OUR CONTEST IS NOW CLOSEDThanks for all your entries. Now it’s time to brace yourself for a summer blast of cool!The 2019 America’s Coolest Stores Contest is now closed for entries. Subscribe to our daily news bulletins to be the first to learn the winners in late July, or wait to read all about our five Big Cool and five Small Cool winners in our August print edition.SEE RULES AND INSTRUCTIONS BELOWTIPS FOR A WINNING ENTRYTIP 1: GET YOUR CONTEST ENTRY IN GREAT SHAPE TIP 2: BEFORE YOU START TIP 3: BASIC INFO AND STATS TIP 4: YOU GOTTA STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD TIP 5: FINE-TUNE YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE TIP 6: PHOTOS REALLY ARE WORTH AT LEAST A THOUSAND WORDS TIP 7: HERE’S WHAT YOU SAY (OR RATHER, WRITE) TIP 8: THE REST OF THE STORY2019 RULES AND INSTRUCTIONSELIGIBILITYRetail jewelry stores in North America and the Caribbean that have not been previous America’s Coolest Stores winners (those featured in the August issue of INSTORE or as monthly Cool Store magazine features). Previous winners may enter other store locations, and they may enter if their winning location has been substantially renovated, modified or expanded since being featured in INSTORE. Businesses must have been open for retail sales for at least one year prior to entering. Entrants’ Jewelers Board of Trade credit reports will be checked during the month of April 2019. Entries scoring below FIN2 are ineligible to move on to the final round of judging.Stores will be divided into two categories based on the stores’ number of full-time employees, not including the owner(s), once all entries have been submitted and verified by the staff of INSTORE. Big Cool and Small Cool divisions will be determined once all the entries have been submitted and verified.TO ENTERVisit instoremag.com/acs, click the “Enter” button, and create an account. Doing so will allow you to save a draft of your entry and update it later as needed. (To access your entry after creating an account, use your email address and password under Login.) In order to be considered for the competition, entrants must complete all required fields in the entry form (general information, online presence and store stats) and submit the following materials:1. Story: Store history / bio. Entrants are required to answer two questions — “Tell us the story of your business”, in which you share the basic details of how your business came to be, and “What’s cool about the physical design of your business?”, so you can brag about the incredible features of your store.This year, entrants are asked to choose which additional questions they’d like to answer about their business — with a MINIMUM of 3 of 8 questions required. Here are the questions:Provide three fun facts about your business.What’s cool about your staff? What cool things do you do for them?What’s cool about your digital presence? (Including website, social media, online ordering, texting, etc.)What’s cool about your marketing?What’s cool about your community presence?What’s cool about the operational or structural part of your business?What’s cool about your customer experience?What’s one out-of-the-box idea you have implemented in the past year?2. 3-12 color images of the store’s exterior. (JPEG files only, up to 20MB in size.)3. 6-12 color images of the store’s interior. (JPEG files only, up to 20MB in size.)4. 1-3 photos of your business’s owners. (JPEG files only, up to 20MB in size.)5. Marketing samples – 3-12 of print, radio, billboards, stationery and collateral. (Image files should be JPEG or PDF format, up to 20MB in size.)6. Radio spots and videos (optional). Provide up to five YouTube (or other similar Web-based audio/video hosts) URLs on the lines provided. Note that the entry form will not accept audio or video files directly this year.Until March 15, 2019, you may log in to edit your entry by going to instoremag.com/acs and clicking the “Enter” button. If you forget your password, click on the link in the “LOGIN” page to request it.JUDGING METHODOLOGYStep 1: From all initial entries, finalists in each division will be selected by INSTORE’s editors.Step 2: Our panel of industry-expert judges will be divided between the two divisions and will rate each finalist from 0-100 in six categories: story, exterior appearance, interior appearance, advertising and marketing, store website and overall individuality.Step 3: Total scores are calculated weighting the categories according to importance: story 50 percent, exterior 50 percent, interior 100 percent, advertising 50 percent, online presence 50 percent and individuality 100 percent. The top five stores in each category are then determined. STORY 50% EXTERIOR 50% INTERIOR 100% ADVERTISING 50% ONLINE 50% INDIVIDUALITY 100% WINNERSWinners will be notified in early June. The top three stores in each category will be featured in the August issue of INSTORE. Honorable Mentions in each category will be featured in subsequent monthly editions of the magazine through June 2019. Entering the contest indicates an understanding that a reporter will interview the store owner, manager and staff and that the store is expected to provide high-resolution images of the store and owner(s) for publication. Winners will be permitted to use the Amrica’s Coolest Stores logo, in their promotional materials, indicating they have been chosen as such by INSTORE magazine. MEET LAST YEAR’S WINNERSRead our online profiles of “Big Cool” winner Stephen Webster of Stephen Webster Beverly Hills Boutique and “Small Cool” winner Julie Ettinger of Ylang-Ylang. Or check out INSTORE’s August 2018 issue, which features Webster and Ettinger on the cover.