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America's Coolest Stores

My Store: Churchill’s Sally Hilkene



November’s “Cool Store” owner talks about her store.



[dropcap cap=C]HURCHILL is the fourth most important creation of mine. The first three creations are my gorgeous sons, Cullen, Clancey, and Wyatt. Churchill grew from an original store concept focusing on antiques and estate jewelry into Kansas City’s pioneer “lifestyle/concept” boutique. We offer exquisite items from precious antique jewels to couture jewelry, objets d’art, and fashion. All aspects reflect my love for design. [/dropcap]

I graduated from college with a double major in history of art and metalsmithing. An internship with a leading interior designer in Kansas City blossomed into a career in interior design. Jewelry design was put on a back burner and limited to personal items and gifts for family and friends.

Upon the sale of my family company, Spot Shot, in 2001 I decided to plan the store I had always dreamed to open.


In 2003 I opened the first location for Churchill and then moved into a larger, 12,000-square-foot space in Fairway, KS (just blocks east from KC’s famed Country Club Plaza) in 2006. The store caters to the full gamut of clientele: everyday consumers, accomplished designers and discriminating collectors. Thanks to my staff consisting of designers from all of these arts, my managers (Missy Gaines, and Chris Garrett) confidently claim “if we don’t have it, we can find it or design it for you.”

Many of our gems are one-of-a-kind, or pieces I have custom-designed for Churchill. Our jewelry cases are created in collages interspersing fine jewelry with artifacts and sculpture. We recently introduced the Churchill Private Label line of fine jewelry.

Former Kansas Governor and newly appointed Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius is a fan of Churchill. We supplied her jewels for her gubenatorial oath of office and the Inaugural Ball. We are proud to be thought of as a “destination” spot for anyone visiting Kansas City.

[inset side=right]With a caring staff whom customers say seem like “good friends” Churchill is a welcoming environment offering red carpet jewelry and fashion, but down to earth service. [/inset]

As one customer from Chicago said “Churchill is a shopping nirvana for which to make pilgramages!”. Churchill regularly stays open past closing hours to accommodate customers’ busy schedules. We provide a full bar and plasma TV for the non-shoppers who accompany the client searching for the perfect treasure.

Recently Churchill was chosen to represent the Midwest on an Oil of Olay-sponsored website launching in January 2010. will showcase and offer advice from the best of the country’s independently owned fashion and jewelry boutiques with founders who are over 50.


Most important Churchill believes in giving back and paying it forward. Since 2005, a percentage of retail sales are donated to local charities on a monthly basis. Churchill is the first store in the metro area to do this on a daily basis.

We have special events like “shake it up” nights during which Chris concocts drinks in conjunction with our “one-of-a kind” nights showcasing original jewelry designs (one of a kinds, not mass produced).

We have a local bakery prepare specially themed iced cookies for every event and holiday.

Satisfaction is our first priority. Customers can submit a wish list kept in our computer, providing helpful hints for their family members who might otherwise be shopping challenged.

Among our many fun marketing ideas, our Scorching Hot Casino Days sale is a customer favorite. We mail poker chip invitations to customers to announce the event. For our online customers we send an email blast showing a Vegas chorus line with our staffs’ faces superimposed on the dancers. During this sale customers pick out items with base discounts. Then at checkout they spin a raffle wheel to see what percentage of additional savings they win. The inner “high roller” comes out in everyone participating.

Every day is cause for celebration at Churchill. Just as we tell our customers “some occasions call for beer, and others for only champagne!”. With a caring staff whom customers say seem like “good friends” Churchill is a welcoming environment offering red carpet jewelry and fashion, but down to earth service.



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