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Building the Store, Part 1: Grogan Jewelers: Celebrating The Beginning

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Building the Store: Celebrating The Beginning

 BY EILEEN McCLELLAND

Published in the September 2012 issue

(Part 1 of a series that will cover the construction of the new Grogan Jewelers store in Florence, AL, from initial plans to a projected spring 2013 completion.)

When Jay Klos sealed the purchase of a new property in July, he and his staff celebrated with champagne at the future site of Grogan Jewelers in Florence, AL.

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But although it took eight months to acquire that property, it wasn’t time yet for a ribbon cutting. It was only the first step.

Klos is building an 8,000-square-foot retail location in a growing area of Florence. Of that space, 5,500 square feet will be the new location of Grogan Jewelers. The remaining space will be rented out.

Grogan Jewelers had been at home in downtown Florence for 94 years, but Klos had run out of room to expand. So he found a property near the mall, where Publix is building a grocery expected to attract people from a 30-mile radius. “The location is awesome. It’s important to go for the best location you can possibly afford.”

After the champagne toast, Klos finalized plans with his architect and prepared for the demolition of the existing structure, a restaurant. Groundbreaking was tentatively scheduled for August and construction will take about nine months. Yet, he’s already posted the news on Facebook and the local newspaper has reported on his plans. “I want to get the word out,” Klos says.

Already on Klos’s radar is the moving sale, which he will organize himself. “That’s a whole other project in itself, a major undertaking. You’ve got to be working on that months before you start it. Our plan is that the moving sale will pay for the cases and fixtures.”

Klos has come a long way from his start in the business — at age 8 — in his dad’s store in Jefferson City, MO, where he swept floors, while vowing under his breath that he’d never enter the trade. When he was promoted to engraver and, thus, banished to the basement shop, he was even more adamant about doing something else. “But I became a sales rep right out of college and I ended up coming to Florence, AL, to see a guy about some diamonds and he ended up selling me his store. My father was proud.

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THE BUDGET

Klos has rebuilt and expanded several times since then. But this project trumps anything he’s taken on before. The budget is $2 million, including the land, which is almost an acre and will allow room for barbecues and parties on the lawn. The building will have an additional 3,000 square feet of space that he’ll rent out to a complementary business.

When planning the budget, he broke the costs down between the building itself, the casework and essentials such as the computer system. He says costs such as signage and landscaping are often overlooked, but can be significant and should never be an afterthought. “I’m looking at a sign that’s $30,000. And people don’t even think about those things beforehand. But if you have time, you can do all of this before you put anything in the ground.”

 
Jay Klos (in yellow) and his staff celebrate closing the deal on the new location for Grogan Jewelers.

ALABAMA MEETS ASPEN

Klos envisions an elegant but casual store with stone floors in the main showroom and casual leather seating grouped around a calfskin rug and a 20-foot stone fireplace.

“It’s got to reflect your personality,” he says. “I like the mountains, so I thought about the chic, but rustic, look of Aspen, with glass and stone and wood and a metal awning. I want people to say, ‘Wow, that’s a different building, a cool looking place.’”

Another exciting aspect of the project for Klos is a sunken, bridal store-within-a-store. “Often, time forces you to make decisions because you’re on a deadline,” he says. This time, he was able to begin designing cases before breaking ground, and to consider the little things, as well, — where to put the wrapping paper station, where to put the mini-refrigerators under the cabinets, among other logistical details.

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He also decided he’d put an ultrasonic on the sales floor so associates won’t have to leave customers to clean their jewelry. “Most everybody has to go inside a jeweler’s area to do that and that’s something you do every single day. Small things like that are huge.”

STULLER INTERIORS

He’s learned, too, to hire people who know what they’re doing. “In the past, I’ve hired local cabinet guys to build the cases; it’s not quite the same as getting cases from somebody who does this for a living,” Klos says.

So Klos teamed up with David Hollingshead, director of Interiors by Stuller, after he caught sight of an Interiors by Stuller display at the SMART Show in Chicago in April. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is so cool.’ I sent some other jeweler friends to look at it and they all agreed that it was cool, different and unique, but functional, as well — that it would sell the jewelry.”

Hollingshead proposed eye-level, shoulder-to-shoulder-style contemporary displays along with some traditional cases and open-sell areas to accommodate silver and prototype bridal. “Customers can approach from the side, instead of having a sales person standing behind the case, hoping that the customer comes over to the case that they are guarding,” Hollingshead says. “It’s a much more interactive shopping area.”

And because cases are staggered and of different shapes and heights, rather than in one straight line, “you can’t see everything at once and it makes you wander.”

Hollingshead has also been shopping for interesting furniture and lighting fixtures to fit the elegantly casual theme, including a 10-foot leaning mirror flanked by a narrow, tall chair. An artisan console table with an easel behind it will be backed by a curtain. A 52-inch diameter Ralph Lauren light fixture will pull the outside look into the interior by complementing the exterior metal awning. Huge decorative lights will illuminate corners.”

 
The architect’s plans for the new Grogan Jewelers.

 

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