Title:
Modular wall, inventory display and product and service marketing systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A three piece modular wall system and an inventory display system and product and service marketing system are provided. The modular wall system includes “View Panels”, “Face Panels”, and “Slat-Wall Panels”. The display and marketing system include backlit sign boxes, billboards projected on the inside and outside of the perimeter walls, and inventory display towers.



Inventors:
Shernaman, Jo (Columbia, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/219397
Publication Date:
06/29/2006
Filing Date:
09/02/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F10/00
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Primary Examiner:
FERENCE, JAMES M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DENTONS US LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A modular wall system comprising: a view panel; a face panel; and a slat-wall panel.

2. The modular wall system as claimed in claim 1 wherein said view panel comprises randomly alternating clear and frosted window panes.

3. The modular wall system as claimed in claim 1 wherein said face panel includes a decorative metal laminate on at least one side of said face panel.

4. The modular wall system as claimed in claim 3 wherein said face panel includes a slat-wall surface on a side of said face panel opposite said decorative metal laminate.

5. The modular wall system as claimed in claim 1 wherein said slat-wall panel includes a slat-wall surface on at least one side of said slat-wall panel.

6. The modular wall system as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a continuous top track for connecting together adjoining ones of said view panel, said face panel and said slat-wall panel.

7. The modular wall system as claimed in claim 6 wherein said top track is hollow.

8. The modular wall system as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a bottom rail for connecting together adjoining ones of said view panel, said face panel and said slat-wall panel.

9. A display and marketing system for a facility comprising: a display or marketing feature located towards the top of a perimeter wall of the facility.

10. The display and marketing system as claims in claim 9 wherein said display or marketing feature comprises multiple sign boxes arranged in staggered relation.

11. The display and marketing system as claims in claim 9 wherein said display or marketing feature comprises a projected billboard.

12. The display and marketing system as claims in claim 11 wherein said projected billboard is located on an exterior surface of the perimeter wall.

13. The display and marketing system as claims in claim 9 wherein said display or marketing feature comprises an inventory display tower.

14. The display and marketing system as claims in claim 13 wherein said inventory display tower extends from below the top of the interior wall.

15. The display and marketing system as claims in claim 13 wherein said inventory display tower includes vertically spaced-apart storage locations.

16. The display and marketing system as claims in claim 13 wherein said inventory display towers include lights and a mirrored surface behind said storage locations.

17. A display and marketing system comprising: a first sign box including a first display panel; and a second sign box including a second display panel; wherein said first sign box and said second sign box are arranged in a staggered position.

18. The display and marketing system as claimed in claim 17 wherein said first and second sign boxes each include a backlight.

19. The display and marketing system as claimed in claim 17 wherein said first and second display panels are combined together to form a message.

20. The display and marketing system as claimed in claim 19 wherein said first and second display panels are oriented such that said message is aligned while said first and second sign boxes are in said staggered position.

Description:

This application claims priority pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/607,049, filed Sep. 2, 2004, and to co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. ______, filed Sep. 2, 2005, the entire disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to modular wall, inventory display and product and service marketing systems. More particularly, the present invention is concerned with a modular wall system for creating segregated spaces within a facility, and inventory display and product and service marketing systems for use in a facility having relatively tall perimeter walls, such as a vehicle showroom. The inventory display and product and service marketing components of the present invention is particularly useful in conjunction with the modular wall system of the instant invention.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Vehicle sales facilities often include several separate areas or departments in which physical segregation from one another is often desirable. For example, in a motorcycle sales facility, it is desirable to physically segregate the showroom floor, which includes samples of motorcycles, ATV's, personal watercraft, scooters and the like, from an accessory/parts area. At the same time it is desirable in a facility such as a motorcycle dealership, to provide segregated areas that are visually inviting, so that customers in one segregated area are drawn into adjacent areas. Such an arrangement allows purchasers of motorcycles to easily view and consider purchase of the numerous accessories (such as helmets, goggles, clothing, saddle-bags, etc.) offered for sale at the dealership that can be purchased to enhance the purchaser's enjoyment of the motorcycle.

