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ACS 2005 10th Place: Justice Jewelers

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Justice Jewelers, Springfield, MO

OWNERS: Woody Justice; ADDRESS: 3520 E. Battlefield, Springfield, MO 65809; PHONE: (888) 246-3049, (417) 881-0551; FAX: (417) 881-2063; URL: justicejewelers.com; YEAR FOUNDED: 1982; 2004 REVENUES: $10,000,000; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 1987; LOCATION TYPE: Ground floor of apartment building on a suburban downtown side street; ARCHITECT/DESIGN FIRM: Designer, Ron Harris and Architect, Richard Hardy, AIA Sales floor area: 5,000 sq.-ft; LAST REMODELING: 2004; TOTAL STORE AREA: 10,000 square feet; TARGET CUSTOMER: “Everyone”; SHOWCASES: 66 (320 linear feet); EMPLOYEES: 40; FLOOR: Original terrazzo combined with tomato-rust color carpeting, with a deep violet border; WALLS: Oak paneling in a honey gold color; LAST REMODELING: N/A (Built new 1996.); STORE TAGLINE: “I’m Woody Justice, and I want to be your jeweler”. Location type: Standalone superstore; CEILINGS: Domed sheet rock ceiling painted white; PRIMARY COLORS: Green, honey brown; SHOWCASES: Custom-made of the same rift sawn oak paneling as the walls; LAND COST: $800,000; BUILDING COST: N/A; SHOWCASES: Five inches deep, constructed of galvanized gutters fitted with piano hinges and plexiglass doors with silk tassels as pulls; COOLEST STORE FEATURE: drive up window in the repair shop Floor: Carpeting with shades of green; INTERIOR BUILD-OUT COST: 1,250,000; DESIGN/ ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS COST: $100,000; CURRENT ESTIMATED PROPERTY VALUE: $3,000,000


WHEN YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER is “everyone”, as owner Woody Justice says, a leading cool factor is a store created solely with the customer in mind, be it a bridal client who wants to buy in a private setting to a repair patron who takes advantage of the storeʼs drive-up window. It took Justice roughly 12 years to create his now nine year old, customer-driven stand-alone superstore. When he opened for business in 1982, his was a non-traditional store that offered appraisals and selling jewelry by appointment. In an area ripe for market domination by a more traditional jewelry store, Justice the store. “Years ago, the kids would pull the parents out of the store,” Justice says. opened exactly that in 1984.

Five years later, he began late- night radio campaigns to attract younger couples and his business expanded. The campaign worked so well Justice eventually decided to move in to a much larger store in a strip center across from the regional mall in 1990. When a successful ad campaign increased sales further, Justice needed to have enough space to handle the anticipated growth, which motivated the owner to build a 10,000 sq.-ft building six years later.

The store has a 5,000 sq.-ft. showroom and cases that offer an impressive 320 linear feet of display space. The store also has a large repair area where six goldsmiths and a watchmaker work.

For a Missouri-based jeweler, Justice seems to think in Texas terms. Everything he does is big — including the 3.2-acre plot of land his store stands upon. When he bought the land, people shook their heads, the same way they did when they first heard his unorthodox advertising slogan (“Iʼm Woody Justice, and I want to be your jeweler”). But, as usual, Justiceʼs instincts proved to be correct. “People didnʼt realize that Springfield is a regional trade center.” says Justice. “And that 50% of our business comes from customers who do not live in our county.”

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The enormous plot of land provided Justice with the opportunity to offer design features and convenience options at his store that his more space-challenged, urban rivals couldnʼt even dream of.

“Our bank-style drive-up window allows customers to drop off and pick up repairs without getting out of their cars,” says Justice. “Mothers with two kids in car seats with ice cream melting in the trunk really appreciate this fast service.”

Most jewelers see repairs as a way to generate additional sales with more face time in the store, but that rubs against the grain of Justiceʼs homespun approach. “My philosophy is that I would much rather make a customer than a sale.”

The larger store also allows Justice to better serve his target customers — who he boldly describes as “everybody”. He has the space to carry a wide range of inventory, covering many price points. The sheer vastness of his selection has helped Justice position his store in Springfield and neighboring markets as the areaʼs “one size fits all” jeweler.

“The coolest thing about our store is that on a busy day you can take a look around the showroom and see the high-roller and the blue-collar worker shopping at the same time. Both are made to feel comfortable in my store,” Justice says. “Last Christmas, a gentleman thanked me for having a store that made him feel comfortable and where he could find something that he could afford. Thatʼs cool!”

