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Building the Store: Vaughan’s Jewelers – A Move Toward Relevance

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Building the Store: A Move Toward Relevance

In the world of luxury retail, staying relevant is a daily challenge. There are always new trends and new customers to keep up with.

BY BILL VAUGHAN

Published in the June 2012 issue

After being in business for 60-plus years, we at Vaughan’s Jewelers had mastered the art of traditions and maintaining our loyal customers, but there was much that needed to change, starting with our location.

Our once-vibrant shopping strip had been changing for years, and we had become a destination location. When space became available in the most well established shopping center in town, we were ready to make the move.

Sounds easy, right?

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Have you ever built a house and then spent the next 10 years discovering what you would have done differently? Well, then you can imagine the frustrations found in the world of rented retail space. After 34 years in the same space, my laundry list of things to do differently was extensive: taller cases, brighter colors, new lights, more shop space, more storage, a diamond center, new logo, movie screen and popcorn machine. (Alas, my wife, Kathy, put a halt on those last two items!)

Our old location was dated and cramped. The cases were in desperate need of a facelift, and there was no flow to the space. The new space is within inches of being the same width of the old store, yet taller ceilings and a new layout make it feel twice as wide.

We gained the most space in the depth of the store — we now have a shop area in which more than one person can fit in along with a microwave. (I still don’t know how we lived all that time without a microwave.)

We also took full advantage of the taller ceilings and added storage shelving all the way up in the back area.

Up front in the old store, diamond customers had to share the same aisle space with customers headed to the counter for repairs and payments, making for interruptions, not to mention a lack of privacy. At our new store, we dedicated an entire row of cases to our diamond customers in an area that is out of the way. The idea was to make serious conversations more comfortable. Our customers love our new taller cases, as do the employees; no one needs to bend over to see and customers appreciate the ease of seeing the pieces head-on, instead of just looking down on the top view.

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A common theme throughout the move was to repurpose when possible. The end result is a blend of old and new that balances seamlessly. We find our customers love learning that our “new” checkout counter is really our original one in disguise. We gave it new countertops and put new veneer on the front, which covered its display windows and, in turn, lets us use the backside for storage.

Similar transformations occurred throughout the store; chairs were recovered and shelving refinished to match the new color scheme, while some of the original displays sit next to the new cases. While repurposing saved us money, it also allowed us to preserve tradition, which is important for a jeweler.

While some of the cases and furniture were maintained, the overall look is drastically different. Gone is the high contrast of teal and cream, replaced by aqua, lime, blues and some coral. We wanted a soft, yet cheerful, environment that would be welcoming to our customers and would balance the warmth of the wooden cases. Lighting was updated as well. The new cases are outfitted with museum lighting set in the rear, allowing for a seamless front edge and greatly increased visibility. We also added LED lights over every display to throw direct white light on the product.

Other additions include a refreshment armoire that houses a coffee machine, mini-fridge, as well as snack and sitting areas.

Kathy finally got her own office while Tripp, our son and the third generation of the family to work in the store, has a door to his office so he can have private conversations with his diamond and custom design customers. We added two workstation desks on the floor for other employees, so now everyone has somewhere to work.

As for the exterior, our key concern was the public’s perception. If we were going through all the trouble of establishing a fresh new store, we wanted to show the community fresh new signage designed around a contemporary-looking logo.

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We also installed this new logo as a focal point on the back wall to give us the feeling of a brand. Outside, visibility was a must. We wanted our signage to differentiate us from the stores surrounding us, while also acting as an introduction to the shiny and sparkly goods on the inside.

After many hours of standing in the parking lot and staring at the building (while people stared at us), we concluded we had to concentrate on the blue hues we had used inside. We love our lime green internal walls, but the stores on either side of ours had lime green signage. We wanted to stand out! The final product is a one-of-a-kind, handmade sign. Our logo is silver leaf raised lettering that sparkles and changes with the light that hits it. (The dynamic aspect of the silver leaf catches the eye and is placed on top of high gloss royal blue mosaic tile.)

The result is a sign that lets the public know we are a dynamic and current place to do business while the “since 1949” in our logo reassures them that we know jewelry and are good at it.

The entire process has been momentous for the future of our company. We couldn’t have imagined the warm reception we have received from our community. Our customers tell us they enjoy feeling “uptown” even though we always treat them as friends.

I made it a point a long time ago to treat our store like our home — greet your guests at the door, welcome them in, help them, but most important, make sure they have a good time. We, at Vaughan’s Jewelers, are excited about our future in our new location. Now about that popcorn machine … well, I guess that is what the new microwave is for.

Bill Vaughan owns Vaughan’s Jewelers in Wilson, NC.

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