure, column connector 274 and its associated groove 288 reappear at side 259. However, another column connector 275 and its associated groove 289 is present at side 256.

Where a terminator support module as described in connection with FIG. 16 at 174″ is employed, then, the corresponding column employed with it is represented in general at 250″ in FIG. 28. Looking to that figure, column connectors 274 and 275 and their associated groove shell construction shown at 288 and 289 reappear. However, column side 258 now is shown to incorporate a column connector 276 configured as an integrally formed groove 290. As noted earlier herein, that permits a “T” spanner formation.

Where a terminator support module as represented at 174′″ in FIG. 17 is employed, then a column connector arrangement as set forth in FIG. 29 may be employed. Represented in general at 250′″, the column connectors 274, 275 and 276 return with associated grooves 288 and 290. However, at side 257 a column connector 277 is formed as integrally configured groove 291. Thus, column 250′″ may be employed with terminator support module 174′″ to evolve a four-way spanner configuration.

Where a wall and terminator connector assemblage is developed as represented at 174″″, then a column connector configuration as represented at 250″″ in FIG. 30 will be employed. With this arrangement, column connector 274 remains along with fluted panels 262 and 280. However, another column connector 278 is employed with its integrally formed groove 292.

As noted above, the column modules may assume a variety of heights depending upon the zone localizer system desired. A column of lower height is represented generally at 300. Column module 300 incorporates a plug connector 302 which is of common dimension, i.e., being the same as that shown at 268 in connection with FIGS. 21, 23 and 24. The base surface 304 of column 300 also is dimensioned identically with columns of other heights to achieve the mating association with a terminator support module as represented in FIG. 1. However, for a column which is 2 feet, 11¾ inches high from base 304 to top 306, the taper of sides as at 308 and 309 changes to 4½°. The outer tip of the top 306 also remains the same as with other columns, for example, each side of the outer periphery having a length of 1 foot, 6 inches. Note that column module 300 also contains an indented fluted panel 312 which functions to improve the aesthetics of the module as well as to enhance its structural integrity. In general, where such smaller panels are utilized, signage is provided and supported as represented in general at 110 in FIG. 1.

To illustrate the relative sizing between the short panel and a conventional panel, adjacent FIG. 31 is provided as represented in general at 316 in FIG. 32. Column module 316 incorporates a plug connector 318 extending below base surface 320. Note that the plug connector may contain an optional locking pin channel 322 and, as before, is structured identically with plug connectors as described in 268 in FIGS. 21, 23 and 24. The module 316 is illustrated with column sides 324-326 which exhibit a 1½° taper extending to column top 328. As noted above, top 328 is configured having a periphery with sides in common with all other columns, for example, top 306 of FIG. 31. The column sides are formed with fluted panels. These fluted panels are indented and provided on all four sides, one being shown at 330 in side 324. As before, these panels not only improve the aesthetics of the column module but contribute to its structural integrity. Specifically, panels as at 316 will have a height of 7 feet, 11 inches between base 320 and the top 328. Where the 7 feet, 11 inch tall column 316 is combined with a terminator support module of preferred height, the resulting height of column top 328 will be 10 feet, 3 inches above the zone surface.

As illustrated in general at 50 in FIG. 1, typically, adjacent ones of the taller columns as described in FIG. 32 are interconnected adjacent their column tops by spanner modules. Such modules may be nominally 5 feet length or provided as a singular spanner module. The generally 5 foot lengths permit the utilization of column modules, terminator support modules and nominally 5 foot long wall modules as an assemblage of the zone localizing system.

Referring to FIGS. 33 and 34, a spanner module is represented in general at 340. As with the other modules, modules 340 are configured as polymeric shells having a spanner length extending between spanner ends 342 and 344. Spanner connectors are integrally formed with the spanner ends 342 and 344. In this regard, the connectors are configured as a component of a tongue-and-groove joint. An integrally molded tongue component 346 is seen extending outwardly from end 342, while as seen in FIG. 34, integrally molded groove component 348 is seen extending inwardly from end 344. The length of the spanner module 340 will vary depending upon the height of column module associated with it and the length of the wall modules extending between spaced apart adjacent terminator support modules. Module 340 is shown having sides 350-353. Of those sides, sides 350 and 353 are formed with elongate indented flutes, a flute 356 being seen in FIG. 33. It may be recalled that vertical slots also are formed within these modules for purposes of suspending signage, banners and the like. In general, end 342 is tapered in correspondence with the taper of a column module side to which it is interconnected. As discussed in connection with the wall modules, where two of the spanner modules are joined together, for example, by inserting connector 346 within connector 348, then to provide connection between end 344 and an adjacent column connector a polymeric spanner spline is inserted within connector 348 as well as within an associated column connector. Looking to FIG. 35, such a spanner spline is shown at 358. For such an embodiment, end surface 344 is tapered to accommodate the taper of an associated column module side.

Some users of the instant system and method may desire to integrally unite a wall module with a terminator support module as a combined module which is configured as a singular polymeric shell. All dimensions remain the same as the earlier-described wall modules and terminator support modules. By the provision of such a combined module, the earlier-described wall spline components are not required to develop a 10 foot wide low wall which otherwise would use two wall modules. Looking to FIG. 36, a combined module is represented generally at 370. Module 370 includes a wall portion 372 which is integrally molded with a terminator support portion 374. While no groove connector is present at the union of portions 372 and 374, an integrally formed tongue joint component is provided at 376. Note the presence of a drain port and plug assembly 378 within wall buttress 380. The bottom of the combined module is seen in FIG. 40 at 384 which incorporates integrally molded drainage channels 386 and 388. Looking to FIG. 37, wall top 390 is seen to incorporate a fill port and plug assembly 392. Additionally, buttresses 380 and 382 are seen in this figure. Terminator support portion 374 is shown having a cavity 394 functioning as described above and representing a socket within which a column plug may be inserted as well as having other uses. FIG. 38 is an end view of the combined module 370 also showing terminator support portion 374, wall top 390, buttresses 380 and 382 and tongue 376.

Looking to FIG. 39, an end view of the combined module 370 shows a side 396 of terminator support portion 374. As before, indented flute panels are incorporated in the structure in the same manner as the individual modules.

