Wednesday, 20 February 2013 19:00

America's Coolest Stores: Here's What You Say (or Rather, Write)

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This is the "write stuff," baby.

The text portion of the America's Coolest Stores contest entry form seems to stymie a lot of retailers. I get a lot of store owners and employees who tell me they "can't write," and I suspect that lack of confidence is at the root of the problem.

So, one word of advice in general before we move on to specifics (and this will serve you well as you fill out your entry and beyond): The vast majority of people I meet in the jewelry industry are articulate, thoughtful speakers of English, and that most likely includes you. So don't try to write. Instead, try to type what you would say in conversation with a friend. What comes out is guaranteed to be far more clear and less stilted.

For the text portion of the entry, I would advise you to first write your entries in a separate application, such as Microsoft Word, and to save frequently while writing. Computers tend to crash or freeze at the worst times, and if that happens while you're typing into the online entry form, odds are you've just lost all your work. So complete your entry in Word, then copy and paste it into the online form.

Here are some "musts" to include in the first two sections of the text portion:

Who founded the business? Were any other notable family members, like siblings, involved?
What led the founder(s) to open the store? For instance, my great-grandfather was a jewelry maker in Hungary before he immigrated -- that sort of thing is worth noting.
What's the genealogy of the ownership? You don't have to go into detail, but it's nice for us to know which hands it came down through.
Are you in the same location as when your business was founded? Have you moved (and if so, why)? What other locations have you opened (and when, and why)?
Any cool events in your store's history? Another for instance: When the king and queen of Sweden visited Fargo, our family's store made a commemorative medal for them.
Does anyone else in the family work there now? Any successors or potential successors to the current owners yet?

Don't say your employees or your customers. Please. We know -- you think you're just being grateful and gracious and honest. And you are. But you're saying exactly what 99 percent of jewelry retailers say when we ask them a question like this. Sure, we'll think you're nice people -- but we already thought that, and this answer won't distinguish you from the competition.
Do focus on specifics. The other reason "our employees and our customers" is such a boring answer is that it doesn't actually tell us anything about why they're cool. If your bench jeweler wears a peg leg and sings sea chanteys you can hear in the showroom -- OK, then, yes, mention him.
Don't say "our great customer service" either. Again, we want specifics, and the more unusual, the better. Hand-delivering a wedding ring at the last minute is fine. Hand-delivering a ring while dressed as Gandalf the Wizard, to a Lord of the Rings–themed wedding -- now that would be cool.

More on this and the remaining text portions of the entry next time. Meanwhile, please leave questions or concerns in the comments below, or email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Last modified on Monday, 28 December 2015 00:03
Josh Wimmer

Josh WImmer has been a contributor to INSTORE since 2006. He has coordinated the annual America's Coolest Stores contest for several years. The job mostly involves pestering jewelry store owners to start their contest entries, pestering jewelry store owners to finish their contest entries, and figuring out computer problems over the phone from hundreds of miles away.


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