Belknap Hill Trading Post is a retro brand thought up right here in Grand Rapids, and the name is based on an actual area of the city … although I think it’s Belknap ‘Lookout’, but I’m not actually sure. It makes sense too, considering it’s a pretty old area of town and the entire brand is based on the vintage look.
This project was actually a very fun one for me. I mean, the whole thing is pretty much based on games and simplicity, and even gets involved in hockey! Granted it could be complicated and still about hockey and I’d probably still like it a ton.
We actually had to start out the project with a “coming soon” landing page, because Belknap Hill was to be debuted at the 2014 ArtPrize before the website was going to be ready to launch. The only thing required of this was to have a place for users to sign up to be notified when the site was up and ready.
I really wanted the site to reflect the textures of the unfinished wood and burlap packaging that most of the products have — and thankfully the creative powers that be were on board as well — so we went the route of hand drawn illustration over photographs. So glad we did too, because they really ended up looking great. In-house designer Bob Wismer hand drew the illustration for the temporary page, while Jim Connelly did all of the product drawings.
Constructing a Website
Once the brand was locked in place, I started drawing up a site that would reflect the textures and crafty feel. There was a lot of back-and-forth of how to accomplish this, but after a lot of meetings it was finally established.
However, due to time constraints of other project deadlines (I believe Dimensions was next on the docket), the site was passed to an outside agency to build the front-end. I generally am not a fan of this, since the concept is not always carried out the way it was intended. But, can’t build them all, I suppose.
There are currently 3 different vendors for most of the stuff listed on the site, and almost all of it is sold exclusively online. And GR based. And American made.