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Offering the Grandest
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Shane Woodruff wanted to create something that Texarkana had never seen before.

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Crocker’s Fine Jewelry, Texarkana, TX

URL: crockersjewelers.com; OWNER: Shane Woodruff; FOUNDED: 1984; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2014; INTERIOR DESIGN: Leslie McGwire & Associates; ARCHITECT: Joe Crews; STORE PLANNERS: Retail Space Planning; SHOWCASES: Artco; AREA: 8,000 square feet; COST OF BUILDOUT: $2.5 million; EMPLOYEES: 14; TOP BRANDS: Pandora, Alex and Ani, Lagos, Simon G, Hearts On Fire, Gabriel & Co., Joshua J, Dabakarov, Henri Daussi, Honora, Heather Moore, LeVian


SHANE WOODRUFF, LIKE many jewelers building big freestanding stores, was faced with the challenge of creating a grand, one-of-a-kind retail space while also making it inviting.

“I knew I wanted this store to stand out. I wanted a grand presence while keeping it welcoming,” Woodruff says.

Although Woodruff spent several years dreaming up and sketching the initial plan himself, he gives interior designer Leslie McGwire credit for achieving that balance in both the exterior and interior design of the 8,000-square-foot Crocker’s Fine Jewelry store he opened last year.

“We wanted to mix it up a little, mood-wise,” says McGwire, who softened the impact of the dramatic, elegant space with silk draperies, distressed flooring, chocolate brown cases and a fireplace lounge area, where shoppers can kick back, put their feet up and watch TV.

As for the drama, the entryway is accented with two 3-foot-tall gas lanterns scaling the sides of large custom built wrought-iron doors, which feature the Crocker’s logo in the center. The wrought iron details are carried throughout the store in chandeliers and sconces.

Drawing on her experience as a spa designer, McGwire brought in touches of glamour, designing 15-foot-tall glass mosaics for each side of the entryway, using colors that established the palette for the entire store. Gold in the chandeliers and subtle specks of diamonds in wall coverings add to the luxurious effect. The two-tiered, two-tone ceilings mirror the shape of the case layout and provide the perfect height for lighting the cases below.

“Everything in the store has a specific purpose and flows wonderfully,” says Woodruff, who initially worried that the height of the ceiling would make lighting the space attractively impossible. “I lost sleep over it,” he says, but it turned out beautifully.

Bridal Beyond Basics

The bridal department takes center stage with 120 linear feet of displays. “Bridal is a big portion of our business,” Woodruff says. “And we wanted almost a store within a store. Our bridal center is circular, so it makes it easy for a customer to walk around and look.” Benches are tucked neatly under the counters, easy to slide in and out. The circle is flanked by walls of wedding bands and prototypes. A semi-private custom design area is incorporated into the bridal center with large screen computers to view CAD drawings.

Two private diamond rooms are ideally suited to review warranties and deliver rings in a relaxed setting — rather than over a counter or at a POS station, which Woodruff believes is anticlimactic after the life-changing process of shopping for bridal jewelry. “We wanted everything about the shopping experience to be special,” Woodruff says.

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Years of Contemplation

Woodruff bought prime property north of the interstate in 2008 to be the store site — right before the economy crashed.

It wasn’t the optimal time to build, to put it mildly. While biding his time, he collected ideas and began to sketch them on graph paper. Because he waited, he was able to subdivide the expensive lot he had bought, and eventually sold half an acre for enough money to nearly cover the whole project.

After three years, he took his sketches to store planners at Retail Space Planning. Joe Crews, a local architect fine-tuned it, and drew up the final plans. Artco added the showcase layout. Woodruff then happened to meet interior designer McGwire, who worked with him on filling in the crucial details.

“So now we had our team put together, and the one thing I wanted was something really unique, not like something Texarkana had ever seen,” says Woodruff, who is confident his wish came true.

Divine Intervention

Woodruff found his life’s work by happy accident, or, as he would say, divine intervention.

At 21, with a new baby and dental school enrollment imminent, Woodruff thought he had it all planned out.

But when his father-in-law, Joe Crocker, approached him about opening a jewelry store in Texarkana, TX, the prospect seemed exciting to a college student with a night job and a growing family.

The two succeeded in their venture, establishing Crocker’s as a respected family jeweler; after Crocker died suddenly a decade later, Woodruff continued to grow the operation, changing locations as the business evolved.

