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ACS 2006: Tenth Place, Jewelry Design Center



Jewelry Design Center

Address: 821 N. Division St. Spokane, WA 99202
Owners: Doug and Brian Toone
Phone: (509) 487-5905
Year founded: 1979
Opened featured location: 2005
Architect /Design Firm: Bernardo Wills Architects, Baker Construction,
Total Store Area: 12,500 sq ft
Employees: 35
2005 Revenues: N/A
Land cost: $1.2 million
Building cost: $1.6 million
Interior build-out cost: (Included in building cost)
Design/architectural firms cost: $55,000
Current estimated property value: $4 million

5 Cool Things About The Jewelry Design Center


North by Northwest

Jewelry retailers often try to make their customers feel at ease, but few go to the lengths of the Jewelry Design Center in Spokane, WA, to accommodate local tastes. The “log cabin” store, which sits just back from the Spokane River, is a monument to Northwestern frontier spirit, featuring massive cedar support beams that seem to grow out of the floor, washroom basins carved from boulders and a 25-foot-tall fireplace made of river rock. “Imported marble and chandeliers are not us,” says Brian Toone, who owns the store along with his father, Doug.



Doing It Themselves

Not content to just visualize their dream store, Brian, Doug and other family members did much of the design work themselves and a substantial amount of the handiwork. “We figured, hey, we are in the design business. We know what looks good,” says Doug. In fact, the father-and-son team made so many changes to the original blueprint the architect barely recognized the store when he came to inspect the finished product. “Wow, this is not even the same building I designed,” he told the family.


Flip It On

Along the walls of the second-floor VIP showroom are 15 12-inch-square framed pictures. At the flick of a switch, the pictures disappear into the wall to reveal inset display cases. The cases were the brainchild of Doug’s son-in-law, Chad Bailey. “I believe we have the only showroom in the world (with these kind) of hidden showcases,” says Brian.



Work Show

The Jewelry Design Center’s 12 full-time goldsmiths and designers make it the largest design and manufacturing shop in the region. And they’re all on display for customers to watch from behind large glass panels as they carve wax moulds, do engravings, ring mountings, welding, laser and polishing work. Cameras set up by the work stations allow customers to watch the designers up close on TV monitors set in the wall above the glass panels.


Never Too Old

“We have a commercial where we say, ‘We’re not looking for a one-time customer. We want to be your jeweler for life,’ says Brian Toone, recounting and ad campaign that went a little awry. “An old lady called to complain about our ads and said she was offended and would not be coming in.” Puzzled, Toone asked why she had taken offense. “She replied: ‘I’m an old lady and I only have time to be a one-time customer and your ads say you don’t want them!’ We  hadn’t thought of that,” Toone admits. — Chris Burslem



Brian Toone, Co-Owner, Jewelry Design Center

1 What does your store say about you?

It shows on the outside how we always felt on the inside. It says we’re real guys, not stuffy. Honest and open with nothing to hide.

2 Ever worried about what upscale vendors or customers might think of a “frontier-style” jewelry store?

It’s actually opened doors to vendors. Any vendor who has stepped in the door has been in awe of what we’ve done. Before, in our old location we didn’t focus on brands. Our main business was the manufacturing. Since moving here, that’s changed. We’ve brought in Breitling, TAG Heuer, Hearts of Fire. Now we are having to be careful about what we bring in.

3 What effect has the store had on staff?

It’s fun to work in this environment. It’s much cooler to come to work. There are enough bathrooms, enough space for everyone.

4 Does the store’s unique design give staff something to break the ice with customers?

In the first months, we were so excited about the building we forgot to sell the jewelry. We had people coming in to celebrate an anniversary or buy an engagement ring and we were talking about the logs and this and that. I called a meeting and we decided we had to refocus on the jewelry. Now we try to let the store’s features make their own statement.

5 You and your father mortgaged your houses to finance the building. ever a time when you thought you’d made a mistake?

Not even for a second. We grew this business during the closing of a major employer in town, the stock-market plunge, 9/11, and the war. We did a lot of research, we had a lot of history, we knew where we were coming from, where we were going. We took a parking lot and turned it into a cool spot that people look for. It’s become a unique feature of Spokane. We got it absolutely right.


Three things you’ll hear said most frequently amongst employees at the JDC, according to Brian Toone:

1. “High five!” (Brian: “A must for a job well-done.”)
2. “Sales parade!” (After a good sales month, all 35 staff members join a conga line of rolling chairs and weave around the sales room, throwing confetti.)
3. “Would you like some fresh air?” (An invitation to customers making a big decision to step out onto the second-floor patio with its view of downtown Spokane.)


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This story is from the August 2006 edition of INSTORE



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