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Here's What You Say (or Rather, Write)

Don't try to write. Instead, imagine talking about your store to a friend.

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THIS IS THE “WRITE STUFF,” baby.

The text portion of the America’s Coolest Stores contest entry form seems to stymie a lot of retailers. I get a lot of store owners and employees who tell me they “can’t write,” and I suspect that lack of confidence is at the root of the problem.

So, one word of advice in general before we move on to specifics (and this will serve you well as you fill out your entry and beyond): The vast majority of people I meet in the jewelry industry are articulate, thoughtful speakers of English, and that most likely includes you. So don’t try to write. Instead, try to type what you would say in conversation with a friend. What comes out is guaranteed to be far more clear and less stilted.

For the text portion of the entry, I would advise you to first write your entries in a separate application, such as Microsoft Word, and to save frequently while writing. Computers tend to crash or freeze at the worst times, and if that happens while you’re typing into the online entry form, odds are you’ve just lost all your work. So complete your entry in Word, then copy and paste it into the online form. Check word counts as you write, so that you don’t write far less — or worse, far more — than you’re supposed to.

Here are some “musts” to include in the first two sections of the text portion:

STORE HISTORY
  • Who founded the business? Were any other notable family members, like siblings, involved?
  • What led the founder(s) to open the store? For instance, my great-grandfather was a jewelry maker in Hungary before he immigrated — that sort of thing is worth noting.
  • What’s the genealogy of the ownership? You don’t have to go into detail, but it’s nice for us to know which hands it came down through.
  • Are you in the same location as when your business was founded? Have you moved (and if so, why)? What other locations have you opened (and when, and why)?
  • Any cool events in your store’s history? Another for instance: When the king and queen of Sweden visited Fargo, our family’s store made a commemorative medal for them.
  • Does anyone else in the family work there now? Any successors or potential successors to the current owners yet?
WHAT’S COOL ABOUT THE PHYSICAL DESIGN OF YOUR BUSINESS?
  • Easy on the subjective adjectives. Don’t tell us your fireplace or wood floor is “beautiful”. Let us judge that for ourselves. Instead, tell us the type of brick or style of wood.
  • Talk about how your design serves customers. Successful store designs don’t only look great; they work great for both employees and customers. So we love to hear stories about retractable showcases that make store closing a snap; or showcases designed for side-by-side selling.

More on this and the remaining text portions of the entry next time. Meanwhile, please leave questions or concerns in the comments below, or email them to [email protected].

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