Thursday, 31 January 2013 08:00

America's Coolest Stores: You Gotta Stand Out from the Crowd

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Remember: Cool = different.

"Our fancies are always tickled by the unexpected or serendipitous -- in-store photo booths, really unique ad campaigns, $200 interior build-outs (that look amazing) -- things that make a store stand out from all the others."


The staircase at R. Grey Gallery

One of my editors wrote that during an email conversation about the America's Coolest Stores contest. It got me thinking about the many conversations I've had with store owners about what exactly our judges are looking for.

Which in turn got me thinking about some of the standout features of our past winners. Here's a list of 5 Cool Things about some of the stores that won or placed in 2012:

  1. A novel aesthetic. Green Lake Jewelry Works' entire store is a good example: murals on the floor, a motorized bike rack on the ceiling for employees' rides, designers and goldsmiths working out in the open.
  2. One striking element. R. Grey Gallery's lit-from-within staircase beckons passersby to glance inside in the evenings, serving as an advertisement even when the store is closed.
  3. New twists on how to sell jewelry. Like the open ring displays at TWO by London -- customers can pick up and try on replications of rings for as long as they want without having to involve a sales associate.
  4. Consistently stepped-up customer service. Not to minimize them, but we've heard a lot of stories about driving through a blizzard to deliver a ring on time at this point. They're great, but what's really cool is when a store builds a better approach to service right into their system, every day. The Diamond Vault has a concierge, an employee with a GG degree who greets customers when they walk in, offers them a drink, and directs them to the right sales associate.
  5. Interesting event ideas. We love both slightly out-of-the ordinary in-store events and other marketing efforts that draw attention. The Mom's Night Out at Moondance Jewelry Gallery, which takes place right after the school year starts again, gives a target demographic the perfect excuse to celebrate.

Now, by no means were these the sole defining factors in these stores' success in the contest. Nor does this mean your store needs to have features like these to win -- indeed, by definition, we'd like to see something different. But these unusual and engaging ideas should give you an idea of what really turns our cranks.



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Last modified on Thursday, 31 January 2013 13:49
Josh Wimmer

Josh WImmer has been a contributor to INSTORE since 2006. He has coordinated the annual America's Coolest Stores contest for several years. The job mostly involves pestering jewelry store owners to start their contest entries, pestering jewelry store owners to finish their contest entries, and figuring out computer problems over the phone from hundreds of miles away.

 
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