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Store that are doing things righ: Dickinson Jewelers

[h3]Do-it-yourself store expansion[/h3]

[componentheading]THE IDEA[/componentheading]

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[dropcap cap=C]Complete a store expansion without closing up to do it. A general contractor might require you to close for six weeks, resulting in lost business (plus the cost of the contractor). Dickinson Jewelers’ owner Claude Dickinson had wanted to expand his 1,750-square-feet store for years. So when the unit next to his Dunkirk, MD, store opened up he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to double his store space. But how to execute? “It’s very expensive to have people come in and do the work while the store stays open,” he says. “And even so, it’s dusty, noisy, and uncomfortable.” So, he decided to become his own general contractor and framer.[/dropcap]

[componentheading]THE EXECUTION[/componentheading]

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Best of the Best: Dickinson Jewelers

As his own contractor, Dickinson could determine when to complete which tasks to minimize distractions in his store. He and his team tried to finish as much work as possible in the new space before tearing out the wall that separated it from his current store. Nels Lober, who designed the store, had the showcases pre-built and ready to install. And, as framer, Dickinson built new walls around office desks. “Every wall was moved, changed, and rebuilt,” he says. “We literally cut desks in half with some walls.” Dickinson arrived at 6 a.m. each day to work construction, began cleaning up at 9, and opened the store at 10 (with work in the new unit continuing throughout the day). The project began July 1 and was completed by mid-October. “We did lose some sales during the period when lighting was not ideal,” he admits. “That’s why we did it during the summer, when sales are slower anyway.”

[componentheading]THE REWARDS[/componentheading]

The store would have lost about $100,000 in sales if it had closed for six weeks. And Dickinson saved about $75,000 in costs by doing some of the work himself. 

[componentheading]DO IT YOURSELF[/componentheading]

“The more you can plan ahead and keep your mind on the jewelry business, and not on the construction business, the better off you’ll be,” Dickinson says. He figures he may have lost sales simply because his mind was elsewhere. That said, he wouldn’t hesitate to be the general contractor if it were a new location entirely — but he warns jewelers that managing the construction process is “a major undertaking.”

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[span class=note]This story is from the July 2008 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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