Go to any business school and they will drum into you the importance of treating memory and intuition with suspicion. If it’s a decision that’s important, recurring and amenable to improvement, you should invest in gathering data, doing analysis, and examining “failure factors,” or so goes the orthodoxy (and the jargon).
Now suppose the issue at stake was, What’s the coolest state in America for jewelry retail, based on the one with the most appearances on INSTORE’s America’s Coolest Store honor list dating back to 2008 (when we introduced the Small Cool, Big Cool format)?
As someone who has written some of the store profiles and edited many of the pages, I think I could be trusted to deliver a pretty reliable answer to such a line of inquisition. My response, stated with the conviction of an inside expert: somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, probably Oregon. But what about Florida, California and New York, you say. Yes, time and time again we hear from small stores in country towns that the highest compliment they have received is, “Wow, this is the kind of store I’d expect to find in Manhattan.”
Yet, I can confidently declare we’ve never had a Cool Store winner from Manhattan, and only a smattering from New York state ...
So, in the wake of our latest competition, which featured a very strong showing from Washington (Green Lake Jewelry Works), no less, where is it, the coolest state in the land for jewelry retail?
This is discouraging, from a human fallibility point of view ... but the numbers don’t lie: It’s New York, with 13 placings including one first place finish (London Jewelers in 2009). Then come Texas and Illinois followed by yet more big states: California, Florida, Minnesota and North Carolina, which had seven stores each. Mid-table were Washington State at four and Oregon at three.
OK, so maybe it’s true: We do tend to give too much weighting to recent events. But the good thing about looking at the Coolest Store winners list over the last few years is their geographic diversity. A huge chunk of the country has been represented, from the places you’d expect – Orange County, CA, and Palm Beach, FL – to the ones you may not: Boise, ID; Tulsa, OK; and Florence, AL.
But then again, a statement like that probably just reflects more faulty preconceptions on my part.
So, if you own a store, go ahead and enter the contest next year, especially if you’re from a state (or province, for our Canadian cousins) that’s never won — you’ll be doing your part of the country/continent proud.
Here is that list of Cool Store winning states, dating back to 2008.
- 13 from NY
- 9 from TX
- 8 from IL
- 7 from FL
- 7 from CA
- 7 from MN
- 7 from NC
- 6 from LA
- 4 from AZ
- 4 from MI
- 4 from VT
- 4 from WA
- 3 from OR
- 3 from Washington, DC
- 2 from IN
- 2 from MT
- 2 from NV
- 2 from OK
- 2 from PA
- 1 from AL
- 1 from AR
- 1 from CT
- 1 from IA
- 1 from ID
- 1 from GA
- 1 from HI
- 1 from MO
- 1 from MD
- 1 from UT
- 1 from VA
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