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America's Coolest Stores

ACS 2005: The Judges



The Judges

Linda Cahan Principal, Cahan & Company Retail Visual Design

Linda Cahan has been in visual merchandising, store design and display since 1971. Her experience includes visual merchandising for traditional department stores, specialty stores of all sizes and types, and large corporations. Cahan consults on store renovation, design and visual programs. Her 11- year study of feng shui also has a strong influence on her consultations and store designs. Cahan regularly uses feng shui concepts in her work to assure prosperity and longevity to the client and store. She has written custom visual standards manuals for many companies including Saks Fifth Avenue, Lancôme Cosmetics, American Express, Singer, United Rentals and two retail companies in South America. Linda is a columnist for Gifts and Dec magazine as well as writing for many other trade publications. She authored the textbook A Practical Guide to Visual Merchandising, published by Prentice Hall in 1984, and taught at Parsons School of Design in NYC for 12 years.

Gregory M. Gorman Principal, Creative Services, GMG Design

Greg Gorman is a designer with over two decades of store design and visual merchandising experience.  His company, GMG DESIGN, Inc., a retail and commercial design firm, was founded in 1992. The areas of focus are broad, including branding, architecture, interior design, visual merchandising, fixture development, trade show booths, vendor shops, kiosks, graphics, signage programs, lighting design and marketing. In addition he has been a guest speaker and retail store consultant for specialty stores, food courts, malls and department stores throughout the world. Gorman is author of the Visual Merchandising & Store Design Workbook, writes regularly for trade magazines, and has been an educator at a local college in Saint Louis.


Pam Levine Principal, Levine Design Group

Pam Levine is the principal of Levine Design Group, a visual merchandising and design firm that creates innovative solutions to establish or revitalize a brand image for the luxury marketplace. Services include brand analysis and competitive research programs, logo design and application, interior design for retail environments, display design and signage systems, and stationery and collateral materials.



Joseph S. Romano President, Scull & Company


Joe Romano has 35 years of hands-on experience in the retail jewelry business in addition to a highly specialized management consulting practice, Scull & Company. The company’s primary focus is  the “consistent application of excellent marketing, human resource development, inventory control, finance and the creation of a physical environment that will continue the perpetuation of happy customers”. Romano purchased Scull & Company in 1988 and has built the company into an business serving retailers and manufacturers worldwide. His specialties include strategic planning, business succession, business evaluation and mediation. He has consulted with over 800 companies worldwide. In addition, he writes a weekly “Note from Scull”, lectures at trade shows and has been published in many trade journals.

Richard Swetz Chairman, IJO

Richard Swetz is the chairman of IJO, after taking over the helm from IJO founder Bill Roberts in February of 1998. He had been an active retail member of the organization since 1985, and after achieving his goal of selling his stores and retiring at age 59, he decided to take a leading position in the organization he feels was responsible for his success. Today, he oversees various levels of IJO’s operations including the group’s “On the Road” program, which provides on-site in-store evaluations for IJO members; IJO’s “Business College”, and other useful member programs.



Ron Wattsson Owner, Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers

Ron Wattsson will be celebrating his 20th year in business this September. A self-taught bench jeweler, Ron developed and refined “Michigan Gold”, a unique line of jewelry produced exclusively from material mined locally. He was commissioned by the state of Michigan to produce the Sesquicentennial Coin. In 2004, his store, Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers in Marquette, MI, was named “America’s Coolest Store” by Instore. Wattsson & Wattsson is famous for its replica of an old-fashioned gold mine museum, which includes meteorites, rare minerals, fossils, and even an authentic nest of dinosaur eggs. Says the owner of the most notable feature of his extremely cool store: “Why a museum? Jewelry isn’t 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.”

This story is from the August 2005 edition of INSTORE

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Wilkerson Testimonials

Downsizing? Wilkerson Is Here to Help

Orin Mazzoni, Jr., the owner of Orin Jewelers in Garden City and Northville, Michigan, decided it was time to downsize. With two locations and an eye on the future, Mazzoni asked Wilkerson to take the lead on closing the Garden City store. Mazzoni met Wilkerson’s Rick Hayes some years back, he says, and once he made up his mind to consolidate, he and Hayes “set up a timeline” for the sale. Despite the pandemic, Mazzoni says the everything went smoothly. “Many days, we had lines of people waiting to get in,” he says, adding that Wilkerson’s professionalism made it all worthwhile. “Whenever you do an event like this, you think, ‘I’ve been doing this my whole life. Do I really need to pay someone to do it for me?’ But then I realized, these guys are the pros and we need to move forward with them.”

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