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ACS 2005 7th Place: Murphy Jewelers

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Hyde Murphy Jewelers, Hamburg, PA

OWNERS: Patrick Murphy; ADDRESS: 16 Jetson Drive, Hamburg, PA; PHONE: (610) 562-2528; FAX: (610) 562-2528; URL: murphyjewelers.com;YEAR FOUNDED: 1913; 2004 REVENUES: $1.4 million (4th quarter only); OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: October 2004; LOCATION TYPE: Destination store; ARCHITECT/DESIGN FIRM: L & K Construction; GRID/3 International for lighting; Anne Murray, interior colors; TOTAL STORE AREA: 6,700 sq. ft; SALES STORE AREA: 4,900 sq. ft; TARGET CUSTOMER: “Everyone”; SHOWCASES: 100 (300 linear feet plus wall cases); EMPLOYEES: 22; FLOOR: Carpet by Shaw Industries, Ltd.; WALLS: Drywall with one floor-to-ceiling stone wall; LAST REMODELING: Fall 2003; ADVERTISING SLOGAN: “Creating memories to last a lifetime”; CEILINGS: Drywall; SHOWCASES: Natural Pennsylvania Heart cherry wood, with suede sage green material for floorboards; wall cases are also cherry wood with granite tops Primary colors: Sage green and cream; FAVORITE CUSTOMER STORY: A favorite customer from Denver who moved to Phoenix, temporarily leaving the girl of his dreams. Thrilled to find the Phoenix store, he commissioned a ring in secret, and avoided the Colorado store when he was with her. Because of this, she thought the engagement wasn’t going to happen. Of course, he knocked her off her feet when he produced a sparkling Hyde Park ring.; LAND COST: $450,000; BUILDING COST: $1.4 million; INTERIOR BUILD-OUT COST: $1 million; DESIGN/ ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS COST: Unspecified; CURRENT ESTIMATED PROPERTY VALUE: $600,000


CLUTCHING A FISTFUL OF moldy old bills, a shabbily-dressed, middle-aged man recently walked into Murphy Jewelers. He was looking for a gift for his wife for their 25th anniversary. As he was being helped, the story came out that when he had first married, he hadnʼt been able to afford a diamond engagement ring. And every paycheck since, heʼd stashed a few dollars away, until the day he entered Murphyʼs. He walked out with a three-stone anniversary ring. Thatʼs the kind of story Patrick Murphy loves. “Blue jeans or blue suit, theyʼre all my customers and I encourage my staff to listen to their stories. Make a believer of them, thatʼs our companyʼs goal. Convert them to Murphy Jewelers.”

So says Patrick Murphy, a man who values his community as much as, if not more than, his own store. He considers the new Murphy Jewelers to be his gift to Hamburg, PA. When he began the project, Murphy asked local builder/contractor L & K Construction to develop a space that inspired excitement without intimidating his customers. Again, mission accomplished. The stand-alone store has 18-foot ceilings, two waterfalls, and a 500-pound, six-and-a-half foot natural amethyst rock. As Murphy says, “I consider the store to be my Cadillac. And L & K Construction thinks of it as their Rolex. Best of all, weʼre still friends.”

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And speaking of Rolex, Murphy credits the company with setting his project in motion. He was becoming burned out, but when the luxurious watch franchise awarded Murphy Jewelers an account, it energized him. “In this industry, I truly believe that you are known by the company you keep,” says Murphy. “Being an official Rolex jeweler allowed us to position our store as a top retailer, bringing new excitement and enthusiasm into our retailing.”
With his new store being located next to the popular big-box sporting goods store, Cabelaʼs, Murphy knew that he had to construct a landmark store of his own or be overshadowed. And the new Murphy Jewelers concedes to its neighbor.

The brick structure takes advantage of the landʼs natural beauty with its 30-foot glass entrance and an atrium running along the length of the store. Surrounded by mountains and trees in the back and brightened by the natural light of the atrium, Murphy Jewelers is a wow. The 18-foot waterfall in the tiled foyer, which runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has even caused some customers to gasp aloud. Another impressive piece of nature is the huge natural amethyst rock Murphy bought from Arizona and installed in his store. Customers love it. On the night of his grand opening, he even had spotlights –– Hollywood-style.

