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Building the Store: Plateau Jewelers

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Building the Store: Plateau Jewelers

BY EILEEN MCCLELLAND

Plateau Jewelers

owner: Kelly Jensen / Renovation: 2011 Cost of Buildout: $170,000 / Area: 1,000 square feet / Designer: Keith Kovar of Grid 3 International Contractor: Reid Jensen (no relation to owner)

1,000 square feet of space gets a laundry list of amenities

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Retailer Kelly Jensen had been in his first, 1,000-square-foot location more than 10 years when he decided he needed more space for his combination store and shop.

He needed case space, to start with, of course, but he needed much more than that: His staff had nowhere to eat lunch, his office lacked privacy, and sales staff were interrupting bench jewelers all day long because they needed to use the ultrasound in the shop.

The logical solution seemed to be to move.

But, there really wasn’t anywhere else to go in Sammamish, WA, where he had established his business in 1996.

“The city of Sammamish is where we want to be and it is a bedroom community,” Jensen explains. “People commute into Belleville or Seattle. There is very limited retail or commercial space within the city — and the city likes it that way. So we were really limited as to where we could go.”

So Jensen contacted Grid 3 International to see if its store designers could somehow discover more space in his current store.

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“When I asked, ‘Can you provide this laundry list of things to me within 1,000 square feet?’ I expected them to laugh,” Jensen recalls. “But when they said ‘What’s off limits?’ And I said, ‘Nothing’s off limits,’ they said they could do it. And they did.”

That laundry list included a shop within the store, an ADA-compliant restroom, a lunchroom, a separate, private office with a view of the sales floor, a workstation on the show room floor, two POS stations, hidden catalog and tool storage, and a cleaning station closer to the showroom to solve the bottleneck in and out of the shop. And, of course, more showcase space.

“You hear about all these things, and you think, ‘What are you smoking? How can you do all that with 1,000 square feet?” Jensen recalls.

THE EXECUTION

But Keith Kovar, a principal of Grid 3, was undaunted. The key, he says, was planning everything down to the last inch, and designing custom cases and other fixtures to fit the space exactly. Sometimes, this meant little tweaks, like shortening a drawer. Sometimes, it meant compromise; although the staff now has a little lunch counter area, it’s not a fullblown kitchen.

It helped that Jensen knew exactly what he wanted.

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“People are often unsure as to what they want,” Kovar says. “They know they want to renovate, but they don’t have a sense of where they are going. He understood his business and what he was trying to do, so that list, although a challenge, made it quite easy to pack everything in there.”

The secret was to use the space more efficiently.

“He had some standard-size cases and so he was stuck with how they fit in the store,”

Kovar says. “When we came in to do it, going with custom cases, we did a number of initial layouts and some were angular, and the one he picked was circular. But in both cases, those layouts created more showcase footage, which was one of the main issues.”

Kovar made a serpentine case that created the curves he designed into the almost perfectly square space.

“The circular layout presents a nice flow through the space. We do a lot of things with curves, just because there’s a flow and it’s a bit softer.”

The color scheme was developed around Jensen’s signature color of blue and tied into tones reflecting the landscape — the shades of trees and water — of the Pacific Northwest.

When Jensen first saw the color swatches, though, he wasn’t immediately sold.

“I really stewed about whether those colors and materials were right. Finally, I said these guys are the professionals. I’m going to get out of their way, and I’m so glad I did. It just works!”

Form followed function; the ceiling was designed to accommodate the new lighting to its best advantage.

“The layout and the lighting are two of the most critical things in any jewelry store,” Kovar says. You want to make the merchandise sparkle and the store interesting to be in, and lighting goes a long way to achieving that.”

THE RESULTS

Kovar says that there aren’t too many inches in the store that could be used more effectively than they are being used now. In all, the project cost around $170,000, including casework and lighting and cabinets.

The color scheme was tied to the store’s signature blue and was meant to reflect the Pacific Northwest.

“It’s not just a box anymore; it’s an environment now,” Kovar says. “There’s a flow and a rhythm to it that really wasn’t there before. That’s part of what the whole store-planning business is about, creating an environment where you want to be.”

Jensen has been completely pleased and more than a little surprised with the results.

“Because we are a shop and a manufacturer, we take in a lot of jewelry for rework or repair, and so we were also able to station the tools of our trade in four separate locations around the store,” Jensen says. “They are in drawers underneath showcases and organized in a way that makes them easy to get at. So we’re not scrambling around looking for a loupe, like a chicken with its head cut off. We’re able to more efficiently help clients.

“I think from our clients’ perspective, we look like we know what we’re doing. We look professional. The jewelry shows extremely well, and as a result, that lends credibility.”


DO IT YOUR SELF

FRESHEN UP: Kovar recommends a refresh every five years and a major overhaul every 10 to 12.

BEFORE YOU KNOCK DOWN WALLS: If you need more merchandise space, look at how you display what you have now, Kovar says. “We’ve had clients who have reduced their inventory and seen increases in sales because sometimes there’s just too much in the case and the customer gets really confused.”

CONSIDER SELLING STYLE: Fixtures that accommodate side-by-side selling, where the customer and the salesperson are walking around a showcase together, are becoming popular, Kovar says. “But that only works if you’re committed to it. If you’re used to selling over a showcase, you may not be comfortable doing it that way and you’re not going to be successful.”

STRIVE FOR A COHERENT LOOK: Although designers and watch companies may want shops within your shop and branded space within your store, consider the overall look of your store before committing to such demands, Kovar says.

BE INVOLVED: “Kelly was involved,” says Kovar. “He really cared about what was happening. Any time that happens, those people get the best projects and are consequently the most successful.” Says Jensen, “I thought I was overwhelming Keith with emails and suggestions and changes, but he said, ‘The more you can tell me the better the design will be.”

CONSIDER: WHERE CAN YOU GO? Jensen made arrangements with his landlord to move to another location for nine weeks, which was three doors down from his store that was under construction. “It was a difficult nine weeks, in a space that wasn’t made for us and without adequate ventilation for manufacturing,” Jensen says. “But we put in some track lighting, and had to move our safe and put in an alarm system. We were closed in all for just four days.”

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