FIG. 41 reveals a sectional view of combined module 370 showing the structuring of cavity 394 and the continuous integrated shell configuration involved. In similar fashion, FIG. 42 illustrates the continuous integrated shell structuring. Structure 370 is configured as a wall termination, its terminator support portion 374 functioning as terminator support module 174 described in connection of FIG. 14.

Referring to FIG. 43, a combined module 370′ is revealed which is configured with a terminator support portion 374, having a terminator connector 400 formed with an integrally formed groove 406. This configuration comports with the terminator support module 250″″ described in connection with FIG. 30 to develop a continuous linear expanse of wall.

Looking to FIG. 44, a combined module 370″ is illustrated having a terminator support portion 374 incorporating a terminator connector 401 and associated integrally formed groove 407 which permits a left turning wall structure which otherwise will be developed with terminator support module 174′ described in connection with FIG. 15.

Looking to FIG. 45, a combined module 370″ is depicted having a terminator support portion 374 with a terminator connector 402 formed with an integrally developed groove 408 suited to develop a right hand wall transition. FIG. 46 reveals a combined module 370″″ wherein this right hand turn terminator connector 402 is combined with a continuous linear connector 400 to evolve a wall configuration representing a right hand “T”. FIG. 47 shows a combined module 370′″″ where a left hand terminator concentrator 403 with groove 409 is combined with a continuous linear connector 400 to evolve a left hand “T” wall configuration. Accordingly, the structures of FIGS. 46 and 47 correspond with the terminator support module 174′ described in connection with FIG. 15.

Looking to FIG. 48, a combined module 370″″″ is illustrated which combines terminator connectors 402, 403 and 406 to evolve a crossing wall structure function in the manner described in connection with terminator support module 174′″ described in connection with FIG. 17.

The discourse now turns to a demonstration of the high level modularity of the system at hand. Looking to FIG. 49, one half of the zone boundary entrance is represented in general at 420. Entrance 420 is intended for outdoor surface mounting, its columns exhibiting a very high elevation intended for attendee visualization from a remote distance.

    • We'll start by standing at the proper vantage point for evaluating any retail environment: half a block away. That's where the first issue arises—we can't see the place. We can see the building just fine, but there's no big sign or giant book or anything else to tell us we're so close to a bookstore. Now, its regular customers know where it is. But who knows how many others find themselves standing on this very spot, heads swiveling, trying to figure out where exactly the store is located. What's more, every day there are people walking down this street who might impulsively decide to drop in, but not if they don't know it's there.
    • Underhill (supra) p 225

This entrance assembly combines a single wall module 422 with two terminator support modules 424 and 426 to generally establish one side of the entrance. Mounted upon the terminator support module 424 is a column module 428 of a more conventional height, for example the earlier described 7 feet 11 inches. When combined with the terminator support module 424, the column top 430 will be at a height of 10 feet, 3 inches. A tall column module 432 is mounted upon terminator support module 426. For example, column module 432 may have a height of about 11 feet, 9 inches. As is discussed above, its base matches the top of terminator support module 426 and its column top at 434 is dimensioned identically with top 430. However, the taper of the sides of column module 432 is changed to make this accommodation. A single spanner module 436 is connected between columns 428 and 432 and an elongate banner 438 identifying the zone is suspended from that spanner module. To identify the entrance, a more elaborate dual component header module is connected to column 432 adjacent its top as well as to an adjacent column (not shown). Note, additionally, that a sign 442 is suspended from the header module 440. The combination of terminator support module 426 and column module 432 positions the column top 434 at about 14 feet above the zone surface. Note, additionally, that flag assemblies 444 and 446 are mounted at the top of respective columns 428 and 432.

Referring to FIGS. 50 and 51, a localized zone boundary or sub-zone boundary particularly suited for outdoor utilization is represented in general at 450. Assemblage 450 is configured with wall modules 452-465 which establish a 10 foot wall segment between associated terminator support modules 468-475. It may be observed that of these terminator support modules, those identified at 469, 471 and 473 correspond with the description provided in connection with FIG. 18; those identified at 470, 472 and 474 correspond with the structure described in connection with FIG. 15; and those identified at 468 and 475 correspond with the configuration discussed in connection with FIG. 14. Mounted upon the terminator support modules 468-475 are respective column modules 476-483. Of these column modules, those identified at 469, 479 and 481 correspond with the configuration described in connection with FIG. 30. Column modules 470, 480 and 474 correspond with the configuration described in conjunction with FIG. 27; and column modules 468 and 483 correspond with the configuration described in connection with FIG. 25. It may be observed that columns 476 and 483 with their associated terminator support modules 468 and 475 define an entrance/exit as seen in FIG. 51. Spanner modules interconnect columns 476-483 as are identified at 486-501. Note in FIG. 51 that spanner modules 500 and 501 are located over the entry. A roof-defining canopy accessory represented generally at 504 formed with a tube structure and waterproof fabric the periphery of which is represented at dashed line 508. Structure 504 is mounted upon the column modules at their accessory receiving receptors as described in conjunction with FIG. 26. Canopy accessory 504 is seen to emulate a hip roof. The modular assembly 450 will be seen to be utilized in later figures.

By altering the canopy accessory 504 of the installation 450, that same configuration may be employed in conjunction with localizing or defining the boundaries of an indoor zone. Looking to FIGS. 52 and 53, such a module assemblage is represented in general at 510. As in the case of assemblage 450, assemblage 510 is configured with wall modules 512-525. These paired wall modules are coupled with terminator support modules 528-535. Of these terminator support modules, modules 528 and 535 define an entrance/exit and are configured as described above in connection with FIG. 14. Correspondingly, terminator support modules 529, 531 and 533 exhibit the configuration of the terminator support model described in FIG. 18; and terminator support modules 530, 532 and 534 exhibit the configuration described in connection with FIG. 15.

Removably mounted upon terminator support modules 528-535 are column modules 538-545. Of these column modules, those identified at 538 and 545 exhibit the configuration described in conjunction with FIG. 25. Column modules 539, 541 and 543 exhibit the configuration described in connection with FIG. 30; and modules 540, 542 and 544 exhibit the configuration described in connection with FIG. 27. Column modules 538-545 are interconnected with spanner modules 548-563. Of these spanner modules, note that modules 562 and 563 extend over the entrance/exit.