At many facilities, it is desirable to periodically rearrange space allocation between departments to accommodate changing needs in the facility and to optimize space usage within each department. Dividers and modular wall systems are well known to create multiple segregated areas from a single space that can easily be rearranged. Such modular wall systems are often utilized to create multiple work areas, called “cubicles”, within an open area. Nevertheless, the systems of the prior art are intended primarily to create separation and a level of privacy between areas. As such, these prior art systems do not create segregated areas that are visually inviting to observers from outside the segregated area, and are therefore not desirable for use in facilities such as motorcycle dealerships. Therefore, it would be beneficial to provide a modular wall system for facilities such as motorcycle dealerships that visually invites a customer to view products located in an area segregated from the customer.

In many facilities having tall walls, such as motorcycle dealership showrooms, the full height of the perimeter walls of the facility (which are generally visible throughout the facility) are typically not utilized at all. Inside the facility, the portions of the perimeter wall that are above the height of any standard shelving, display racks, interior walls, or other items within the facility, are merely painted or camouflaged. There is no attempt to visually invite a customer into a particular area, or to display or market any products or services. Therefore, it would be beneficial to provide inventory display and product/service marketing systems that utilize the traditionally unused portions of taller perimeter walls of a facility.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the instant invention is to provide a wall system for facilities such as motorcycle dealerships that visually invites a customer to view products located in an area segregated from the customer. Another object of the instant invention is to provide a visually inviting wall system that can be easily rearranged to accommodate changing needs. Yet another object of the invention is to provide a wall system that creates a visually inviting, yet segregated area that also increases accessory (such as motorcycle accessories) display space in a facility. Still another object of the instant invention is to provide inventory display and product/service marketing display systems that utilize the traditionally unused portions of taller perimeter walls of a facility, such as a motorcycle dealership.

A preferred embodiment of the instant invention is discussed herein in which the segregated area is an accessory area for a motorcycle dealership. The objects of the instant invention are accomplished through the use of a three piece modular wall system, including “View Panels”, “Face Panels”, and “Slat-Wall Panels”; and through the use of unique display and/or marketing features. The display/marketing features include backlit sign boxes, billboards projected on the inside and outside of the perimeter walls, and inventory display towers.

The “View Panels” invite the customer to see through the wall system to the products displayed in the segregated area. In a preferred embodiment of the instant invention, the “View Panels” each comprise a wall of eight (8) randomly alternating clear and frosted window panes. The panes are connected together by a 1 ¾ inch satin aluminum window frame inset. The aluminum widow frame is inset in ¾ inch maple plywood frame that is bolted to two 3 ¼ inch square black wood posts.

The “Face Panels” are used to add aisle space within the segregated accessory area. In a preferred embodiment, each “Face Panel” includes a decorative metal laminate (such as Chemetal, Vortex collection #431 “Maze”) inset within a frame of ¾ inch maple plywood with a clear finish that is bolted to two 3 ¼ inch square black wood posts. In a preferred embodiment of the invention in use in a motorcycle dealership, the laminate faces the showroom floor. The back side of each “Face Panel” faces the accessory area and includes a full aluminum “Slat-Wall Panel”. The slat-wall side is productive for hanging and displaying accessories, while the showroom side provides an attractive look that does not distract from the display of motorcycles, ATV's, etc., and which does not consume valuable showroom space.

The “Slat-Wall Panels” each include an etched and anodized finished slat-wall section surrounded by matching aluminum channel, inset into a maple 2×4 “H” frame with clear finish. A black wood separator is included between adjoining Slat-Wall Panels to provide a shadow line. In situations where the “Slat-Wall Panel” is to be located entirely within a segregated area (i.e. the accessory area) both sides of the panel will be identical. Otherwise, if a panel is to divide two areas from each other, a “Face Panel” (described above) is used in which one side is the decorative metal laminate, and the other is the slat-wall. The surface of the slat-walls provide an easy means for mounting hooks, shelving and other items for display.

