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Commentary: The Business

Terry Chandler: A Gold Mine of Information




America’s Coolest Stores share a recipe for success: one part dream, one part commitment and one part the deep sense of community they share.

 [dropcap cap=S]oon after The instore Show in Chicago, my wife and I were finally able to take a long overdue honeymoon trip and vacation to Paris. One of my favorite Parisian pastimes is wandering the narrow streets of “The City of Lights” studying the tiny retail shops and marveling at the ability of these independent merchants to transform their minimal retail spaces (400 to 500 square feet) into inviting, energetic and effective selling environments. So intense! So artful! Above all, so able to encourage this shopper to part with his euros![/dropcap]

On one such excursion, my mind wandered back to the interviews my colleagues Kate Peterson, David Peters, Brad Huisken and I conducted with past America’s Coolest Stores winners during The instore Show.

Those hours at the show spent listening to those cool jewelry-store owners relate the dreams, passions and frustrations which led them to retail jewelry success — and eventually to Coolest Store status — were some of the most enlightening and educational moments of my 30-year career in our industry.

Yes, the Coolest Stores winners spoke of bricks and mortar, personnel, merchandise and marketing — all valuable and informative, of course.

However, the underlying theme that eventually surfaced in all the Coolest Stores interviews was, starkly and simply, a sense of passion for their business, a devotion to their dream and a consuming commitment to quality, expressed — in every instance — by a total immersion first in the business itself, and second in the community in which they did business.


To the person, the America’s Coolest Stores winners invested their all in making their stores exactly what they had dreamed, and then, once that was achieved, they turned their energies tenfold into the communities they served.

In the pages of this issue of instore, the reader will find vast resources from this year’s America’s Coolest Stores winners relating to every aspect of the retail jewelry business. Don’t miss a word. What follows is a gold mine of good and valuable information.

I particularly challenge you, however, to look intently for and absorb the passion of these Coolest Stores owners and to discover their recipe for success: one part dream, one part commitment, one part the deep sense of community they share.

Together, all these things created their Coolest Store status! It is the same from the tiny shop in Paris to the independent jeweler in America … and the whole world over, I’m convinced. Congratulations to all of the 2009 America’s Coolest Stores. Vive les Coolest Stores!




Terry Chandler is president and CEO of the Diamond Council of America and has spent 21 years working in jewelry retail. He was a judge in the 2008 America’s Coolest Stores contest. E-mail him at [email protected]



Celebrate Your Retirement with Wilkerson

For nearly three decades, Suzanne and Tom Arnold ran a successful business at Facets Fine Jewelry in Arlington, Va. But the time came when the Arnolds wanted to do some of the things you put off while you’ve got a business to run. “We decided it was time to retire,” says Suzanne, who claims the couple knew how to open a store, how to run a store but “didn’t know how to close a store.” So, they hired Wilkerson to do it for them. When she called, Suzanne says Wilkerson offered every option for the sale she could have hoped for. Better still, “the sale exceeded our financial goals like crazy,” she says. And customers came, not only to take advantage of the going-out-of-business buys and mark-downs, but to wish a bon voyage to the beloved proprietors of a neighborhood institution. “People were celebrating our retirement, and that was so special,” says says.

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