Mounted upon the tops of column modules 538-545 is a roof-defining canopy accessory represented generally at 566. Accessory 566 is tube implemented and may be covered in whole or in part with a fabric or the like, the periphery of which is represented at dashed line 568. Fabric may cover portions of the roof-defining accessory, leaving an open skylight. Thus, the periphery may be identified by dashed lines 568 and 569. The accessory 566 is mounted upon column tops at their accessory receiving receptors as described in connection with FIG. 26. It may be observed that the roof defining accessory 566 is in the form of a truncated hip roof to provide a lower elevation suited for utilization at an indoor zone.

Referring to FIGS. 54 and 55, another module assemblage similar to assemblages 450 and 510 is represented in general at 570. Assemblage 570, as before, is configured with wall modules 572-585 which are, in turn, coupled with terminator support modules 588-595. Of the later modules, terminator support modules 589, 591 and 593 are configured in the manner described in connection with FIG. 18. Terminator support modules 588 and 595 are configured in the manner described in connection with FIG. 14; and terminator support modules 590, 592 and 594 are configured in the manner described in connection with FIG. 15. Column modules 598 and 605 with their respective associated terminator support modules 588 and 595 define an entrance/exit. Column modules 589, 601 and 603 are configured as described in conjunction with FIG. 30. Column modules 598 and 605 are configured as described in conjunction with FIG. 25; and column modules 600, 602 and 604 are configured as described in conjunction with FIG. 27.

Column modules 598-605 are interconnected by spanner modules 608-623. Of these spanner modules, note that module 622 and 623 extend over the entrance/exit to that assemblage 570.

Module assemblage 570 is configured to utilize a roof-defining canopy accessory which is configured with components of differing slopes. Such components are represented generally at 626 and 628. Such an arrangement permits the development of a vertical skylight effect, the resultant vertical opening 627 emulating a clerestory. As before, the tubular fabric support structure is mounted within the accessory receiving receptors of column modules 598-605 and described in connection with FIG. 26. The skylight effect is defined by dashed lines 630 and 632 along with opening 627.

Referring to FIGS. 56 and 57, an eight sided module assemblage is represented in general at 640. Assemblage 640 is configured with wall modules 642-649. Wall modules 642-649 are combined with terminator support modules 652-659 all of which are configured in the manner described above in connection with FIG. 14 and which define four entrance/exits. Column modules 664-671 are mounted upon terminator support modules 652-659 and are provided having the configuration described in connection with FIG. 25. These column modules are interconnected by spanner modules 674-681. Assemblage 640 is covered by a substantially flat roof-defining canopy assembly represented generally at 684. The low height of this assembly 684 permits its use indoor. The tubing frame roof emulation is supported from column modules 664-671 at their accessory-receiving receptors as described in connection with FIG. 26. The roof fabric, however, may incorporate two components, one being represented by dashed line 686 and the other left open or covered with a clear/tinted skylight as represented at dashed line peripheral boundary 688.

Referring to FIGS. 58 and 59, a module assemblage is represented in general at 692. Assemblage 692 is configured to somewhat emulate a proscenium splay, being utilized for presentations before audiences. The assemblage is configured with wall modules 694-697 which are connected with terminator support modules 700-703. Modules 700-703 are provided as described in conjunction with FIG. 14. Column modules 706-709 are mounted upon the terminator support modules 700-703 and these column modules are interconnected by spanner modules 712-715. For this spanner module connection, column modules 706-709 are provided with the configuration described in conjunction with FIG. 25. Column modules 712-715 support a canopy accessory represented generally at 718 which may be vinyl or fabric covered as represented by dashed line 720

Referring to FIG. 60, a top view of a module assembly is represented generally at 724, Assembly 724 localizes a zone with multiple boundaries and may be employed out-of-doors, for example, at the parking facility of a retail establishment. Among the uses of such assembly 724 is the merchandising of lawn and garden products in an outdoor environment. An initial boundary is represented in general at 726. Being bounded by wall modules 728-759, these wall modules are, for the most part, paired except at the entrance to the zone which is configured in the manner of entrance assemblage 420 as described in conjunction with FIG. 49. Accordingly, that numeration again is employed in general to identify the entrance to zone 724. The wall modules are interconnected with terminator support modules 762-781. These terminator support modules in turn, support column modules which are not readily discerned in the instant figure. However, looking to FIG. 61, a front view of the initial boundary 726 is presented wherein certain of the column modules are revealed as 786-797. Of these modules, note that column modules 791 and 792 are of the tall variety described at 432 in FIG. 49. Note that wall modules 743 and 744 are of a single variety having a typical length of about 5 feet. Correspondingly, spanners 808 and 809 are single modules. Elongate banner type signage is represented as a component of the entrance 420 as shown at 820 and 821. Finally, an array of nylon flags represented generally at 824 is shown mounted upon tops of all the columns. Particularly where lawn and garden products are displayed, signage (not shown) is suspended from the spanner modules. Exemplars of such signage are represented in phantom at 826-828.

Returning to FIG. 60, it may be observed that terminator support modules 762, 771, 772 and 781 are configured as described in connection with FIG. 14 while the column modules associated therewith have been described in connection with FIG. 25. Terminator support module 765, 768, 774, 775, and 754 are configured as described in connection with FIG. 15, while the column modules mounted thereon have been described in connection with FIG. 27. Terminator support modules 763, 764, 766, 767, 770, 773, 776, 777, 779, and 780 have been configured in accordance with FIG. 18 and the column modules associated therewith are configured in accordance with FIG. 30.

