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America’s Coolest Stores 2017 Winners Revealed!
America’s Coolest Stores 2017 Winners Revealed!

America's Coolest Stores

America’s Coolest Stores 2017 Winners Revealed!

The Year’s Coolest Jewelry Retailers Unveiled!




Congratulations to the winners of the 16th annual America’s Coolest Stores Contest! In the following pages — and in the months ahead — discover why these stores earned the stamp of approval from our judges. As in past years, we divided the entries into two categories — Big Cool (six or more full-time employees) and Small Cool (five or fewer). We asked two five-member teams of judges to evaluate stores based on their back story, interior, exterior, marketing, online presence and what we here at INSTORE believe is the most important intangible: individuality.

Our six America’s Coolest and additional 10 Cool Store honorable mentions — each of which will be featured in INSTORE issues through June 2018 — represent creative approaches to doing business as well as aesthetically-pleasing retail environments. If you haven’t taken the time to enter yet, why not give it a shot in January 2018? The entry process alone can be invigorating. But before you do, have a look in the following pages at what puts these stores at the head of the 2017 class. We think you’ll be inspired!


Malak Atut is the “chief sparkle maker” at New York-based Zaiken Jewelry. She has served as president of the Contemporary Design Group and is on the board of the WJA.

Michelle Bailey, owner of interior design firm Atmospheres LLC in Michigan, has decades of experience creating diverse commercial and residential design projects.

Nick Boulle officially joined his family’s business, deBoulle Diamond & Jewelry, when the Dallas-based company opened its Houston location, which was named America’s Coolest Store in the Big Cool category in 2016.

Dan Kisch is the executive director at SmartWork Media, publishers of INSTORE, INVISION and Pets+. He has served on fund-raising committees and event boards including Jewelers for Children, NCCJ, UJA, AJC, ORT and the 24 Karat Club of New York.

Ben Smithee, CEO of the Smithee Group, is an expert in digital marketing, the future of retail and the millennial consumer.


Monique delaHoussaye-Breaux, president and principal designer of POSH Exclusive Interiors, designed Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, LA, voted one of America’s Coolest Stores in 2016.

Bernadette Mack is the executive director of the Women’s Jewelry Association, a non-profit focused on the advancement of women in the jewelry and watch industries.

Thomas Mann owns Thomas Mann Gallery I/O in New Orleans, 2016’s America’s Coolest Store in the Small Cool category.

Josette Patterson opened her first showroom and studio with husband Mark in Corona Del Mar, CA, in 2010. In 1986, they established their jewelry design firm in the heart of New York City’s diamond district.

Megan Whitmire is marketing manager for the American Gem Trade Association and secretary for the Dallas Chapter of WJA. She graduated from the Art Institute of Dallas with a bachelor of fine arts in fashion marketing and management.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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Wilkerson Testimonials

Retirement Made Easy with Wilkerson

The store was a landmark in Topeka, Kansas, but after 80 years in business, it was time for Briman’s Leading Jewelers to close up shop. Third generation jeweler and owner Rob Briman says the decision wasn’t easy, but the sale that followed was — all thanks to Wilkerson. Briman had decided a year prior to the summer 2020 sale that he wanted to retire. With a pandemic in full force, he had plenty of questions and concerns. “We had no real way to know if we were going to be successful or have a failure on our hands,” says Briman. “We didn’t know what to expect.” But with Wilkerson in charge, the experience was “fantastic” and now there’s plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying a more secure retirement. “I would recommend Wilkerson to any retailer considering a going-out-of-business sale,” says Briman. “They’ll help you reach your financial goal. Our experience was a tremendous success.”

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