America’s Coolest Class of 2021 demonstrates ability to evolve and grow through challenging times. BIG COOL: 1ST PLACE Small Cool: 1st Place BIG COOL: 2ND PLACE SMALL COOL: 2ND PLACE BIG COOL: 3RD PLACE SMALL COOL: 3RD PLACE HONORABLE MENTIONS JUDGES Congratulations to the winners of INSTORE’s 2021 America’s Coolest Stores Contest! And a special thanks to everyone who took the time to enter this year. Our six America’s Coolest and additional 10 Cool Stores — each of which will be featured in INSTORE issues through summer 2022 — represent creative approaches to doing business and an ability to not only stay afloat but evolve during challenging times. This year’s winners share determination and faith in the future. Some opened new stores during a global pandemic; others completed major remodels. Almost universally, they had to rethink how they were doing business and integrate their online and bricks-and-mortar experience. They also, of course, have created appealing and functional retail environments on budgets ranging from a few thousand dollars into the millions. AMERICA’S COOLEST 2021 SPONSORS Each year, judges with expertise in store design, retail operations, visual merchandising, marketing and branding evaluate stores in multiple categories: back story, interior, exterior, marketing, online presence, and what we here at INSTORE believe is the key to cool: individuality. 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). If you haven’t taken the time to enter yet, please consider it in January 2022. Retailers have told us that the entry process alone can be inspiring and motivating because it requires them to assess all aspects of their businesses. And if you entered and weren’t chosen this time, feel free to update your entry and try again.