Two additional boundaries or sub-boundaries are represented in general at 832 and 834. These boundaries are identically configured with two covered components. In this regard, boundary 832 is formed with a component represented generally at 836 having a nominal footprint of 20 feed wide and 40 feet long. Associated with component 836 is component 838 identically structured and the association between components 836 and 838 is manifested by a trellis-like breezeway represented generally at 840. In similar fashion, identical boundary 834 is configured with components 842 and 844 which are physically associated with a trellis-like breezeway 846. Looking to component 836, it is seen to be configured with wall modules 850-869 and terminator support modules 874-886. The component also incorporates paired spanner modules 888-891. The column modules and spanner modules associated with the terminator support modules 874-886 provide for the support of hip roof-like canopies represented in general at 894 and 896. It may be observed that terminator support modules 874, 885 and 884 in combination with paired spanner modules 888 and 889 define an entrance to the component 836 and that no wall modules are associated between terminator support modules 885, 886 and 879. Component 838 is identically configured with hip roof-like canopy structures represented generally at 898 and 900. Entrance to the component 838 is identified by terminator support modules 902-904 and the column modules and spanner modules associated therewith. Breezeway 840 is configured with paired spanner modules 906-908. A portion of the outer boundary of the zone is defined by wall modules 910-913 and associated terminator support modules 916-918 and their associated column modules and overhead paired spanner modules. Note that terminator support modules 762 and 881 and their associated column modules define a left side entranceway 920 while terminator support modules 883 and 916 with their associated column modules define another left side entranceway represented generally at 922.

Looking to FIG. 62, those entranceways reappear, the figure providing a left side elevational view which incorporates wall molecules 728-733 as well as single wale module 740. These wall components are seen associated with terminator support modules 762-765 along with support module 769. The latter terminator support modules are seen connected with column modules 926-928 and paired overhead spanner modules are provided as at 930-932 to define the left side of initial boundary 726. The right side of that initial boundary is an identical and a reversal image of the left side. The left sides of components 836 and 838 as well as the breezeway 840 also reappear in this figure. Terminator support modules 881-883 are seen coupled with column modules 924-936 and those columns modules are interconnected overhead with paired spanner modules 938 and 939. Correspondingly, terminator support modules 916-918 of component 838 are seen coupled with respective column modules 942-944 which, in turn, are interconnected overhead with paired spanner modules 946 and 947. The right side of the zone of FIG. 60 as noted above, is a reversed identical image of the left side.

Returning to FIG. 60, a rear boundary is seen developed by wall modules and are interconnected by terminator support modules 918 and 972-981, each of which supports a column module. The right side of the zone is further defined by wall modules 984-991 and terminal support module 981 and 994-998. Note that terminal support modules 995 and 996 along with their associated column modules define an entrance/exit represented in general at 1000, while terminator support modules 998 and 781 and their associated column modules define an entrance/exit represented in general at 1002. Component 842 is shown supporting two hip roof-defining canopies 1006 and 1008, while component 844 similarly supports hip roof-defining canopies 1010 and 1012.

Returning to component 836, terminator support modules 874 and 884 are configured in correspondence with FIG. 14, while their associated column modules are configured as described in connection with FIG. 30. Terminator support modules 885 and 886 are configured with joint grooves, while the column associated with terminator support module 885 is configured in accordance with FIG. 28 and the column module associated with terminator support module 886 is configured as described in conjunction with FIG. 30. Terminator support modules 875, 877, 881 and 883 are configured as described in connection with FIG. 15, while their associated column modules are configured as described in conjunction with FIG. 27. Terminator support modules 876, 878, 880 and 882 are configured as described in conjunction with FIG. 18 while their associated column modules are configured as described in conjunction with FIG. 30.

Referring to FIG. 63, a rear elevational view is presented with respect to module assembly 724 which also represents the rear of boundaries 832 and 834 and their interconnection. In the figure, terminator support module 918 reappears with an associated column module 944. From that position, the wall modules extend as identified at 950-969 and are seen to be interconnected by terminator support modules 972-981. Those support modules are seen in supportive combination with column modules 1016-1025 and the upper regions of the columns are interconnected by paired spanner modules 1028-1037. Terminator support module 976 and its associated column module 1020 are centered in an open region and column module 1020 is seen to support a flag assembly 1040 as described in conjunction with FIG. 26.

Referring to FIG. 64, another enterprise zone is represented in general at 1050. Zone 1050 incorporates the somewhat basic paired wall modules-terminator support modules-column modules and paired spanner modules to develop a portion of the boundary and additionally, a module assembly as described in conjunction with FIG. 57 to establish both a corner and entrance/exit defining component of the boundaries. Additionally, the boundaries incorporate a divider form of wall modules, terminator support modules and smaller column modules as described in conjunction with FIG. 31. Looking additionally to FIG. 65 the front boundary of zone 1050 is configured with wall modules 1052-1059 and terminator support modules 1062-1068. FIG. 65 reveals that the latter support modules, support column modules 1070-1076. Those column modules support paired spanner modules 1078-1080 and single spanner modules 1081 and 1082. An array of flag assemblies is represented generally at 1084. The eight-sided module assemblage is represented in general at 1086. With this front boundary configuration, two front entrance/exits shown generally at 1088 and 1090 are developed which are further enhanced by banner-type signage 1092 and 1094. Eight-sided assemblage 1086, as before, is formed of paired wall modules 1098-1105 as seen in FIG. 64. These paired wall modules are coupled with terminator support modules 1108-1115 to define four entrance/exits shown in general at 1118-1121.

FIG. 65 reveals column modules 1124-1127, while FIG. 66 includes column modules 1128 and 1129. These figures further reveal paired spanner modules 1134 and 1135.

As discussed in connection with FIG. 57, the columns of assemblage 1086 support a pipe frame implemented relatively flat roof-defining canopies having fabric coverings represented at dashed lines 1140 and 1141. The covering at 1141 may be deleted or, for example, made transparent as discussed above.

FIGS. 64 and 66 reveal that the left side of boundary and zone 1050 is configured with module assemblage 1086 in addition to linearly aligned wall modules 1144-1149 and associated terminator support modules 1152-1155. FIG. 66 reveals that these support modules are coupled with column modules 1158-1161 and those column modules are interconnected by paired spanner modules 1164-1166. Column modules 1158-1161 support a flag assembly array represented generally at 1168. Note in FIGS. 64 and 66 that an entrance/exit is defined between terminator support module 1152 and the module assemblage 1086.

Looking to FIGS. 64 and 67, the rear boundary of zone 1050 is illustrated. The rear boundary of zone 1050 is formed of a linear array of wall modules, terminator support modules, column modules and spanner modules. This back or rear boundary is formed of wall modules 1174-1189 which are interconnected with terminator support module 1155 and support modules 1192-1199. FIG. 67 reveals that the latter terminator support modules support column modules 1202-1209 as well as paired spanner modules 1212-1219. The flag assembly array 1168 continues across this back boundary.