In 2014 the store celebrated its 30th anniversary with the grand opening of Woodruff’s dream store.

“We had some of our long-term customers come in who literally were brought to tears,” Woodruff says. “Because they’ve seen us go from one location to another over the years, and now we’ve moved to this premium location and a nice, huge store. That’s what mostly I enjoy, all of our customers and the relationships we’ve built over 31 years. Now their grandkids are buying from us.

“And now that we are in the prime location in Texarkana, we’re seeing tons of new people who have never shopped with us,” Woodruff says.

Woodruff also revels in the challenges of running the business.

“I know people who work their whole lives and say, ‘I can’t wait for 15 years to pass, so I can retire.’ But I never, ever, get up and say, ‘Oh, I’ve got to go to work.’

“Every day I get up and want to go to work, and yes, it’s very challenging, but that’s what excites me about it,” he says.

PHOTO GALLERY (10 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About Crocker’s Fine Jewelry

1. EXPLORE FROM AFAR.  There’s a Google virtual tour available to browsers on the bottom of the store’s website, allowing shoppers to explore virtually before they venture in.

2. ONLINE SHOPPING.  Crocker’s offers an e-commerce option, designed to ensure customers do research on their website, rather than competitors. Sales are not huge yet, but the shopping site reliably draws people into the store.

3. SOCIAL MEDIA MAVENS.  only the paid advertising. “We got a beautiful Christopher Designs wedding ring and my daughter put it on her Facebook page, and wrote, ‘OMG. It’s the ring I’ve always been looking for!’ And that week we sold two of them. One was $15,000; one was $12,000. So Facebook has been huge for us,” Woodruff says. Frequent posts, including contests, have helped build an impressive following of 17,000.

4. ENTRY-LEVEL LINES.  Carrying lines like Alex and Ani and Pandora eases threshold resistance in the grand new building. “I’ve heard people come in and say, ‘Oh, I’m underdressed,’ Woodruff says. “But the wonderful thing about having brands that are so popular is it lets people know that, ‘I can afford something there!” Then when you walk in we have a greeter who welcomes you with a warm chocolate-chip cookie, coffee or Coke. There are a certain number of people who do convert. We’ve sold $15,000 and $20,000 items to people who came in for a bracelet.”

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5. ROOM TO PARTY.  For the store’s grand opening, Crocker’s hosted an event every week for eight weeks. Other years, they host at least one event per quarter and several in the fourth quarter. “We probably had 220 people at our grand-opening event and had lots of room,” Woodruff says.

Try This

Woodruff requires every employee to read INSTORE cover to cover every month. “There are many things in there that we could spend hours and hours and hours trying to teach — and it’s all right here,” Woodruff says.

The kids’ corner is adjacent to the bridal area. Why? Many bridal clients bring along small children when shopping for second-time-around rings.

Create local celebrities. The bridal center houses five large Duratrans featuring images of local brides, who love stopping by to see their lighted, black and white photos on display.

Consider CAD design. “I used to cringe when people wanted to do custom because my jeweler would get a chunk of wax and a knife and carve it to whatever the customer wanted, spend a week doing it, and if the customer comes back and changes their mind, well, we just lost a week of work. Now with CAD, it’s fun,” Woodruff says.

 

JUDGES’ COMMENTS
  • Paco Underhill:  I like the ceilings. Presentation is often about impressive spaces (read: high ceiling) but creating intimacy (read: lower ceiling) helps foster the sale.
  • Pamela Froman:  I loved the mixture of elegance with fun touches, like the colorful children’s area. I think the private rooms for clients who don’t want to shop in front of everybody are nice; I have worked with men who don’t want to be seen looking for engagement rings and this is perfect.
  • Kevin Reilly:  The philosophy that Crocker’s customers are “celebrities” is a very compelling one. Featuring local artwork and images of local newlywed couples is a creative way to engage their community.
  • Monica Stephenson:  I love that Crocker’s is embracing social media wholeheartedly.
  • Paul J. Russell:  he store has a stand-alone presence that screams elegance. I love the exterior architecture and the well designed interior, including the top-of-the-line shop-in-shops, man cave and the kids’ corner. This isn’t your ordinary jewelry store, the advertising is integrated and relevant, but presents the same flair as most upscale jewelry stores.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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