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America's Coolest Stores

ACS 2008: Judges and Methodology



What Makes a Cool Store?

Susan Eisen

A cool store is one that sticks out from the crowd, causes excitement and wonder when you walk in, makes you “ooh” and “ahh,” at not only the jewelry but the interior, and makes you feel comfortable and wanted.

Kate Peterson
Management Consultant

I think that a cool store is one that starts with the owner’s clear vision — a vision that defines the brand. The vision directs everything from the product choices to the staff selection, to the architectural design of the store, to the marketing and message to the public. Anyone (given enough time and enough money) can build a beautiful store, but to me cool is an attitude — the foundation, not the result.

Amanda Gizzi
Trend Watcher

Cool is making customers forget that jewelry is not a necessity.


Caroline Stanley
Marketing Consultant

All the cool stores have things in common: Creative, out-of-the-box thinking, people behind them willing to take chances on the unusual, strong partnerships with industry suppliers and, importantly, solid yet creative marketing.

James West
Jewelers Guild Developer

Here’s what doesn’t make a cool store: A marble mausoleum displaying trinkets that exudes the image of “our prices are too high,” or an environment where you feel you will be “pounced on” by high-pressure salespeople. Take that away, and you’re halfway to cool.

Renee Singer
Jewelry Wholesaler

The coolest store says, “Visit us often” and provides plenty of reasons to do so.


Kris Kargel
Branding Expert

Cool stores know it’s not just about the merchandise. Great retailers are brands that live in the hearts and minds of their clientele. Their passion is visible in every detail that went into creating an experience that is consistent, authentic and speaks to their target audience. Being cool requires authenticity and cohesiveness throughout the entire experience.

James Porte
Marketing Expert

Whether I am dealing with a sales associate or the owner of the store, if they convey to me that they love what they are doing, that’s cool! And how I am dealt with when a problem arises is the real telltale sign of a very cool store.

Angus Goble Architect

A cool store’s design should embrace and explore the product and effortlessly support the store’s branding.


Jon Parker
Head Hunter

To me it is a store that knows how to tie it all together. The environment, the displays and its offerings, presented by a knowledgeable staff that you can tell is excited to be there and serve.

Terry Chandler
Jewelry Educator

A cool store is greater than the sum of its parts and a total reflection, at every point, of the owners’ concepts and thought processes. Each element must fit exactly into the original idea. In other words, there are no sour notes or pieces that don’t resonate the entire theme. From the cases to the merchandise to the packaging, all the parts work together to make the intended statement. Add to that originality and creativity, coupled with associates who radiate energy and enthusiasm and a cool store appears before your very eyes! Every time!


1. Ann Arnold, Chief Financial Officer/Vice President, Lieberfarb Inc.

Since 1993 Arnold has overseen finances and sales for Lieberfarb. In 2006, she was elected president of the Women’s Jewelry Association. She sits on the boards of the MJSA and the JBT.

2. James E. Dion, President, Dionco Inc.

Dion is a consultant, keynote speaker, trainer and author. He consults, trains and speaks on consumer trends, retail technology, selling and service, retail merchandising and operations. He has 30 years of retail experience working at Sears, Levi Strauss and Gilmore Department Stores.

3. Susan Eisen, Owner, Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry and Watches

Eisen is an El Paso, TX, retail jewelry store owner and author of Crazy About Jewelry! An Expert Guide to Buying, Selling and Caring for Your Jewelry. She hosts a weekly radio talkshow about jewelry.

4. Angus Goble, President, Angus Goble, LLC

In 2003, architect Goble founded Front, a façade practice focusing on specialist glass design and innovative façade design. Goble went on to found Angus Goble, LLC with offices in New York and associate offices in Granada, Spain.

5. Kristopher Kargel, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Chippenhook

Kargel’s expertise is in creating branded images for leading jewelers, retailers and luxury brands through developing coordinated visual merchandising and packaging programs that improve sales.

6. Jon Parker, Senior VP, DJP Executive Search Inc.

Parker’s company is the only retainer-based executive-search firm that serves the fine jewelry industry exclusively. He consults with the industry’s leading retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers in the discreet development of new positions as well as fulfilling their employment needs.

7. Caroline Stanley, President/CEO, Red Jewel Inc.

Stanley’s company provides marketing, consultancy and communications solutions for the jewelry trade. She is the author of Jewelry Savvy: What Every Jewelry Wearer Should Know.

8. James West, Executive Director, Leading Jewelers Guild

For 28 years West has worked on expanding Leading Jewelers Guild. West focuses on the development and growth of membership, providing unique and profitable services to its constituents.

[componentheading]SMALL COOL JUDGES[/componentheading]

1. & 2. Bill and Sharon Blair, Executive Directors, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and South Dakota Jewelers Associations

Bill Blair has been an association director and show manager for 50 years. He has been a coordinator and marketing director for the Jewelers Executive Conference for nine years. Sharon Blair has been directing jewelry-related shows and associations for 25 years. She was also instrumental in the founding of the Jewelers Executive Conference.

3. Terry Chandler, President and CEO, Diamond Council of America

Through the nonprofit Diamond Council of America, Chandler provides education and training for jewelers and jewelry salespeople. Chandler spent more than 20 years operating retail stores in the

4. Amanda Gizzi, Associate Director for Public Relations and Spokesperson, Jewelry Information Center

As a nationally recognized industry spokesperson, Gizzi is an authority on fine jewelry and watch trends. She works closely with the media, helping to increase the visibility of fine jewelry and watches, in addition to teaching seminars on marketing, PR and trend forecasting to retailers and manufacturers in the jewelry and watch industry.

5. Brad Huisken, President, IAS Training

Huisken has written several books and his company delivers seminars and in-house consulting on sales and sales management. Huisken has spoken at numerous tradeshows and writes articles
on selling skills.

6. Kate Peterson, President and CEO, Performance Concepts

Peterson provides sales and management consultancy for retail jewelers. She has written the Real Deal column in INSTORE since 2002.

7. James Porte, President, Porte Marketing Group, Co-founder and Partner, Target Mailers

Porte founded the Jewelry Marketing Institute and Porte Marketing Group in 1989 in an effort to help jewelers better market and brand their stores. He is also president and founder of Target Mailers, an online web-to-print company that offers printing, mailing and e-mailing services.

8. Renee Singer, President, Start-to-Finish

Start-to-Finish, LLC is a family owned and operated wholesale jewelry business in Birmingham, AL. Singer is on the board of the Alabama Jewelers Association and was named the 2008 associate member of the year.

This story is from the August 2008 edition of INSTORE



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