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ACS 2004 1st Place: Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers

Mine, oh mine ... introducing ʻAmericaʼs Coolest Storeʼ.




Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers, Marquette, MI

OWNER: Ron Wattsson; ADDRESS: 118 West Washington Street Marquette, MI 49855; LOCATION TYPE: Downtown; PHONE: (906) 228-5775; FAX: (906) 228- 3675; OPENED: 1985; LAST MAJOR RENOVATION: 1989; EST. PROPERTY VALUE: $2 million; STORE AREA: 5,000 sq. ft; STAFF: 6; SALES IN 2003: $750,000

STORE OWNER RON WATTSSON often hears how cool his store is, but the praise of being hip doesnʼt come from overpaid creative types who wear black on black. In fact, more often than not, these rave reviews come from the mouths of third-graders.

Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelersʼ exterior is historic, but its status as this yearʼs “Americaʼs Coolest Store” is based more on the storeʼs prehistoric interior. With his store nestled in Marquette, MI, Wattsson is part retail jeweler, museum curator and prehistory educator. The storeʼs façade is quaint red brick, something one would find in most downtown historic areas. And, for the most part, Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelersʼ interior is a fairly straightforward jewelry store layout — well, with the exception of the rhinoceros head. But the real attraction, and the center of cool for Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers, is located towards the rear of the store. Thatʼs where customers can enter the storeʼs unique “Gold Mine”.


  • Ron Wattson: The store owner on his cool store: “I always wanted to take care of a diamond mine and when I was a kid I wanted a dinosaur, but I got an ancient bear instead. The Gold Mine got its start when we used to make jewelry from local gold — Michiganʼs Upper Peninsula is a mining area. The museum was an extension of the Michigan gold refining and production we used to do in the store. Why a museum? Jewelry isnʼt something people need, so our job [as jewelers] is to make it fun. Walt Disney was my mentor. Make it fun and they will come. The Gold Mine cost about $110,000 to make and, yes, it was worth it.”
  • GREG GORMAN: “This store is my favorite from all the entries. It truly offers the customer a retail experience far different than any competition. I love the way that this concept holds onto the vintage fact of how many years they have been in business with antique cases, tin ceiling and the chandeliers. But then turns into an educational museum supporting the business and getting all ages involved. The smaller gift shop area at the end in warm wood tones greatly complements the entire experience taking you through basically three different environments in one shopping visit. When retail attracts customers by the bus loads as a want-to, have-to-see destination, thatʼs a ten any day. This is retail at its best and is not predictable. A new surprise around every corner that makes the customer want to see it all, stay longer than usual in a store and impulsively sells products as nothing else as souvenirs.”
  • KAREN KARCH: “I like the uniqueness, but wonder if it is too gimmicky. Seems to be a place for children to play than a place for adults to buy — itʼs a mini-natural history museum.”
  • LINDA CAHAN: “Itʼs not too often that a jewelry store design is exciting or even really interesting beyond the jewelry. This store has recreated the jewelry store experience by making themselves an entertainment destination as well as an elegant jewelry store. The chandeliers and the ornate ceiling are great way to say ʻupscaleʼ along with the good wood case-line. While this is a destination store for the amazing mine museum, it definitely is a place to buy jewelry, not just sight-see. I respect and admire their commitment to their customers and community in the efforts they have made to make their store a truly unique shopping and learning experience.”
  • DEBORAH YONICK: “Very impressive, the exterior speaks of Old World charm in its architecture and history that was translated well in the interior through the antique showcases and furniture, chandeliers, even the great conversation piece — the rhino head mounted on the wall! The gold mine seems schmaltzy, but itʼs actually tastefully done and it appears to attract a lot of people — very clever!”
  • MARK & MONIKA CLODIUS: “Conceptually the coolest. Love the creativity and originality. For me a cool store is much more than interior design, but the coolness of reaching out to your customer base and community.



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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