In today's competitive retail environment, change is a good thing. And since highlighting current styles and new products is the name of the game, display changes become a necessity for retailers. But when modifications require electrical work, this task becomes more challenging, costly, and time consuming. The furniture business is a prime example.

When owners of the Benchmark Furniture store, Olathe, Kan., reached the final design phase for its 725,000-sq-ft campus, Jerry Davidow (partner in the family-owned store) knew he must find a way to change electrical displays more quickly and easily.

Davidow worked closely with the electrical contractor (SKC Electric, Inc.) and architect on the newest addition to the Benchmark campus: a 160,000-sq-ft Thomasville retail showroom. Their top considerations on this design/build product included how to integrate the open displays into the floor plan and the need for easy-to-change power configurations for lighting and computerized kiosks (where customers take purchase tags for scanning). Benchmark decided to try an entirely new concept for electrical power: track busway.

Davidow chose Starline Track Busway, a continuous conductor grid system you can install overhead similar to a track lighting system. However, unlike track lights, you use this busway for lighting and power drops with 60A to 225A capacity, 1ph and 3ph, 4-wire, 300V and 600V. You insert plug-in power drops into the busway and then rotate them to "lock" into place for power. You can quickly remove plug-in units, called starjacks, from the busway by rotating the starjack in the opposite direction—even while the busway is energized. At the Thomasville store, the new busway powers approximately 2500 track head lights, 12 freestanding kiosks, and hundreds of wall outlets.

In the past, Benchmark had to allow time for electricians to run new conduit and wire after business hours for new displays requiring electrical power changes. Previous power changes for displays also took significant time—sometimes two to three weeks. Since installing the new busway, Davidow anticipates display changes will take only one or two days, including changes to the electrical power drop locations. He expects this to save Benchmark between $7000 to $10,000 per store design change.

"Although the initial cost of busway appears to be slightly higher than conduit and wire, the savings are quickly realized the first changeover when we perform this work with our in-house maintenance staff," says Davidow. "Savings come from not needing labor, lifts, and wiring because we can do the changes ourselves at our convenience, without calling in an outside electrical contractor."