Design Document: Convenience Stories
- What’s the narrative?
The city of Toronto has had an extreme issue with gentrification and convenience stores are a line of business that have been impacted significantly. These once thriving community hubs are now being driven out and forced to close down due to higher rent rates. Convenience stores are important not only for the products they provide, but also the way they serve as a key community hub. They represent a child’s first sense of freedom, the coming together of strangers, and the trust that one places in his or her community.
- Who are the stakeholders?
The primary stakeholders are the convenience store owners. These owners maintain strong relationships with their customers and community members, and also work hard to provide basic goods and services needed by the community. Another key stakeholder is the community member. The community member shops at the convenience store, and helps the convenience store stay in business. Another less obvious, yet key, stakeholder are landlords. Landlords are responsible for renting out their spaces at fair prices, so that convenient stores are able to afford their rent and stay in business. While the monetary cycle between these stakeholders is obvious, they also all work together to create a sense of community and comfort within these stores, which is taken away when stores are forced to close.
- What are their needs?
The primary need of the convenience store owner is profit. With rent going up, it is important for convenience stores to sell enough so that they are able to manage the high rent, while still being able to make profit. Unfortunately, with the abundance of convenience stores, it can be hard for many of the stores to have enough sustained business, leading to many of them to shut down. As stated in its name, the customer expects “convenience” out of a convenience store. This is achieved by the store having close proximity to one’s home and having most, if not all, of the items that one needs. With the plethora of convenience stores, it seems that most people do not struggle with gaining this convenience. Landlords, like the stores, need to be able to make money. As a result of the increased building and change of people in the area, landlords respond by raising rent. Unfortunately, this causes many small and local shops who cannot afford this rent to be kicked from their location.
- What are the conflicts?
Convenience stores are sometimes not able to sustain themselves because they do not get enough business to pay off their rising rent. Especially on Queen Street, there are a bunch of convenience stores, so it could be tough for convenience stores to differentiate themselves from other stores. The main conflict with customers is that there are so many different convenience stores they can shop at, but can only choose one. As a result they choose their primary store based on a variety of factors, such as proximity to their homes, prices, and trust with store owners. Landlords need to respond to the increasing growth and build of Toronto, and as a result raise their rent. Though the raising costs do not benefit local business, the landlord wants to make more money.
- What is the audience?
Right off the bat this product would be appealing to a younger audience. The product is currently on a smartphone app, and it would generally attract people who would be interested in this sort of media. However, if shown to the landlords who have increased the rent, this could be very eye opening. Even though these are most likely middle-aged people who wouldn’t find this sort of app on their own, it could make a huge impact with proper advertising. The intended audience is the landlords, but if this became popular with a younger audience, it would create attention needed for older audiences to see it and to see the point.
Design for Interaction:
- Experience Map
|Stimulus (Objective)||Response (Subjective)|
|Attraction||QR codes in front of convenience store||Store owner recommends the app to customers||Customer grabs phone to scan code||Customers buy food from store and eat that as they scan code||The fresh scent of a variety of products in store||Curious about what the QR code entails|
|Entry||The Hoverlay app loads onto their phone and their camera activates||The sounds in the store and cars outside||The friction of their smartphone against their hand||The food they were eating earlier is finished, eat some mint gum||The scent of the store is changing as customers walk in and out||The curiosity increases as the options begin to fill the screen|
|Engagement||Photos start to hover in the surrounding area||If they decide to press the sound, then some recordings will play||They touch their screen to uncover more information about the convenience store||The mint gum still has flavor||The customer breathes some fresh air as the app guides them outside||The customer feels satisfaction as they discover new things in the app|
|Exit||The app closes as the customer’s battery runs low||The different audio clips play one last time before the app closes||The customer locks their phone to save battery||The mint gum has no more mint flavor||The smell of a cold breeze indicates that it might rain soon. They should head home||The customer feels a sense of appreciation for the information learned|
|Extension||Future coupon codes and deals are advertised to gain repeat customers||The owner will tell the customers to use the app again||The customer will feel a vibration on their phone from the reminder to use the app again||The pack of mint gum has run out, so the customer has bad breath. Has to go buy more gum||The smell of the customer’s house just isn’t as inviting as the convenience store. Has to go back to the store||The customer feels boredom with the other AR smartphone apps, so they will eventually come back to Hoverlay|
- The 5 E’s
- Effective: The product will help the user experience more than just the products that the store provides. With all the links possible, the user will be able to get a sense of the store’s importance of the community by viewing descriptions of the store, interactions with store owners and customers, and the changing community that results from stores closing.
- Efficient: Though the application we used for this project, Hoverlay, was in its very initial design stages, the goal of our application would be for the store widgets, including the links attached to them, to load quickly and become visible in very accurate proximity to the store.
- Engaging: The main appeal for using this program will come through the stories revealed by the store’s links. The goal of the project is to give the user a unique perspective on convenience stores, as community hubs rather than just stores, and feel that the stories displayed by store owners and customers will be effective in doing so. The stories will focus on store involvement in the community.
- Error tolerant: With many different locations being tracked, including the user’s and store’s, the program could be prone to errors. However repositioning boxes so that they better represent the store’s location is not a difficult fix. Also as the application become more developed, more people will be able to use the app at once without the system overloading.
- Easy to learn: The program is very simple. Upon walking in front of a store, all the user has to do is open the app and look for the store’s Augmented Reality box, which includes a title and picture of the store. Once the user seeks the box, he or she can click on the box, where the user will be referred to various links pertaining to the store. After initial tinkering with the app, the user should have no issue figuring out usage. For more clarification, the user could also view our straightforward demo video.
- What unique affordances does AR offer to enhance the story?
One unique affordance our AR experience offers is the fact that a user can view the stories of many different convenience stores in a short period of time. This will allow our users to really get a sense of all the different convenience stores in their community and how much off an impact they have on their community and the consequences of shutting them down. Our AR experience also allows the user to experience the stories of convenience stores that no longer are running, which can help raise awareness of the gentrification, and the increasing rent that results.
- What aspect of the larger narrative is addressed by your AR experience?
The narratives of gentrification and the fact that convenience stores are being driven out is expressed through our AR experience because it shows not only convenience stores that are still functioning normally, but it also shows convenience stores that have been closed and are now replaced by more modern commercial businesses. Also, our AR experience allows users to really get an understanding of exactly how much of an impact these stores have on their respective communities. This way, the fact that these stores are closing down will have much more of an impact on the user than it otherwise could be.
- How do you reveal what is hidden?
Our AR experience shows users just how important convenience stores are to their respective communities. Most people would think of convenience stores just as a place where they can get a variety of items at a fair price, hence their name. However some people do not understand or really know about community stores’ underlying purpose as a community hub, and our project really brings that hidden purpose to the forefront. By showing users the community hubs that have been overlooked all this time, they will understand the importance they have on their culture and just how impactful it is for the community when they are shut down.
Convenience stores serve as community hubs where people feel like they can get to know their neighbors, and not just buy a few basic items. These stores are being driven out by high rents and gentrification, which is hurting the general population in the long run. AR can be used to raise awareness for this issue and to help people, specifically landlords, to visualize what is really going on and to highlight the decreasing population of convenience stores in Toronto. If this product were to be further developed and refined, it could make a large impact on the livelihood of these small businesses and be the change that Toronto needs.
Project created by Chase Broder, Chase Herman, Ricky Coehlo, Alex Morgan