But despite his storeʼs many impressive features, Murphy wanted to ensure customers werenʼt overwhelmed. He consulted his cousin, interior designer Anne Murphy, who suggested he use a muted sage green and cream color scheme throughout to provide a sense of calm. Another cousin, who worked at Shaw Carpet Industries, suggested a rich green carpet, for a more residential feeling to the space. Nearly 100 showcases, built in cherry hardwood by his jogging partner, Steve Buzalko, add to the homey feeling. Forming islands of merchandise, the curved and squared glass hand-carved wood cases are more like fine residential furniture than jewelry showcases. To light his space, he hired GRID/3 Internationalʼs Ruth Mellergaard, who recommended plenty of ambient light to supplement the natural light, plus lighting inside the showcases to ensure the merchandise sparkled.

“I donʼt take anything for granted and I didnʼt go into this blindfolded, throwing a dart at a dart board. Itʼs my heart and soul and it involved a lot of research and thought.” Murphyʼs philosophy is that youʼve always got to do one thing better today than you did yesterday. The result of that philosophy? “This store,” says Murphy.

One other favorite aspect of the store for Murphy is his office, a 1,800 square-foot area which looks down onto the sales floor. Murphyʼs “eyrie”, or lookout point, has two-way security glass that allows him to watch the sales floor without customers seeing him. It also serves as a place to serve special customers making big purchases. In the future, he also plans to use the space for training sessions.

Patrick Murphy has never lost his ability to dream, whether itʼs about his store of even his locally famous (or perhaps infamous) “Ugly Tie Contest”. For years, Murphy has been writing letters to sports and entertainment celebrities, such as Jay Leno, and asking them to send a photo and an ugly tie. Itʼs always a conversation starter. One memorable “ugly tie” catch: during the course of the O.J. Simpson trial, Robert Shapiro, Simpsonʼs lead attorney, sent in a tie autographed “Justice for all.”

Now those dreams have come true, with the business heʼs always wanted … and one of Americaʼs coolest stores.

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JUDGES’ COMMENTS

  • The mix of natural elements in this store gives it a warm, interesting and inviting feeling. The investment in extra lighting allows them to have darker wall colors without losing the light, bright feel. I am very drawn to the stone fireplace combined with the wood and dark walls. This store design, while not “out there”, is very cool thanks to the choice of colors and materials.
  • Their use of natural materials is excellent feng shui because people react in a more positive manner to things from the earth rather than from a factory. Lowering the light tracks along with the darker walls cuts down on the feeling of a high ceiling. The case-line seems to work well with curved sections to keep it from being too straight and sharp.— Linda Cahan , Cahan & Company
  • The high ceilings and enormous glass facade portray grandeur while the interior seems inviting, down-to-earth and relaxed. This is why Murphy’s deserves its “cool store” status; having achieved a challenging and successful balance between two opposing elements.
  • Warm natural-earth color tones seem to be selected with a keen understanding and eye towards the local traffic and customer base. Although possibly due to the wide-angle photograph, the space seems too vast and open, like a sports field. One wonders how the customer is encouraged to navigate such a big store.
  • Developing less generic, more customized display elements and a cohesive merchandising strategy for in-case presentations would greatly enhance this overall environment. This would serve to create more intimacy between the customer and the merchandise. There is a disconnect or missed opportunity between the flow of the store and the lack of attention to detail once inside the showcase; regarding color, texture and merchandising presentation. This is not uncommon with independent retailers.— Pam Levine , Levine Design group
  • The outside tells it all … warm, friendly and inviting. The fireplace is a nice touch. And in colder weather, a really nice touch. The huge inside still gives a warm feeling. I love the use of natural light. The store is not intimidating and gives off a natural feeling of suburbia. Well done.— Richard Swetz , IJO
  • Very cool design on the outside. The entrance is dramatic yet inviting. The waterfalls are impressive and the fireplace is a nice “homey” touch. The showcases are very nice and the rounded glass is creative and different. I liked that the backs of the cases were wood, it creates a nice look. I would change the color of the walls to something warmer. The green just doesn’t seem to fit and the drop-down halogens are just too “techie”. They are in direct contrast to the rich warm showcases.— Ron Wattsson ,‘Cool Store’ Winner 2004
  • This was not one of my best choices. While the space has size and height, it lacks detail, architectural interest, and warmth. The design styles do not complement each other and appear fragmented at best. The lighting is extremely poorly handled and cheapens the environment. Yes, the fireplace is a striking feature, but it doesn’t complement and coordinate with the other factors involved and simply stands alone.— Greg Gorman ,GMG Design
  • Uncool: The cavernous lodge-like setting makes it distinct but not cool. The size of the structure forced them into this crazy lighting situation that does not look well thought out. The Werther’s Original fireplace seems just a bit out of place (for a jewelry store, not a lodge). Lastly, the store has much too much dead space, the big-box look without the big-box stuff.— Joe Romano ,Scull & Company

 

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