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America's Coolest Stores

ACS 2007: Judges and Methodology




[contentheading]How We Picked The Winners[/contentheading]

[dropcap cap=1.] Out of more than 100 cool stores entered, 25 finalists were selected by instore’s editors to present to our panel of 10 judges.[/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=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 three categories — exterior appearance, interior appearance and the “coolness” of the store’s story.[/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=3.] Judges’ scores were calculated — with equal weight given to exterior appearance, interior appearance, and the quality of the store’s “cool story” — its philosophies, features and services offered. Judges were instructed to base their scores on a store’s business philosophy, customer service and unique ideas as much as its physical appearance.[/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=4.] After the top 10 stores were determined, judges were asked to revisit the websites of each top finisher to write their final comments.[/dropcap]


Thanks to our terrific judges!

[componentheading]’America’s Coolest’ Judges[/componentheading]

[h4][b]Berj Alexanian, CFO, Alex Velvet Inc.[/b][/h4]

In 1986, Alexanian co-founded with his brother Krikor, Alex Velvet Inc., which specializes in the design and manufacture of fine jewelry display and decorations. As CFO, Alexanian is involved in finance, product purchasing and product development.


[h4][b]Shane Decker, President, Ex-Sell-Ence, Shane Decker Sales Academy[/b][/h4]

Decker has worked with more than 3,000 stores, teaching retailers the anatomy of a sale, how to handle objections, closing skills, the art of the turnover,  and more. He is also an Instore columnist on topics ranging from improving diamond sales to sales training.

[h4][b]Leatrice Eiseman, Founder, Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training[/b][/h4]

Eiseman is a color specialist whose expertise is recognized worldwide, especially as a consultant to Pantone, Inc. She has helped companies, from small one-person start-ups to large corporations make the best choice of color for product development, logos and identification, brand imaging, websites, packaging, point of purchase, interior/exterior design and other application. She is the author of six books on color.


[h4][b]Rhonda Faber Green, Founder, Rhonda Faber Green Designs[/b][/h4]

Faber Green combined her lifelong artistic talent with her jewelry knowledge in 2002 with the creation of her jewelry design firm. Her jewelry experience was gained over 10 years helping build one of the country’s largest privately owned jewelry stores. Prior to that, she worked for the merchandising department of Max Factor cosmetics.

[h4][b]Nick Failla, Founder, Premier Consulting Innovations[/b][/h4]

Failla’s consulting firm provides comprehensive sales development to the jewelry industry. He has gained an understanding of retail operations, store management, sales and marketing during his nearly 20 years in the jewelry industry. He served as director of sales for Downey Designs and held various positions for Sterling Inc.

[h4][b]Ruth Fell Failer, President, Tips of the Trade[/b][/h4]

Previously the co-owner and vice president of sales and marketing for precious metals refiner, David H. Fell & Company Inc., Failer launched Tips of the Trade, a trade-show consulting and solutions firm offering workshops and coaching in sales, booth etiquette, pre-show marketing and post-show follow-up.

[h4][b]Deborah E. Hecht, Hecht-Rhodes Inc.[/b][/h4]

Hecht is an independent wholesale jewelry representative serving 11 western states for the past 14 years. She is a graduate gemologist and owned three retail jewelry stores in Hawaii. Prior to that she was a recruiter for real estate executives. She lives in Las Vegas.

[h4][b]Larry Johnson, Sr. VP, Business Planning, Pacific Northern Inc.[/b][/h4]

Johnson is a recognized expert in the field of jewelry merchandising. His book, The Complete Guide To Effective Jewelry Display is considered by many to be the definitive reference source on the subject and is used by GIA as a textbook in its visual merchandising classes.

[h4][b]David Peters, Education Director, Jewelers of America[/b][/h4]

Peters works on the design and delivery of education and educational services to JA’s membership. He also develops methods of making educational resources more readily accessible to all retail jewelers. A graduate and certified gemologist, he spent 16 years working in retail. Prior to JA, he spent seven years as an instructor at the GIA.

[h4][b]Craig Underwood, President, Underwood’s Jewelers[/b][/h4]

The 2006 America’s Coolest Store winner, Underwood has been affiliated with the jewelry profession since 1975 and is the second generation of the 50-year-old Underwood firm. Underwood is active in the jewelry industry and currently serves as president of the American Gem Society.

[span class=note]This story is from the August 2007 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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