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Cool Store: Harris Jeweler

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Harris Jewelers: A family-owned business for nearly 60 years

Harris Jewelers

Harris Jeweler

Address: 2343 West Main Street, Troy, OH 45373
Phone: (937) 335-0055


For most multi-store jewelers, a decision to cut down their number of branches would be a sign of impending trouble. But not for Harris Jewelers, a family-owned business for nearly 60 years. In 1999, Mark and Linda Harris decided to close their three jewelry stores and create one large store.

The store was staffed with the couple’s top salespeople — for better service, and higher sales. But the store closings weren’t about consolidation. In fact, the couple were thinking bigger than ever — with their new flagship store being part of a larger business plan to build a small shopping plaza with Harris Jewelers as its “anchor store”. When the store opened in September 2001, the couple achieved their dream — a warm and friendly retail environment that makes customers feel like family.

STORE INTERVIEW

What are the most unique features of the store?

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The fireplace wall is a focal point with a high barrel ceiling above. It’s a self-venting gas fireplace with a stationary glass panel for safety. Above the mantle are photos of the original Harris Jewelers store and of Mark’s parents, who founded the store in 1946.

Comfortable chairs are in front of the fireplace for those who would prefer to relax, have a cup of coffee or browse through books on jewelry and style. Another unique feature to the store is the 16’ x 16’ x 4’ domed ceiling above the center island, with a hand-painted night sky that was done by a local artist.

Beneath it is a custom-designed openwork globe made from copper; hand-made locally by a local tinsmith whose primary business is colonial light fixtures and accessories. Customer amenities include a children’s room with toys and a TV to view classic children’s videos. Next to this room is the “Harris Café” which offers coffee, cappuccino, bottled water, and more. The staff’s family photos are shown in this area.

Harris Jeweler’s Design Studio is an integral part of our business. The shop is visible to our clients through a large glass window. This gives our clients a sense of security.

Describe the interior of the store.

Our challenge was to create a very large (4,000 square-foot) store that conveys quality, but was not so upscale that it would be intimidating. Our tagline, “The World of Diamonds and Gems”, led to the use of natural materials and warm subdued colors. Our wall coverings evoke the feeling of sand and water, and the beige colored carpet resembles drifting sand.

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There’s lots of natural slate tile with an artisan, variegated finish. It flows from the exterior store facade, into the vestibule on the walls and floor and continues into the store. Another touch of warmth comes from the custom-designed showcases made of solid and veneered cherry woods. 

Who did your?design?

Ruth Mellergaard of Grid/3 International. We both worked closely with her throughout the process. To start, Mark combined his 28 years of experience in  retail jewelry with ideas gleaned from other retailers and stores, and compiled a master “wish list” (e.g. repair shop/design studio, diamond presentation room), plus function and flow of the store, customer appeal and comfort, and atmosphere.

How much did it cost?

The cost of the land and building the 11,000 square-foot shopping plaza  (an eight-month construction project) was about $1.7 million. The jewelry store itself cost about $320,000.

Do you think the appearance of the store helps sales?

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In our first year, sales were up 40 percent and in our second fiscal year, which ended in September, sales were up 30 percent. The store design is just one aspect of our success. Our excellent staff creates the Harris Jeweler shopping experience.

What do you like most about the store?

All the departments come together seamlessly in the store’s overall design. Topping the list of functional features are the three workstations shared by the staff that are equipped with computers, phones and other sales tools.

Our Design Studio is an important part of our business and our store design. Also, our display cases are higher than normal — making it easy for customers to look at our jewelry and for our employees to show merchandise and write up job envelopes.

The cases have custom-sized slots and cubbyholes to keep counter pads, calculators, job envelopes and repair pricing books within arm’s reach. Another important feature is having the Diamond Presentation Room and the offices set off, but not set apart from the rest of the store. We did this with mainly glass partitions.

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This story is from the December 2003 edition of INSTORE

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