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America's Coolest Stores

America’s Coolest Stores: Judges and Methodology




[componentheading]BIG COOL JUDGES[/componentheading]

(1) ADAM GRAHAM is the marketing manager for the American Gem Trade Association. Graham formerly served as a jewelry manager for Saks Fifth Avenue, as a vice president for the Rapaport Group and as director of marketing for the American Gem Society.

(2) BOB TACZALA. A principal with the award-winning firm of Brand+Allen Architects, Bob Taczala, AIA, has been associated with some of the most prestigious names in the fashion and jewelry industry. Many of his designs for independent jewelry stores have been past Cool Store winners.

(3) KATY BRIGGS is vice president for brand strategy at Willoughby Design, a nationally recognized strategic brand design firm. Her extensive brand and agency experience includes work for jewelry retailers such as Borsheims, Tivol, Whitehall Jewellers and Helzberg Diamonds.


(4) MICHAEL M. CLARKE is vice president for finished jewelry at Stuller, Inc. Formerly an independent retail storeowner and DPS manager, Canada, immediately prior to Stuller, Clarke served as divisional vice president for merchandising at Birks & Mayors Jewelers headquartered in Montreal.

(5) SARAH READ is director of sales and marketing for 2008’s Big Cool winner, Lee Read Jewelers. She facilitates day-to-day guest experiences and coordinates the overall Lee Read Brand Experience.

(6) TODD REED is a jewelry designer who brings artistic appeal to fine jewelry through his use of raw diamonds. He is currently serving as president of the American Jewelry Design Council while managing his Boulder, CO studio.

[componentheading]SMALL COOL JUDGES[/componentheading]

(1) TIMOTHY MALONE is a trainer, consultant, author and educator with Malone Resource Group. He has worked with a wide variety of jewelry professionals in performance improvement training and consulting. He is the former lead marketing faculty member for the Gemological Institute of America’s School of Business.


(2) PENNY PREVILLE is an award-winning designer whose designs have been worn by such celebrities as Nicole Kidman, Eva Longoria, Hayden Panettiere, Anne Hathaway, Drew Barrymore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Oprah Winfrey and the iconic Jackie Onassis.

(3) CLIFFORD PUGH is a columnist for the Examiner newspaper group in Houston and was formerly the style critic at the Houston Chronicle, where he covered runway shows in New York, Milan and Paris, and wrote about luxury jewelers for Gloss magazine.

(4) STEVE SAMARAS owns Zachary’s Jewelers, 2008’s Small Cool winner. He brings more than 30 years of experience to the industry and continues to oversee every diamond and jewelry purchase so that it meets his
strict standards for quality and design.

(5) TOD MICHEL is the vice president of sales and marketing at Leslie’s, with responsibility for a national sales force of 12 people. He grew up in Europe and worked for several large international corporations in a marketing capacity until he joined Leslie’s 22 years ago.

(6) MICHAEL WHISTON manages Silver Hill Atelier in New York City, which creates hand-painted murals, faux finishes and custom artwork for the retail, hospitality and residential markets. Silver Hill has worked on interiors for such stores as Christian Bernard, Louis Martin and Mauboussin.

[componentheading]Methodology: How the Winners Were Picked[/componentheading]


[dropcap cap=T]his year’s contest featured our second year to split into two categories: Big Cool for stores with 6 or more full-time employees; and Small Cool for stores with 5 or fewer. From a total of 106 entries, 20 finalists per category were selected by instore’s editors. Six industry-expert judges per category provided the top five picks in each category. Judges viewed the entries on a specially created website and rated stores on a scale of 0 to 100 in six categories: story, exterior appearance, interior appearance, advertising and marketing, website and overall individuality. Total scores were calculated weighting the categories according to importance: story 50 percent, exterior 75 percent, interior 100 percent, advertising 50 percent, website 25 percent and individuality 100 percent. After determining the top five in each category, judges revisited the entry website to comment on each winner. Many thanks to our terrific judges and all those who entered! And congratulations to this year’s Coolest Stores! [/dropcap]



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