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Commentary: The Business

Don Muller: Can’t Buy This Kind of Cool



Winner of 2010’s contest says that the accolade pays benefits every day.

This article originally appeared in the August 2011 edition of INSTORE.

Being chosen as INSTORE Magazine’s 2010 America’s Coolest Store in the small store category was a thrill of a lifetime. The award can never be taken away, and I will continue to put out the word that The Don Muller Gallery is the “Coolest.”

Having just completed the judging for the 2011 winners, I was surprised that more stores did not enter the contest. When I mentioned this to the editors at INSTORE, they replied that many retailers considered it too much work to even apply.

When I first decided to enter the contest, my manager and I divided up the responsibilities amongst our employees. We were each responsible for a particular part of the entrance requirements.


When everything was done, I realized that all of the work was well worth the effort, even if I didn’t place or win. It gave us an opportunity to update our website, have professional photographs of the gallery taken, re-examine our mission statement, and take a closer look at our advertising — all things that needed to be done!

“I clearly remember how excited I was when I was told we had won first place in the contest. It literally made my hair stand up!”

Rather than looking at the amount of work to enter the contest as a hardship, we decided to treat it as a fun project that in the end would better the gallery.

Upon entering the contest I never thought we would win! My hope was that we would place in the Top 5 and be represented in the magazine.

I clearly remember how excited I was when I was told we had won first place in the contest. It literally made my hair stand up! My employees also shared in this excitement, and there is not a day that goes by that we don’t mention the award to customers. We proudly hang a banner outside the gallery proclaiming us to be the “Coolest.” There’s hardly a person who walks by and looks at the banner that doesn’t stop in to check out the gallery.

Being the “Coolest” has definitely been a boost for my business. I couldn’t afford to pay for the excitement and enthusiasm the award has generated for my business! So, before you think that applying is too much work, think again!




Don Muller is owner of The Don Muller Gallery in Northampton, MA, which was named America’s Coolest small jewelry store in INSTORE’s 2010 contest.


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