All adjoining panels (whether “View Panels”, “Face Panels” or “Slat Wall Panels”) of the instant invention are connected together by a continuous top track. The top track can include ornamentation or a textual message, such as the dealership name or vehicle's brand. In a preferred embodiment, the ornamentation is a decal positioned on the top track. “View Panels” and “Face Panels” of the instant invention are also connected together by a bottom rail which can also include ornamentation. The top track of the instant invention is hollow to act as a raceway for hiding wiring (i.e. category 5, power, telephone, etc.) to cashier pods located within the segregated area.

The backlit sign boxes are mounted to a perimeter wall towards the top of the wall. When used inside a facility, the sign boxes are mounted at a height on the perimeter wall that is above the top of any interior walls (such as any modular walls) such that the sign is visible throughout the facility. Typically, the sign will be positioned on a wall directly opposing the main entrance to the facility, such that it is viewed immediately upon a customer's entry into the facility. The sign boxes each include a display panel and a light positioned behind the display panel to illuminate the panel. Multiple sign boxes make up a single sign. The boxes are mounted next to each other, but in a staggered relationship to provide an appearance that resembles a city skyline including skyscrapers of varying heights. The sign may include the name of the facility or some other textual message that is placed on the display panels of the boxes. In a preferred embodiment, although the sign boxes are staggered, the text is positioned on each panel such that the message (i.e. dealership name) is aligned for easy reading. Because the message is aligned, each panel may include a single letter, multiple letters, or portions of a letter. In addition, the panels may include images representative of the products and/or services offered at the facility. In a preferred embodiment, the images include an outdoor background, blending impressions of the sky towards the top of a panel and land towards the bottom of the panel, to add to the skyscraper appearance of the sign.

The billboards of the instant invention may include either still or motion displays. In one embodiment of the instant invention, the billboards are projected onto the interior surface of the perimeter walls (i.e. inside the facility) above the top of any interior walls (such as any modular walls) such that the billboard is visible throughout the facility. In another embodiment, the billboards are projected onto the exterior surface of the perimeter walls (i.e. outside the facility) to attract attention to the facility. In the interior embodiment, the projectors may be permanently mounted to the ceiling or walls inside the facility. In a preferred embodiment, four separate high end digital projectors are mounted to project four independent billboards within the four corners of the facility. The billboards may be projected on screens attached to the walls, or on directly onto the walls themselves. Each such billboard includes a different topic and in a preferred embodiment, each topic focuses on items that are located in the same quadrant in which the billboard is located so as to draw consumers to the appropriate location to find desired goods or services. Also, in another preferred embodiment, in addition to the video display, the billboards will include audio. The audio for a billboard is set at a volume level so that it is primarily only heard by customers located in the quadrant of the facility in which the billboard is located. In this manner, the audio of multiple billboards will not interfere with each other. In one embodiment, the projectors are wirelessly connected to a central server within the facility. The central server controls the content of the billboards, allowing virtually instantaneous modifications to be made to any of the projected billboards at any time. In still another embodiment, the central server may be accessed from a remote location (such as via telephone, internet, etc.) to control the content of the billboards. This allows immediate updates to billboards in multiple facilities. This is particularly useful for motorcycle or automobile sales facilities, in which multiple facilities are owned or controlled by a single entity. Promotions can be made to be consistent throughout all facilities under common control, or different promotions can be made at different facilities, all at the discretion of the controlling entity, which is located away from at least some of the facilities.

