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America's Coolest Stores

ACS 2008: Third Place Big Cool, Tivol




LOCATION: Kansas City, MO
OWNER: Cathy Tivol
EMPLOYEES: 36 at Country Club Plaza (69 in all three locations)
AREA: 10,000 square feet
BRANDS: Rolex, David Yurman, Cartier, Penny Preville, TAG Heuer, Beaudry, Roberto Coin, Panerai, Patek Philippe, Mikimoto

Looking back at Tivol’s success over the years it’s easy to see why Harold Tivol always has that smile on his face. The first Tivol store was founded in 1910 by immigrant Charles Tivol. A meticulous craftsman, Tivol built up a loyal clientele based on his reputation for consistent quality. His son, and current chairman of the company, Harold Tivol, injected the business acumen and marketing savvy that enabled the opening of a new store at the Country Club Plaza in 1951. Originally operating from a  4-by-15-foot space, the store initially grew to 6,000 square feet after a couple of expansions and renovations. That store, the company’s flagship, now occupies a gargantuan 10,000 square feet. Currently under the leadership of third-generation Cathy Tivol, the company has another two successful area branches.[/dropcap]


Long-Term Relationships

1Tivol’s long history has done more than make the store a local landmark. Relationships forged over many years play an important role in the store’s success. “One element of the business philosophy at Tivol is focused on relationships. Our sales professionals know birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones in customers’ lives,” says Kevin Gabriel, Tivol’s marketing director. The store continues to draw on past relationships and family ties to expand and solidify its current customer base, he says. “Just as Tivol is now being led by the third generation, we have third and fourth generations of families now shopping with us.” Tivol stresses the importance of relationship building and management when targeting corporate clients. “As part of our corporate services, we have ideas on gift etiquette to remind other business professionals of the importance of building relationships. One way to do this is with a corporate gift to recognize a job well done, to say thank you for your business, and to demonstrate to employees, clients, volunteers or vendors that they are valued,” Gabriel says.

Selling With a Smile

2In contrast to the often rather somber image portrayed by some luxury jewelers, Tivol is a store that manages to ooze sophistication while firmly keeping a smile on its face. The store’s humorous, eye-catching advertising can be attributed in part to Harold Tivol’s own character and flair for marketing. Working with a local Kansas City ad agency, Tivol recently executed a series of ads that feature Mr. Tivol and highlight his extraordinary sense of humor. “He is so well known in our community — he really is the brand icon of Tivol — and we wanted to show him as the kind, funny and approachable gentleman that he is. While we are a luxury jewelry store and cater to a high-end clientele, we want to decrease the intimidation factor that some may feel,” Gabriel says.

The Tivol Experience

3“It is the Tivol experience that makes us different,” Gabriel says. In terms of product, the majority of brands carried by Tivol are exclusive in the market and overlap is minimal. While Gabriel sees product differentiation as an important way to stand out, he’s quick to stress the need to provide a complete package. “We focus on the overall experience,” he says. “We want customers to feel like it is a small escape when they walk into one of our stores.” Tivol has transformed its bridal area and lounges into cozy sanctuaries and has LCD monitors throughout the store. While visitors can catch the game or latest news, Tivol uses the opportunity to broadcast timely and topical videos to its captive audience. “The music, the televisions and magazines all add to the experience of dealing with a knowledgeable sales staff that enjoys the opportunity to educate a customer and help them select the perfect piece,” Gabriel says.


Tivol in Print

4In response to the success of the store’s catalogs, rather than rely on outside publications alone to carry the brand, Tivol produces its own twice-yearly magazine. Published by Business Journals, Inc. in New York City, Tivol Accent is a slick and stylish magazine that wouldn’t look out of place alongside industry-leading fashion publications. And it’s not merely an advertising vehicle; there’s plenty of substance to keep even those without an immediate interest in jewelry occupied. The magazine is a reader-friendly mix of fashion spreads, specialist jewelry and lifestyle features that no doubt carries the Tivol brand and unique character to smart coffee tables around the city and beyond. “The magazine helps us touch base with customers again. It helps cement relationships,” says general manager Brian Butler.

