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ACS 2005 8th Place: Harold Jaffe Jewelers

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Harold Jaffe Jewelers, Toledo, OH

OWNERS: Jeff and Ivan Jaffe; ADDRESS: 4211 Talmadge Rd., Toledo, OH, 43623; PHONE: (419) 472-4480; URL: haroldjaffe.com; YEAR FOUNDED: 1946; 2004 REVENUES: Over $5 million; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: June 2004; LOCATION TYPE: Free-standing across from a major mall; ARCHITECT/DESIGN FIRM: Laurie Jaffe, The Collaborative, Artco group; TOTAL STORE AREA: 12,600 sq ft; SALES STORE AREA: 5000 sq ft; TARGET CUSTOMER: upscale 24-80; SHOWCASES: Cherry-colored and lined with “Jaffe gray flannel” and “Jaffe Beige” props.; EMPLOYEES: 20; FLOOR: Brown and gray; WALLS: “Jaffe Beige”; LAST REMODELING: Fall 2003; ADVERTISING SLOGAN: “One of a kind … Harold Jaffe Jewelers”; CEILINGS: White with 240 flush- mounted lights; PRIMARY COLORS: “Jaffe Beige,” brown, gray, and white Coolest store feature: The store’s fun-filled playroom keeps kids protected — and parents undistracted. “More often than not,” says Jaffe, “the children will say, ‘When can we come back?’”; SHOWCASES: 72 (230 linear feet); FAVORITE CUSTOMER STORY: The store changed the format and wording of its usual TV commercial so one of their customers could propose on air to his fiancée. Says Jeff Jaffe: “He was sort of in a competition with his family to do an amazing proposal and we were able to help him fulfill that.”; LAND COST: $850,000; INTERIOR BUILD-OUT COST: $1,900,000; DESIGN/ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS COST: $100,000; CURRENT ESTIMATED PROPERTY VALUE: $3,200,000


HOW DO YOU TAKE a classic, institutional look and warm it up to create a comfortable place to try on and buy sparkling jewelry — and sip hot coffee at the same time? That was the challenge for Harold Jaffe Jewelers, a nearly 60-year-old family-owned retailer in Toledo, OH, currently owned by founder Harold Jaffeʼs two sons, Jeff and Ivan. After 20 years in a smaller free-standing building, the store re-opened in a much larger, 12,600 square-foot space around the corner and across the street from a popular mall about to expand. But the non-descript building, as lacking in personality as your local bank, needed a serious pick-me-up. The payoff was a bold but welcoming interior and an elegant exterior that now communicates a snazzy style with a come-on-in sensibility.

“The whole package is very cool — we were able to make the store something very special,” says Jeff Jaffe. “The space doesnʼt come across as cold and stuffy, and weʼre proud to say our staff is anything but that as well. Itʼs a very fun kind of place to be.”

The reinvention was no easy task, but Harold Jaffe Jewelers has always been committed to combining the old and the new. “Thatʼs one of the things we talk about all the time,” says Jaffe. “As much as weʼre one of the older guys in town, we want to be the new kid on the block too.”

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Jeffʼs wife, Laurie, was entrusted with the task of taking the latest location to the next level. She had already worked for the store for a number of years and was also a trained interior designer, so she combined her skills to bring the storeʼs vision to life. “Itʼs intimidating enough to be walking in the door looking at something you donʼt have a clue about, so the goal was to make it really inviting,” Jaffe explains.

An antique 19th-century bronze door and frame is the dramatic focal point of the space, through which customers walk into a granite foyer. A beautiful collection of sophisticated artwork is displayed on the walls, including specially commissioned pieces designed by local artists — reflecting the Jaffesʼ commitment to the arts community in Toledo. Photos of happy couples are another key decoration, as are Jaffe family photos. Curved glass showcases enhance the high-quality jewelry that the retailer is known for, and the cherry wood finish on the cases, chocolate and gray-colored carpet and a combination of light fixtures create a perfect vibe for meandering around the store.

But Harold Jaffe Jewelers takes creature comforts to a whole new level for its browsing public — a sitting area with a fireplace was considered a must-have, as well as a flat-screen TV airing the storeʼs award-winning commercials. This hospitality area also offers gourmet coffees and the storeʼs own brand of bottled cold water. “We want to make people feel at home, and not make them feel like someone is just going to swoop down on them,” says Jaffe. “So we wanted to make it okay for clients to just come in and relax.” The concept of turnover, which works well in a restaurant, is not as helpful in a business like jewelry retailing, he insists. “The more people are allowed to hang around, the more likely they are to come back, and the more apt they are to tell their friends that the experience was good for them.”

A playroom helps establish the “hangout” feeling, and had been a dream of Jaffeʼs for years. “It was one of the first things we put on our list of wants in the new store,” he says. The Cartoon Channel runs continuously, and video games are available for joystick-jolly kids. “Itʼs been very cool — many customers are pleasantly surprised at the fact they can shop without interruption,” says Jaffe.

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The storeʼs laboratory is set up so customers can watch the master craftspeople at work on the bench, with a countertop nearby to nurse a cup of coffee while they wait. Says Jaffe: “We like people to know we do all our work on the premises.”

All of these details are important in order to create the “Jaffe Touch” — and one member of the Jaffe family is almost always on site to make sure that prospective clients are happy and taken care of. The bottom line, says Jaffe, is that itʼs about the relationship with the customer — not about the merchandise. “Once you have the personal connection, then you can find a piece that will work,” he says. And hey, when you serve coffee as good as the Starbucks two doors down, whatʼs not to love?

 

JUDGES’ COMMENTS

  • The beauty of this free-standing, independent retailer is that the exterior facade successfully represents a distinct attitude, price perception, value and target market by combining architecture, location and signing.
  • The interior store is contemporary and well designed, combining natural woods, textures, curved cases and warm tones. The strength of the store’s brand is portrayed in a pleasing, comfortable venue that appears to have everything going for it.— Pam Levine , Levine Design Group
  • Nice store. The use of wood and trim gives it a very appealing atmosphere. I like the plasma TVs. The curved showcases visible upon entering the store give a great first impression.— Richard Swetz , IJO
  • The interior of this store is phenomenal. Beautiful, it flows well and feels comfortable. I like the lighting. It’s there, there’s plenty, but it’s recessed, not a focal point. The layout is very cool. I think it’s great to have the windows at the repair area. Customers like to watch the tradesmen and women at work. The outside of the store needs to be warmed up. It looks cold, hard, not inviting.— Ron Wattsson , ‘Cool Store’ Winner 2004
  • Too simplistic; lacking great sight and visual lines of excitement … it needs a more detailed lighting package. The cases look nice but it fails after that. Confused design … obviously, not one of my favorites.— Greg Gorman , GMG design
  • The colors and materials used in this store combined with the custom artwork make it a highly attractive destination. I like the cherry wood mixed with gray and beige. It’s a comfortable yet elegant mix. The curves in the case-line create a good energy flow around the store. The brushed metal accents on the legs of the cases feel boxy yet appropriate with the architecture. I especially like the metal/wood combination. I wish more stores paid as much attention to creating a children’s’ play space. This one is well-done and, obviously, successful. The front door of this store is great as is the store “tour” in their web site — both very cool elements. The only element I don’t love is the use of videos on the walls. Videos have their place but in most cases they distract from the merchandise and, unfortunately, rarely work all the time.— Linda Cahan , Cahan & Company

 

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