Another customer perk that Justiceʼs superstore offers is a large childrenʼs play area. With a mural of Mother Goose serving as the backdrop, the playroom gives kiddies the chance to watch Cartoon Network or play with an assortment of puzzles and toys. This makes it one of the more popular rooms in the store. “Years ago, the kids would pull the parents out of the store,” Justice says. “Now the parents pull the kids kicking and screaming out of the store.”

Another popular store feature made possible by Justiceʼs large property is the storeʼs picnic area — which features ample seating, a relaxed environment and, for bird lovers, two birdhouses specially built for purple martins (a large variety of swallow). “It really loosens up the environment outside and provides a nice area for people to sit and visit or take a break,” says Justice of one of his favorite features about his store.

While this is already an impressive roster of features, Justice isnʼt ready to stop adding to the services he offers. Justice recently added a jewelry salon where high-end designs from companies like David Yurman, John Hardy, and watches from Rolex can be viewed in a more exclusive, private setting — complete with its own minibar.

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But, despite the luxury perks, no one can accuse Justice of forgetting customers who buy at lower price points. His storeʼs target clientele is still “everybody” and Justice Jewelers continues to offer many economically priced categories like Black Hills gold and others. Says Justice: “We are part of a rural lifestyle and we are that way as well.”

At the center of that homespun image is Justice himself, whose voice has become something of an institution in this rural community. And when the owner of one of Americaʼs coolest stores tells radio listeners, “Iʼm Woody Justice … and I want to be your jeweler”, they listen. And the result is some big-city sales numbers for one of the countryʼs most charming rural jewelers — $10 million in 2004 alone.

 

JUDGES’ COMMENTS

  • One of my top picks. From the outside to the inside, this store gives off every attribute of a fine jewelry store.— Richard Swetz , IJO
  • The approach used with branding statements detracts from the overall design of the interior, which is clean and simple, but predictable.
  • Light woods are dated.— Greg Gorman , Gmg Design
  • The store was designed specifically to create the presence of a 900-pound gorilla. However, it was done so in a fashion that it would not present any level of resistance to any customer in the market. The structure and physical environment create a comfortable shopping experience for a customer purchasing a $50 Nomination bracelet or a $50,000 vivid yellow diamond.
  • The service drive-up window is a nice touch for mothers who do not have time to come into the store. Whenever a customer drops off a watch for a battery, they are given a pager and, when the watch is complete, the customer is paged. Clearly, Woody and his staff work very hard to meet the needs of all their customers.— Joe Romano , Scull & Company
  • The curves in the cases, on the floor, and in the pattern of lights on the ceiling give this store a very fluid and comfortable feel. I find the décor elements inside the front of the case-line very interesting. While having vendor logos over each wall area is very effective and good merchandising, it is reminiscent of department and appliance stores. Even so, Justice has done an excellent job of showing their range with this visual merchandising concept. My favorite parts of this store are the lights and the floor patterns.— Linda Cahan , Cahan & Company
  • This store is lovely, sleek, contemporary and inviting. I can understand why customers like it. It is open, clean, light and seems well organized. The glittering appearance of the cases works well with the soft patterns created on the ceiling by the lights. A very calming atmosphere where customers can focus on the jewelry without feeling crowded or rushed.
  • It appears to be a refreshing change from the dark traditional jewelry interiors often seen in Middle America. The owner’s background and well thought-out strategy are highly impressive and if the judging was about that alone, my rating would have been higher.— Pam Levine , Levine Design Group
  • Drive-up repair window? Pretty cool. The interior of the store is very attractive. The layout is easy and comfortable. The recessed lighting is cool in that it’s circular. I didn’t care for the promotional signage built into the wall. It drives the eye away from the showcases.— Ron Wattsson , ‘Cool Store’ Winner 2004

 

PHOTO GALLERY (3 IMAGES)

Paul Holewa is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Collected Concepts and has worked as a gem and jewelry industry journalist for nearly 15 years. He learned about the industry firsthand in Bangkok and Chantaburi, Thailand, global hubs for colored stones, diamond cutting, and jewelry production. For most of his years as a trade journalist, Paul specialized in writing small business management content for jewelry store owners. His specialty was developing print magazine news feature stories and online blog content to help retail jewelers manage their store more effectively and, sell more jewelry.

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