Looking to FIG. 64, the right side boundary is seen to be comprised of wall modules 1222-1234 performing in conjunction with terminator support modules 1199, 1062 and 1236-1240. In general, this right side structure is identical in configuration with the back border with the exception of terminator support module 1239 which, instead of having a configuration of FIG. 18 is provided with the configuration of FIG. 16. The right side further incorporates paired spanner modules and the flag assembly array 1168 continues about it. The zone 1050 may also be configured with one or more internal boundaries, one such internal boundary being represented in general at 1240. Boundary 1240 is configured with wall modules 1242-1247 along with terminator support modules 1250-1252. These support modules, in turn, carry the short column modules as described in connection with FIG. 31 and identified at 1254-1256. Referring to FIG. 68, these shorter column modules are illustrated from an elevational aspect in combination with a column module 1258 supported from terminator support module 1239. When the zone 1050 is employed for retail merchandising, then the eight-sided assemblage 1086 may be employed as a cash/wrap station readily viewable at the entrances and exits 1088, 1090 and 1170.

Referring to FIGS. 69-71, an enterprise zone represented generally at 1264 is shown having an outer boundary within which are located six modular assemblages represented generally at 1266-1270 and configured in the manner of FIGS. 54 and 55 with the exception that four common wall module/terminator support module/column module/spanner modules are developed. Assemblages 1266-1268 are spaced from assemblages 1269-1271 by an aisle 1274 extending from an entrance 1276 to an exit 1278. Exit 1278 may also be an entrance. Looking to FIGS. 69 and 70, the right side boundary of the zone 1264 is seen to be comprised of wall modules 1282-1293. These wall modules are interconnected with terminator support modules 1296-1302. FIG. 70 reveals that these support modules, in turn, support column modules 1304-1310. The column modules are interconnected by spanner modules 1312-1317. These spanner modules are not paired, being unitary in structure and are described in detail later herein. The corresponding outer boundary of module assemblies 1269-1271 is identical being seen to be formed with wall modules 1320-1331 which are interconnected with terminator support modules 1334-1340. With the addition of column modules and spanner modules the left elevation will appear as identical to the right elevation shown in FIG. 70.

Now considering the front elevation reference is made additionally to FIG. 71. The front boundary is configured with wall modules 1344-1351 which are interconnected with terminator support modules 1302, 1340 and 1354-1357. FIG. 71 reveals that these terminator support modules support column modules 1310 and 1360-1364. Upper regions of these columns are connected with the noted unitary spanner modules 1366-1369.

Now considering the internal modules structure, FIG. 69 reveals that assemblage 1266 is additionally configured with internal wall modules 1372-1377. These wall modules are interconnected with internal terminator support modules 1380, 1381 and 1382, each of which supports a column module and those column modules are interconnected with unitary spanner modules. One such spanner module is shown at 1384 over the entrance/exit location to the assemblage 1266. Wall modules 1374-1377 along with terminator modules 1381, 1382 and 1300 along with their associated column modules and spanner modules also provide support for assemblage 1267. That assemblage also incorporates internal wall modules 1386-1391 and connecting terminator support modules 1394-1396. These modules also support column modules and unitary spanner modules. Note that spanner module 1398 extends above the entrance/exit to assemblage 1267.

Wall modules 1388-1391 are shared with assemblage 1268. That assemblage also incorporates internal wall modules as well as wall modules 1402-1405 which form a portion of the rear or back boundary of zone 1264. It is interesting to note that that back boundary will have the same appearance as the front boundary described in connection with FIG. 71. Wall modules 1400-1405 are interconnected with terminator support modules 1408-1410 as well as earlier-described terminator module 1296. These modules in turn, support column modules which are interconnected by unitary spanner modules. Spanner module 1412 is seen to extend over the entrance to assemblage 1268.

Continuing along the back elevation, assemblage 1269 is configured with rear boundary wall modules 1414-1417 and internal wall modules 1418-1423. These wall modules are interconnected with back boundary terminator support modules 1426-1428 and internal terminator support modules 1429-1431. These terminator support modules, in turn, support column modules which extend upwardly and are interconnected by unitary spanner modules. A spanner module 1434 is seen to extend above an entrance/exit to assemblage 1269.

Wall modules 1420-1423 are shared with assemblage 1270 which additionally is formed with internal wall modules 1436-1441. Those modules are interconnected with terminator support modules 1444-1446. The modules, in turn, support column modules, which column modules are interconnected adjacent their tops with unitary spanner modules. Such a spanner module at 1448 extends over the entrance/exit to assemblage 1270. Wall modules 1438-1440 along with terminator support modules 1445-1446 and 1338 are shared with assemblage 1271. That assemblage further includes wall modules 1450 and 1451 which are coupled with terminator support module 1454. The remainder of the assemblage 1271 is defined by the assemblage constituting the left boundary as well as the front boundary. All of the terminator support modules support column modules which in turn are interconnected by unitary spanner modules, one of which is seen at 1456 extending over the entrance/exit to assemblage 1271.

As discussed in connection with FIG. 34, assemblages 1266-1271 are configured with a roof-defining canopy assemblage, each having two components which reside at different angles to define clerestory emulating openings or open vertical panes which improve lighting as well as ventilation. The roof components at assemblage 1266 are seen at 1458 and 1459 which also are observed in profile in FIG. 71. In that figure, note that the clerestory emulating opening is located at 1460.

The roof structure of assemblage 1267 is comprised of components 1462 and 1463 which define an opening seen at FIG. 70 at 1464.

Assemblage 1268 is formed with roof components 1466 and 1467 which provide the opening 1468 shown in FIG. 70. Assemblage 1271 at the entrance boundary is seen to be configured with roof components 1470 and 1471 which, as seen in FIG. 71 defines an opening 1472.

Assemblage 1270 is provided with roof components 1474 and 1475 which also define an opening (now shown). Finally, assemblage 1269 is provided with roof components 1476 and 1477 which also define an opening (not shown).