In the exterior billboard embodiment, the billboard is projected onto the exterior of the facility. The projector can be manned by an employee outside the facility, or automatically controlled in a manner similar to the interior embodiments. In the event the projector is automatically controlled, the projector may be permanently mounted outside the facility using a security box (similar to those used for exterior security cameras) that protects the projector from theft, moisture and which cools the projector. In one embodiment, the billboard is projected directly onto the wall of the facility. In another embodiment, a screen is placed over the wall of the facility and/or over any windows to the facility to provide a surface for the projection. The screen by be permanently mounted to the exterior of the facility. In a preferred embodiment, especially when the screen is permanently mounted, the screen is retractable during periods of nonuse.

The inventory display towers of the instant invention extend above the top of any interior walls (such as any modular walls) such that the tops of the towers are visible throughout the facility. The towers include vertically spaced-apart storage and display locations for placement of items of inventory. In a preferred embodiment, each storage location contains a single item of inventory, and each storage location includes a glass shelf for supporting the item. In another preferred embodiment, the top of each tower is made staggered with the top of any other towers located on either side of that tower, to provide an appearance that resembles a city skyline including skyscrapers of varying heights. In addition, mirrors are located behind the items being stored and displayed and strings of lights are positioned behind the items to make the towers glitter like skyscrapers and draw attention to the items being stored and displayed.

The foregoing and other objects are intended to be illustrative of the invention and are not meant in a limiting sense. Many possible embodiments of the invention may be made and will be readily evident upon a study of the following specification and accompanying drawings comprising a part thereof. Various features and subcombinations of invention may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. Other objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein is set forth by way of illustration and example, an embodiment of this invention and various features thereof.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A preferred embodiment of the invention, illustrative of the best mode in which the applicant has contemplated applying the principles, is set forth in the following description and is shown in the drawings and is particularly and distinctly pointed out and set forth in the appended claims.

FIG. 1a shows front views of the “View Panels”, “Face Panels”, and “Slat-Wall Panels” of a preferred embodiment of the instant invention for a “HONDA” motorcycle dealership.

FIG. 1b shows a plan view of an accessory area for a motorcycle dealership utilizing the modular wall system of the instant invention.

FIG. 2 shows a backlit sign of the instant invention located above the top of a modular wall system of the instant invention.

FIG. 3 shows an exterior billboards of the instant invention.

FIG. 4 shows inventory display towers of the instant invention partially located behind the modular wall system of the instant invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

As required, a detailed embodiment of the present inventions is disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiment is merely exemplary of the principles of the invention, which may be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure.

Referring to FIG. 1a front views of the panels of the three piece modular wall system of the instant invention are shown, including “View Panels” 10, “Face Panels” 20, and “Slat-Wall Panels” 30. Referring to FIG. 1b, a plan view of an accessory area for a motorcycle dealership utilizing the modular wall system of the instant invention is shown.

“View Panels” 10 invite the customer to see through the wall system to the products displayed in segregated areas 100 (shown in FIG. 1b). “View Panels” 10 each comprise a wall of eight (8) randomly alternating clear and frosted window panes 12. Panes 12 are connected together by 1 ¾ inch satin aluminum window frame inset 14. Aluminum widow frame 14 is inset in ¾ inch maple plywood frame 16 that is bolted to two 3 ¼ inch square black wood posts 18 by bolts 19.

“Face Panels” 20 are used to add aisle space within segregated accessory area 100. Each “Face Panel” 20 includes decorative metal laminate 22 (such as Chemetal, Vortex collection #431 “Maze”) inset within frame 26 of ¾ inch maple plywood with a clear finish that is bolted to two 3 ¼ inch square black wood posts 28 by bolts 29. In the motorcycle dealership depicted in FIG. 1b, laminate 22 faces showroom floor 200. The back side of each “Face Panel” 20 faces accessory area 100 and includes a slat-wall surface. The slat-wall side is productive for hanging and displaying accessories, while the laminate side provides an attractive look that does not distract from the display of motorcycles, ATV's, etc., and which does not consume valuable showroom space.

