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Back to Underwoods: Cool Store Revisited

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Back to Underwoods: Cool Store Revisited

In 2006 , I had the good fortune to travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to cover INSTORE’s America’s Coolest Store for that year, Underwood’s Jewelers, owned by father-son team Bill and Craig Underwood. It was a thrill to see the architectural genius of the Fay Jones-designed building and store in person, but the store was cool for so many other reasons as well. Probably the coolest aspect of all is the people – everyone at Underwood’s (especially the Underwoods themselves) are friendly, nice, and incredibly enthusiastic about the jewelry business.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I returned to Fayetteville to watch our beloved Texas A&M Aggies play the Arkansas Razorbacks in football, and we were lucky enough to be able to spend some time catching up with the Underwoods. Bill gave me a demonstration of his patented new invention that could revolutionize the way diamonds are sold (more on that next week!), and Craig caught me up on what’s new in the store.

“We’ve continued to focus on custom design, which has always been a huge area for us,” he told me. “We’ve expanded our shop and hired another jeweler. It’s interesting – more of our custom designs in the past were a very tailored style. But recently, we’re seeing more of the hand-forged look, which is much more rough. We’re also seeing a move back toward yellow gold, particularly in fashion jewelry, which is nice.”

Craig said that the “raw jewelry” look (popularized by Todd Reed) has been requested more and more often by customers. Interestingly, he said the store started designing “rough” jewelry nearly 40 years ago.

“Back then, we did the nugget style that was so popular in the ‘70s – raw, uncut diamonds. Now we’re using opaque diamonds that are slightly faceted with the checkerboard pattern. We did a bracelet last year that we sent to AGTA and later to the Emmy Awards; it was chosen to be worn on the red carpet by Shaun Robinson, a reporter for Access Hollywood. So it’s a style that’s popular not only here in Arkansas but also on the West Coast as well.”

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I also learned some pointers from Craig on jewelry photography, as he photographs the store’s jewelry himself. He also produces the store’s annual video catalog – a 30-minute exposition of all of the store’s offerings that takes an enormous amount of time to put together. But he seems to love every minute of it. I also got Craig to tell me a story about a cool customer who came in recently to design a piece of jewelry for his wife – see the video on this page. I caught Craig on a “casual Friday,” and he was a bit uncomfortable to be filmed without a suit and tie, but I hope you’ll enjoy the story anyway!

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When Sales Beat Projections, You Know Wilkerson Did Its Job

There are no crystal balls when it comes to sales projections. But when Thomasville, Georgia jeweler Fran Lewis chose Wilkerson to run the retirement/going-out-of-business sale for Lewis Jewelers and More, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that even Wilkerson could one-up its own sales numbers. “Not only did we meet our goal, but we exceeded the goal that Wilkerson had given us by about 134%,” she says. After more than 40 years in the business, Lewis says she decided a few years ago to “move towards retirement.” And she was impressed by Wilkerson’s tenure in the industry. Overall, she’d recommend the company to anyone else who may be thinking it’s time to hang up their loupe. “As a full package, they’ve done a very good job and I’d definitely recommend Wilkerson.”

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Back to Underwoods: Cool Store Revisited

Published

on

Back to Underwoods: Cool Store Revisited

In 2006 , I had the good fortune to travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to cover INSTORE’s America’s Coolest Store for that year, Underwood’s Jewelers, owned by father-son team Bill and Craig Underwood. It was a thrill to see the architectural genius of the Fay Jones-designed building and store in person, but the store was cool for so many other reasons as well. Probably the coolest aspect of all is the people – everyone at Underwood’s (especially the Underwoods themselves) are friendly, nice, and incredibly enthusiastic about the jewelry business.

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I returned to Fayetteville to watch our beloved Texas A&M Aggies play the Arkansas Razorbacks in football, and we were lucky enough to be able to spend some time catching up with the Underwoods. Bill gave me a demonstration of his patented new invention that could revolutionize the way diamonds are sold (more on that next week!), and Craig caught me up on what’s new in the store.

“We’ve continued to focus on custom design, which has always been a huge area for us,” he told me. “We’ve expanded our shop and hired another jeweler. It’s interesting – more of our custom designs in the past were a very tailored style. But recently, we’re seeing more of the hand-forged look, which is much more rough. We’re also seeing a move back toward yellow gold, particularly in fashion jewelry, which is nice.”

Craig said that the “raw jewelry” look (popularized by Todd Reed) has been requested more and more often by customers. Interestingly, he said the store started designing “rough” jewelry nearly 40 years ago.

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“Back then, we did the nugget style that was so popular in the ‘70s – raw, uncut diamonds. Now we’re using opaque diamonds that are slightly faceted with the checkerboard pattern. We did a bracelet last year that we sent to AGTA and later to the Emmy Awards; it was chosen to be worn on the red carpet by Shaun Robinson, a reporter for Access Hollywood. So it’s a style that’s popular not only here in Arkansas but also on the West Coast as well.”

I also learned some pointers from Craig on jewelry photography, as he photographs the store’s jewelry himself. He also produces the store’s annual video catalog – a 30-minute exposition of all of the store’s offerings that takes an enormous amount of time to put together. But he seems to love every minute of it. I also got Craig to tell me a story about a cool customer who came in recently to design a piece of jewelry for his wife – see the video on this page. I caught Craig on a “casual Friday,” and he was a bit uncomfortable to be filmed without a suit and tie, but I hope you’ll enjoy the story anyway!

/* * * CONFIGURATION VARIABLES: EDIT BEFORE PASTING INTO YOUR WEBPAGE * * */
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var dsq = document.createElement(‘script’); dsq.type = ‘text/javascript’; dsq.async = true;
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})();

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.
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Advertisement

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

When Sales Beat Projections, You Know Wilkerson Did Its Job

There are no crystal balls when it comes to sales projections. But when Thomasville, Georgia jeweler Fran Lewis chose Wilkerson to run the retirement/going-out-of-business sale for Lewis Jewelers and More, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that even Wilkerson could one-up its own sales numbers. “Not only did we meet our goal, but we exceeded the goal that Wilkerson had given us by about 134%,” she says. After more than 40 years in the business, Lewis says she decided a few years ago to “move towards retirement.” And she was impressed by Wilkerson’s tenure in the industry. Overall, she’d recommend the company to anyone else who may be thinking it’s time to hang up their loupe. “As a full package, they’ve done a very good job and I’d definitely recommend Wilkerson.”

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