Aisle or breezeway 1274 is seen to be defined by the inwardly facing entrance/exits and wall structures of assemblages 1266-1271 as well as by unitary spanner modules extending across adjacent columns and seen at 1480-1485. Flat overhead skylight panel 1488 is suspended between paired spanner modules 1480 and 1481. A flat overhead skylight panel 1489 is suspended between paired spanner modules 1482 and 1483, and a flat overhead skylight panel 1490 is suspended between spanner modules 1484 and 1485.

Shopping science investigators have also determined that there is a significant difference between the shopping habits of men and women. For instance, where men are accompanying women in retail facilities or zones dedicated to the interest of women, such accompanying men become bored and generally uncomfortable.

    • Men and women differ in just about every other way, so why shouldn't they shop differently, too? The conventional wisdom on male shoppers is that they don't especially like to do it, which is why they don't do much of it. It's a struggle just to get them to be patient company for a woman while she shops. As a result, the entire shopping experience—from packaging design to advertising to merchandising to store design and fixturing—is generally geared toward the female shopper.
    • Underhill (supra) p. 98
    • If I owned The Limited or Victoria's Secret, I'd have a place where a woman could check her husband—like a coat. There already exists a traditional space where men have always felt comfortable waiting around. It's called a barbershop. Instead of some ratty old chairs and back issues of Playboy and Boxing Illustrated, maybe there could be comfortable seats facing a big-screen TV tuned to ESPN or the cable channel that runs the bass-fishing program.
    • Underhill (supra) p. 103

The methodology and modular system of the invention also can be utilized to create small zones establishing a haven for the bored male accompanying a female shopper. Referring to FIGS. 72 and 73, such an enterprise zone is represented in general at 1496. Zone 1496 is configured with boundary defining modular assemblages 1498-1500. Assemblage 1498 is configured with wall modules 1502-1507 which are interconnected with terminator support modules 1510-1513. Each such terminator support module supports a column module and those column modules are connected by unitary spanner modules. In this regard, FIG. 73 shows column module 1516 as supported by terminator support module 1510 and column module 1517 supported by terminator support module 1513. Spanner modules 1518 are seen extending between those columns supported by terminator support modules 1511 and 1512. The roof structure for assemblage 1498 is represented generally at 1520 and is seen in FIG. 72 to be forwardly open and formed of tubing. Fabric may or may not be employed with the tube structure, such optional fabric being represented in FIG. 73 at dashed line 1522. Module 1498 may, for example, contain lounge chairs, reading materials, computer support facilities and the like.

Module assemblage 1499 shares wall modules 1506 and 1507 and is further configured with wall modules 1524-1528. Those wall modules are interconnected with earlier-described terminator support modules 1512 and 1513 and further are coupled with terminator support modules 1530-1532. These terminator support modules support column modules which, in turn, are interconnected with unitary spanner modules. FIG. 73 reveals column module 1517 supported from terminator support module 1513, column module 1534 supported from terminator support module 1532 and column module 1535 supported from terminator support module 1530. Spanner module 1538 is seen to extend between column modules 1517 and 1534. Terminator support modules 1530 and 1531 define an entrance/exit seen in FIG. 72 in general at 1540; and the assemblage 1499 is configured with a tube implemented roof structure represented generally at 1542 which is joined with roof structure 1520 and may incorporate a fabric covering as represented at dashed line 1544. An outrigger canopy is represented generally at 154,6 and as seen in FIG. 72, may be implemented with outrigger tubes 1548 and 1549 along with a fabric covering represented by dashed line 1550 in FIG. 72. Assemblage 1499 may be furnished, for instance, with a video screen providing visual programs suited to male endeavors as well as lounge chairs and the like. Seating also may be located beneath outrigger canopy 1546.

Module assemblage 1496 is spaced from assembly 1499 and, as seen in FIG. 72 is formed with wall modules 1552-1555 which are interconnected with terminator support modules 1558-1560. Each of these terminator support modules supports a column module. In this regard, FIG. 73 reveals column module 1562 supported from terminator support module 1559 and column module 1563 supported from terminator support module 1560. Unitary spanner modules extend between the column modules, paired spanner module 1564 being seen in the latter figure. The corner-shaped assemblage 1496 is configured with a tube implemented roof structure represented generally at 1566 which may be covered with fabric as represented at dashed line 1568. Additionally, structure 1566 is configured with a tube implemented outrigger canopy represented generally at 1570. Canopy 1570 is seen in FIG. 72 to be formed with two outrigger tubes 1572 and 1573 which are supportive of a fabric covering represented by dashed line 1575.

As indicated earlier herein, the preferred embodiment for the system and method at hand is one wherein the tongue-and-groove joint structures are configured with mutually engageable integrally formed interlocks. The spanners are unitary for providing a 10 feet or greater span distance and are configured with oppositely outwardly depending tabs which engage column slots. This engagement is secured with laterally disposed spaced apart detent defining components which abuttably engage the walls defining a column slot.

FIGS. 74 and 75 illustrate a basic assemblage of the preferred module structuring, such assemblage being represented in general at 1580. As described in connection with FIGS. 1 and 2, typically a grouping of such modules incorporating the features of the assembly 1580 will be arranged in place following a determination of one or more boundaries of a zone. As before, those boundaries of the zone will correspond with the characteristics of its function, for instance, retail marketing of a certain type of goods, as well as the attendees of the zone, for example, shoppers. Assembly 1580 includes two moveable terminator support modules represented generally in FIG. 74 at 1582 and 1584. Terminator support modules 1582 and 1584 provide a termination of a low wall structure represented generally at 1586. To enhance the 3-dimensional aspect of this localizing system, generally obelisk-shaped column modules may be removably connected to the support tops of terminator support modules 1582 and 1584. Two such column modules are represented in general at 1588 and 1590. The height of these columns may vary. For instance, for outdoor use they may reach about 10 feet from the zone surface and for special functions such as defining an entranceway their height above that surface may reach about 14 feet. The tops of column modules 1588 and 1590 are identified respectively at 1592 and 1594 and are seen to be configured with a generally shallow truncated pyramidal shape. As revealed in FIG. 75, the very top of the columns are configured with an accessory-receiving receptor cavity shown respectively at 1596 and 1598 which extend axially inwardly from the top. Those receptor cavities may receive a variety of accessories, for example, a roof-defining canopy (not shown) or dynamic wind responsive devices which may be implemented as shown with pennant-shaped flag assemblies represented generally at 1600 and 1602. In general, these flags are employed in outdoor settings. Such flags will protrude about 3½ feet above the column tops as at 1592 and 1594. The flag assemblies are formed with an aluminum flag pole as shown respectively at 1604 and 1606. Poles 1604 and 1606 terminate in respective finials 1608 and 1610. Preferably, these flags as at 1612 and 1614 are formed with a long chain synthetic polymeric amid having the generic designation, nylon. The flags function as sight stimulators particularly in an outdoor environment. Experimentation has demonstrated that the nylon fabric functions better than other fabrics for this sight stimulation function.