“Slat-Wall Panels” 30 each include etched and anodized finished slat-wall section 32 surrounded by a matching aluminum channel, inset into a maple 2×4 “H” frame 36 with clear finish. A black wood separator 38 is included between adjoining ones of Slat-Wall Panels 30 to provide a shadow line. In situations where a “Slat-Wall Panel” 30 is to be located entirely within segregated accessory area 100, both sides of the panel will be identical. Otherwise, if a panel is to divide two areas from each other, “Face Panel” 20 is used in which one side is the decorative metal laminate, and the other is the slat-wall. The surface of the slat-walls provide an easy means for mounting hooks, shelving and other items for display.

All adjoining panels (whether “View Panels”, “Face Panels” or “Slat Wall Panels”) of the instant invention are connected together by continuous top track 40. Top track 40 can include ornamentation or a textual message, such as the dealership name or vehicle's brand. “View Panels” 10 and “Face Panels” 30 of the instant invention are also connected together by bottom rail 50 which can also include ornamentation. Top track 40 of the instant invention is hollow to act as a raceway for hiding wiring (i.e. category 5, power, telephone, etc.) to cashier pods 60 located within segregated area 100.

Referring to FIG. 2, backlit sign boxes 70 are mounted to a perimeter wall towards the top of the wall at a height above the tops of panels 10, 20, and 30 (not shown in FIG. 2). Sign boxes 70 each include display panel 71 and a light positioned behind display panel 71 to illuminate panel 71. Multiple sign boxes 70 make up a single sign 75. Boxes 70 are mounted next to each other in a staggered relationship. Sign 75 may include the name of the facility or some other textual message, 72, that is placed on display panels 71 of boxes 70. Although sign boxes 70 are staggered, text 72 is positioned on each panel 71 such that message 72 is aligned for easy reading. Panels 71 include images representative of the products and/or services offered at the facility and/or an outdoor background, blending impressions of the sky towards the top of a panel and land towards the bottom of the panel.

Referring to FIG. 3, billboards 80 and 82 of the instant invention are shown on the exterior of a building. Projector 81 projects billboard 80 directly onto the wall of the facility. Projector 83 projects billboard 82 onto retractable screen 85 which is placed over the wall of the facility and over the windows to the facility to provide a surface for the projection.

Referring to FIG. 4, inventory display towers 90 of the instant invention are shown partially located behind slat wall panels 30. Towers 90 each include vertically spaced-apart storage and display locations 92 for placement of items 93. Each storage location 92 includes glass shelf 94 for supporting item 93. As is shown in FIG. 4, the top of each tower 90 is made staggered with the top of any other towers located on either side of that tower. Mirrors 96 are located behind items 93 being stored and displayed and strings of lights 98 are positioned behind items 93.

In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness and understanding; but no unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirements of the prior art, because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed. Moreover, the description and illustration of the inventions is by way of example, and the scope of the inventions is not limited to the exact details shown or described.

Although the foregoing detailed description of the present invention has been described by reference to an exemplary embodiment, and the best mode contemplated for carrying out the present invention has been shown and described, it will be understood that certain changes, modification or variations may be made in embodying the above invention, and in the construction thereof, other than those specifically set forth herein, may be achieved by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, and that such changes, modification or variations are to be considered as being within the overall scope of the present invention. Therefore, it is contemplated to cover the present invention and any and all changes, modifications, variations, or equivalents that fall with in the true spirit and scope of the underlying principles disclosed and claimed herein. Consequently, the scope of the present invention is intended to be limited only by the attached claims, all matter contained in the above description and shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

Having now described the features, discoveries and principles of the invention, the manner in which the invention is constructed and used, the characteristics of the construction, and advantageous, new and useful results obtained; the new and useful structures, devices, elements, arrangements, parts and combinations, are set forth in the appended claims.

It is also to be understood that the following claims are intended to cover all of the generic and specific features of the invention herein described, and all statements of the scope of the invention which, as a matter of language, might be said to fall therebetween.