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America's Coolest Stores

ACS 2006: Judges and Methodology




How We Picked The Winners

1 Out of nearly 100 “cool stores” originally entered, 25 were selected by Instore’s editors to present to our panel of 10 judges.

2 Judges were given links to websites created for each of the 25 finalist stores. After going through the websites, the  judges were asked to rate stores, on a scale of zero to 10 in four categories — exterior appearance, interior appearance, each store’s single coolest feature, and the coolness of the store’s story. Judges were instructed that a score of “0” would indicate an absolutely average store, while a score of “10” would indicate the “coolest store you’ve ever seen”. (While this instruction accounts for the somewhat lower scores in this year’s contest, Instore’s editors feel that this gives the country’s top jewelry retailers more to shoot for in future contests.)

3 Judges’ scores were calculated — with double value being given to the more important categories of exterior appearance and interior appearance, while single value was given to the less important (but still key) categories of “cool feature” and “cool story”. Final scores were based on a 100-point grading system.

4 After the top 10 stores were determined, judges were asked to revisit their websites to write comments.
Thanks to our terrific judges!

‘America’s Coolest’ Judges


Ruth Batson,
Executive Director/CEO, American Gem Society

An integral force in the AGS’ growth and development since joining the organization in 1993, Batson previously was responsible for the financing, design and construction of the society’s Robert M. Shipley complex. Batson currently serves on the board of directors of many jewelry industry organizations.

Gary and Kathy Bigham,
Owners, Bigham Jewelers

Owners of the winning store in Instore’s 2005 “America’s Coolest Store” contest, the Naples, FL-based Bighams have more than three decades of jewelry-retailing experience between them.

Bruce Brigham,
Founder, Retail Clarity Consulting


Designing stores and restaurants for over 20 years, Brigham’s resume includes more than 400 projects — and awards from the American Society of Interior Designers, Chain Store Age, as well as the National Association of Store Fixture Manufacturers. Brigham  is a frequent speaker at events on interior-design issues and trends

Ellen Fruchtman,
Founder/President, Fruchtman Marketing

After getting her start in television production, Fruchtman eventually formed her own marketing firm — which has provided advertising, public-relations and branding strategies to prestigious clients in Ohio and throughout America.

Les Hiscoe, VP,
Retail, Shawmut Design and Construction


With years of experience building luxury and specialty retail stores, Hiscoe’s clients include Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry, Apple Computer, De Beers, Tiffany & Co., Graff Diamonds, and Crump & Low.

Kate Peterson,
President/CEO, Performance Concepts

Backed by over 20 years of behind-the-counter experience, Peterson develops, directs and delivers training programs for the retail jewelry industry — with a client list including J.B. Robinson, Kay Jewelers, and Littman/Barclay Jewelers.

Rick Segel,
Founder, Rick Segel & Associates, LLC

A street-smart, down-to-earth business author and speaker, Segel has wowed over 1,700 audiences on three continents and 47 states. He is the author of the best-selling Retail Business Kit for Dummies and Laugh & Get Rich.

Terry Sisco,
President, ExSellerate

With his sales development group, ExSellerate, Sisco has designed programs for clients such as Platinum Guild International, Kwiat, JMC Diamonds, Maurice Lacroix Swiss Watches as well as C.D. Peacock.

Celeste Sotola,
Multimedia Fine Artist/Interior Designer

A self-proclaimed “provocateur of the imagination”, Sotola has brought her highly original designs to jewelry stores like Eve J. Alfillé’s Gallery & Studio, a seventh-place winner in Instore’s 2005 “America’s Coolest Store” contest.

Lori Wegman,
President, Wegman Design Group, Inc.

Wegman’s Naples, FL-based design group creates custom projects for retail, restaurant, corporate and hospitality clients — including Nickelodeon, Lens Crafters, MTV and last year’s “America’s Coolest Store”, Bigham Jewelers.

This story is from the August 2006 edition of INSTORE



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