Removably connected between column modules 1588 and 1590 is a spanner represented generally at 1616. Spanner 1616 is a unitary module, not being formed with two distinct modules and having a length suited to stand between columns which are spaced apart a ten foot length of wall 1586. Spanner modules as at 1616 are formed with lateral spanner flutes as at 1618 and 1620 at each lateral side, such lateral sides being shown at 1622 and 1624 in FIG. 75. As seen in FIG. 74, at the end of each of the flutes as at 1618 and 1620 are slots 1626-1629 which extend through the modules and function to support signage and the like. The unitary spanner modules as at 1616 are configured with integrally formed spanner module spanner connectors as represented generally at 1632 and 1634.

Returning to the low wall structure 1586 as seen in FIG. 74, structure 1586 is configured with two wall modules represented generally at 1636 and 1638. Each of the wall modules 1636 and 1638 has a wall length of about 5 feet extending between wall connecting ends. The separable union between wall modules 1636 and 1638 is represented as a joint structure line 1640. Where the involved enterprise is outdoor merchandising, for example, of lawn and garden products, a resultant length of wall 1586 of about ten feet has been found to represent an ideal merchandising width. Wall modules 1636 and 1638 are structured having a flat wall bottom shown in FIG. 74 respectively at 1642 and 1644. Those wall bottoms are configured having integrally formed drainage channels shown at 1646-1649. The spacing between these channels for each wall module also functions to accommodate the tines of a fork lift truck. Wall modules 1636 and 1638 exhibit a common wall width as seen in FIG. 75 and a wall height which locates a wall top shown respectively at 1652 and 1654. Tops 1652 and 1654 are at a common elevation corresponding with a wall height. That height will be between about 2 feet and about 4 feet, a preferred height having been found to be 2 feet, 2 inches. The wall modules 1636 and 1638 are formed as polymeric shells and, for outdoor utilization are inherently configured to provide a ballast receiving portion which may be filled, for example, with a ballast such as water or other suitable liquid as well as sand. A liquid may also be drained following utilization of the module.

Looking again to terminator support modules 1582 and 1584, FIG. 74 reveals that they extend from a support bottom shown respectively at 1656 and 1658 which rests upon the zone surface. Additionally, the terminator support modules extend a support height to a support top represented generally at 1660 and 1662. Tops 1660 and 1662 are at a height above the zone surface greater than the height of wall module tops 1652 and 1654. The hollow polymeric shell structure of the terminator support modules also may be filled with a ballast such as liquid, sand or the like.

Returning to unitary spanner module 1616, it may be observed in FIG. 74 that with the spanner connector configurations as at 1632 and 1634, no taper corresponding with the taper of columns 1588 and 1590 is called for. Spanner module 1616 may also support signage, netting or the like in the manner described in connection with FIG. 1.

As before, all of the modules are configured as generally hollow polymeric shells. In general, these shells are formed by spin casting or roto-casting, a process wherein a polymeric powder is placed within a female mold which is heated and rotated to distribute the now melting polymer against the mold surface by centrifugal action. The polymer employed may, for example, be polyethylene. Looking to FIG. 76, column module 1590 reappears in sectional view. For the instant demonstration, the region of column module 1590 adjacent its top 1594 is shown with four column connectors 1664-1667 formed within respective column sides or walls 1670-1673. Those sides define walls of column connectors 1664-1667 which, in turn, are generally configured as somewhat upwardly open slots. While four column connectors 1664-1667 are shown in FIG. 76, that number may vary as discussed above in connection with FIGS. 25-30. Looking additionally to FIG. 77, the opposite end of spanner module 1616 is revealed in association with column 1588. Note that column 1588 is configured with a column connector 1676 formed as a generally upwardly open slot formed within column side or wall 1678. The spanner connector 1632 is configured as an outwardly extending tab 1680, the upper regions of which are formed with laterally oppositely disposed arrays 1682 and 1684 of spaced apart detent defining components. Note that the upper region of the column connector 1676 slot as at 1686 is configured as a “T”. Such that as the tab 1680 is inserted within connector 1676 the detent defining components may pass through upper region 1686, whereupon the spanner module is lowered to seat within the connector 1676. Returning to FIG. 76, such a seated orientation is shown in connection with spanner connector 1634 and column connector 1664. Spanner connector 1634 is configured with an integrally formed tab 1688 with laterally oppositely disposed arrays 1690 and 1692 of detent defining components which slidably abuttably engage the oppositely disposed walls of the slot-type column connector 1664.

Looking to FIGS. 78 and 79, a spanner module of a lengthier unitary type is represented in general at 1700. Spanner module 1700 is dimensioned so as to span between columns spaced between two wall modules in the manner described in connection with FIG. 74. Module 1700 is configured as a polymeric shell having a spanner body portion 1702 formed with two elongate flutes as at 1704 and 1705 which function both for aesthetic purposes as well as to enhance the structural integrity of the module. The ends of each of these flutes 1704 and 1705 are configured with through slots as identified at 1708-1711 in FIG. 78. As noted above, these slots function to support signage and the like. Spanner module body portion 1702 extends between internally formed spanner connectors represented generally at 1714 and 1716. These connectors are configured respectively with tabs 1718 and 1720 which, in turn, support laterally oppositely disposed and aligned detent defining components, an array of four of such components being located at each side of the spanner module. In this regard, FIG. 79 shows spanner module sides 1722 and 1724. Side 1722 incorporates detent defining component arrays 1726 and 1727, while side 1724 is formed with detent component defining arrays 1728 and 1729. The configuration of column connectors and spanner connectors described in the FIGS. 76-79 has an additional advantageous aspect in that the spanners may accommodate for slight variations in elevation of the zone surfaces as may be encountered, for example, in a parking lot located zone.