Balancing Grandeur and Welcome

5“The design concept for Country Club Plaza was to certainly make it more inviting as it gets a lot of traffic from people visiting this outdoor shopping district,” says Gabriel. The store features a dramatic combination of glass and lighting to maximize the wow factor without scaring off potential customers. Glass exterior walls showcase Tivol’s many brands to full effect while adding to the inviting ambience of the store. Immediately upon entering, customers are greeted by a mesmerizing 8-foot water sculpture. The sculpture was tailor-made for Tivol from layers of handcrafted glass, which are beautifully illuminated. Located near the lounge, the sculpture serves as both a visual and aural feature, with the soothing sound of running water imbuing a calming ambience.


• Tivol’s welcoming atmosphere is not reserved for two-legged guests only. The store is now complete with its own bar for dogs — a small granite bar with a stainless steel insert — on the exterior of the store, ensuring fresh water is always available to canine guests. The store even hosted a grand opening event for the Doggie Bar and raised funds for a local animal shelter in conjunction with a Penny Preville show.

• The store’s lounge has an oven in which cookies are baked fresh for customers. The aroma creates a wonderfully comforting atmosphere.

• Established in 1922, Country Club Plaza was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. The plaza was inspired architecturally by Seville, Spain, and is named in the Project for Public Spaces list of “60 of the World’s Great Places.”

         TRUE TALE


“Harold Tivol thought he would learn the jewelry industry alongside his father, Charles. Charles was a talented bench jeweler and was building a solid reputation in the industry. One day Charles showed Harold how to use a saw blade. He showed him on very simple pieces of scrap metal and then let him try to size a very thick-shanked ring. Harold took one slice into the ring and his finger at the same time. While Charles was driving Harold to the hospital, he mentioned a new course they were offering at the GIA and that maybe his talents would be better served away from the bench. Soon after, Harold completed his gemology coursework and made his mark on the sales floor building relationships with customers.” — Kevin Gabriel, Marketing Director

         TRY THIS

From time to time customers will inevitably lose or break a piece of jewelry. Rather than leaving them to negotiate the hurdles of insurance companies and replacements alone, the store lends a helping hand. Tivol works exclusively with the insured, the insurance carrier and the jeweler when jewelry is lost or damaged to make things as painless as possible for the customer.


Angus Goble

The well considered exterior suggests prestige and is complemented by a cool interior, extensive street visibility and well-considered displays.


James West
Jewelers’ Guild Developer

The design is very luxurious; a modern take on a classical jewelry store. Its well-thought-out visuals are placed on several levels, and dramatic lighting adds interest.

James E. Dion
Retail Consultant

The way they celebrate the customers’ four-legged friends by having a Doggie Bar that provides water for dogs is a great idea! I think that this store is great at special events, and having pictures on the website of customers enjoying the events makes the sense of community even greater.

Kris Kargel
Branding Expert

Clearly, both careful thought and great execution have gone into creating the store’s calm sensory delight. Well executed glass-to-glass cases weave through the building, ensuring the view of the product is unobstructed during the shopping journey, which has no clear beginning or end.

Susan Eisen

Tivol is really a very architectural and artistic store, with lots of dimension, color, and interest. I love a store that does not look like a typical jewelry store.

Jon Parker
Head Hunter

I’m impressed that, in all the years it has been around, Tivol hasn’t lost a step. In fact it has gained a few! The store is classic, beautiful, breathtaking and updated often. Tivol is the standard bearer; the benchmark.

Caroline Stanley
Marketing Consultant

Their coolness comes from a number of factors: their crisp black and white ads featuring Harold Tivol; an amazing waterfall; an outstanding selection of designer jewelry and other jeweled treasures. Combine all this with the legendary customer service and, yeah, you’ve got a cool store. Brilliant!

Ann Arnold
Manufacturing Expert

Tivol’s advertising was consistent, which I think is very important for all stores when trying to brand yourself to your customers.


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This story is from the August 2008 edition of INSTORE



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