Innovative approaches to main counters create a lasting first impression. GOT A LACKLUSTER main counter? Then do what one Idaho jeweler did and just add water ? 1,200 gallons to be exact ? and scores of glorious tropical fish. Or let your imagination take flight with some huge kites, hanging above from the ceiling. Of course, center islands are about more than just aesthetics; they also need to be functional, with built-in workplaces and storage areas. Conduits and connections to the latest technology are paramount. And lest one forget, there must be a place for everything and everyone. 




LEE READ 
MERIDIAN, ID

Larry Read, president and CEO of Lee Read, is perhaps the only jeweler in the United States who gives away live coral with each jewelry purchase. In the center island of his 10,000-square-foot store is a 1,200-gallon aquarium. The salt-water tank, which is 12 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet tall, is home to 150 varieties of coral and 60 species of fish. Even with such a massive fish tank, there is plenty of room for jewelry and work places for the staff. But Read concedes that about one in 20 people who walk through the door come in just to see the fish. In the Idaho town of 500,000, Read's serves as the local aquarium attraction. ?We've had over 2,500 kids tour the store to see the aquarium,? he boasts.  




BIGHAM JEWELERS 
NAPLES, FL

When you have 28,000 square feet to play with, you can decorate on a truly grand scale. Kathy and Gary Bigham are proud of their huge rotunda that can be seen by passing motorists. As customers enter the store, directly underneath the rotunda is the store's center island, which is made up of a continuous circle of display cases to ?maintain an uninterrupted traffic flow,? Kathy says. Over the circle of displays is a dome that measures 36 feet across. Inside it are earth tones that are complemented by wood panels placed in the ceiling, which ?is typical for a Florida home to add warmth,? Kathy says. Behind thick, textured glass panels is a work area for sales associates.  




REIS-NICHOLS 
INDIANAPOLIS, IN

BJ Nichols earns his store a few more linear feet with a display column that is the central feature of his store's main counter. The column is the first thing customers see as they enter, so the display is changed every month or so. Changes to the display can be seasonal (pictured here on Valentine's Day). On a more practical level the column case is used to highlight new jewelry and functions as promotional space for the store's annual inventory clearance.  





ROBBINS DIAMONDS 
ALLENTOWN, PA

It's hard for Jerry Robbins, president and CEO of Robbins Diamonds, to tiptoe through his tulips, as they're suspended from his ceiling. Kite shapes, like the kite facets on a gemstone, and tulip-leaf shapes fashioned from a lightweight nylon material are suspended throughout the store to help accentuate the lighting that frames each display case. Each display-case island has two podiums that double as workstations and are equipped with electrical, phone, LAN and Internet connections plus storage spaces.  





KING JEWELERS 
AVENTURA, FL

When King Jewelers recently expanded from 4,000 to 8,000 square feet, the store's center island took center stage. The large island is actually two smaller main counters divided by a small walk-through. But the two counters are unified by a large recessed ceiling feature that runs lengthwise in the store. On both ends of the main counter are two of four large Italian chandeliers that help fill up the tall ceilings. The cases have loads of small storage drawers as well as discreet but functional workstations.  




GOODMAN & SONS JEWELERS 
HAMPTON, VA

Main counters or center islands are the altars of a retail store. But not many main counters have a reverent, Sistine Chapel-like 24-foot high domed ceiling above them. The massive dome inside Goodman & Sons Jewelers is an oval shape that measures 35 feet long and 50 feet wide, covering the front entrance, the main display and the adjoining giftware area. The huge light fixture ties in with the main display areas with matching pendant drop lights.