Looking to FIG. 80, a spanner module represented generally at 1730 is depicted. Module 1730 is configured with nominally one half the length of spanner module 1700. For example, to perform in conjunction with a single wall module having a length of about 5 feet. Module 1730 is shown with a spanner body portion 1732 which incorporates a single elongate flute 1734 which extends between laterally disposed through-slots 1736 and 1737. The module 1730 is formed with spanner connectors shown generally at 1740 and 1742 which are configured identically as spanner connectors 1714 and 1716 described in FIGS. 78 and 79. In this regard, connector 1740 is configured with a tab portion 1744, while spanner connector 1742 is configured with a tab portion 1746. Two detent defining arrays are seen at 1748 and 1749. Identical arrays (not shown) are located on the opposite sides of tabs 1744 and 1746.

Looking to FIG. 81, a free standing wall module is represented in general at 1750. Module 1750 has a zone surface engageable bottom 1752 which is additionally revealed in FIG. 82. The module has a wall length of about 5 feet which extends between wall connecting ends represented generally at 1754 and 1756. Module 1750 exhibits a wall height at a wall top 1758 and includes wall sides 1760 and 1762 as seen in FIG. 82. Note that top 1758 is configured with a ballast fill port and plug assembly 1764. As before, the wall sides, for example at 1760 are configured with integrally formed buttresses, one of which is seen in FIGS. 81 and 83 at 1766. These buttresses, in addition to contributing to the aesthetic aspects of the system, function to provide stability to these free-standing modules. FIGS. 81 and 83 further reveal that these aesthetics as well as the structural integrity of the modules are enhanced by spaced apart vertical flutes as at 1768 and 1770. FIG. 81 reveals a ballast removal port and plug assembly 1772. All connecting ends as at 1754 and 1756 are configured as an integrally formed component of a tongue-and-groove joint. For example, FIGS. 81-85 reveal an integrally formed tongue component represented generally at 1774 and generally configured as described in connection with FIGS. 3-9. However, tongue component 1754 is configured with an outwardly disposed male interlock portion 1776, while the groove configuration at connecting end 1756 as represented in general at 1778 in FIGS. 82 and 83 is configured with an inwardly disposed female interlock portion 1780. FIGS. 81-83 further reveal the location of spaced apart drainage channels 1782 and 1784.

For installations wherein two wall modules are joined as described at wall 1586 in FIGS. 74 and 75, joint line 1640 will represent the abutment of two groove-type joint components. Accordingly, to interconnect the wall modules at such location, a polymeric spline is employed. Looking to FIGS. 84 and 85, a polymeric spline is represented in general at 1790. Spline 1790 closely resembles that shown at 224 in FIGS. 19 and 20 but without incorporation of locking pin channels. The wall spline is configured with tongue defining sides 1792 and 1794 having corresponding respective canted tops 1796 and 1798. Note that the spline tongue defining sides 1792 and 1794 are configured with outwardly disposed spline interlock portions shown respectively at 1800 and 1802. These interlocks are configured to engage mutually oppositely disposed female interlocks of the adjoining wall components, for example, as seen at 1780 in FIGS. 82 and 83. Connection is made by slidably maneuvering the groove 1778 over one tongue component, for example, at 1792 in a manner wherein the female interlock of the tongue joint component is engaged with the corresponding interlock, for example, as at 1800 of the spline. It may be observed in connection with FIGS. 81-85 that no locking pin channels are present in the tongue-and-groove joint components of the instant embodiment. The interlocks develop an improved connection.

The terminator support modules as described in general at 1582 and 1584 in FIG. 74 also are structured as polymeric shells. Referring to FIGS. 86-88 a terminator module is represented in general at 1810. FIGS. 86 and 88 reveal that the module 1810 extends from a support bottom 1812 engageable with the zone surface. A support top represented generally at 1814 in FIGS. 86 and 88 is spaced above the support bottom 1812 a support height greater than the earlier-described wall height. For instance, where the wall height is at a preferred 2 feet 2 inches, the support height preferably is 2 feet 6 inches. FIG. 87 reveals that the module 1810 is configured with 4 sides 1816-1819. These sides define a width greater than the width of the wall modules as at 1750. in this regard, where the wall module width is 1 foot two inches, the corresponding support width is 1 foot 6 inches. Sides 1816-1819 may be configured with a flute structuring for aesthetic as well as structural purposes, such a flute is revealed at 1820 in FIG. 86 and at 1822 in FIG. 88. FIGS. 86 and 88 reveal the presence of a support cavity represented generally at 1824, the cavity bottom 1826 of which is configured with a ballast fill port and plug assembly seen in FIG. 86 at 1828. It may be observed that the cavity 1824 is configured as a socket, having a square cross section. It is dimensioned to slidably receive a male column plug connector as described, for example, in connection with FIGS. 21, 23 and 24. Cavity 1824 also may be utilized to support decorative accessories other than a column, for example, floral arrangements, fountains, wall terminating light fixtures and the like. To retain column modules in place, a locking pin channel as at 1830 may be provided.

Terminator support module 1810 further is configured having a one or more terminator connectors, one of which is seen represented in general at 1832 in FIGS. 86-88. FIG. 87 shows additional potential locations for terminator connectors at 1833-1835. Such locations have, for example, been discussed in connection with FIGS. 14-18. Terminator connector 1832 is seen to be configured as a groove component of a tongue-and-groove joint having the overall shape described in connection with FIGS. 12 and 13 but incorporating the inwardly disposed female interlock portion 1838 as seen in FIGS. 87 and 88. FIG. 87 reveals similar female interlock portions 1839-1841. Accordingly, where a wall module as at 1750 is coupled to a terminator support module as at 1810, the latter module is slidably lowered down over the tongue component as at 1754 (FIG. 83) of a wall module.

Since certain changes may be made in the above method and system without departing from the scope of the invention herein involved, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.