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Finalist-ACS 2003 - Town and Country

Bayside comfort, luxury and style.

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Town and Country, Way Bellingham, WA

OWNER: Gary and Sallie Deitz; DESIGNERS: Carlson Architects of Seattle; PROJECT COST: $80,000; ADDRESS: 8 Bellwether Way Bellingham, WA 98225; PHONE: (650) 650-0575; DESIGN ADVICE: “Buy that extra gallon of paint that you think you wonʼt need.”


THE BELLWETHER HOTEL is an intimate boutique hotel overlooking the deep blue waters of Bellingham Bay in Washington state. Jewelers Sally and Gary Deitz were operating out of a successful but imperfect store that shared a wall with a noisy bakery.

Continental DiamondWhen the Deitzes happened to check out the ongoing development of the Bellwether, they realized that the free-standing store designed as part of the resort by the Bellwetherʼs owner, Peter Paulson was perfect for them. The location, with its view of the Puget Sound, the San Juan islands, and even a lighthouse, is the epitome of romance, and with a hotel offering world-class cuisine and superb reception facilities right there on site — well, what more could a jeweler hope for?

Shortly before their move, the events of September 11th unfolded, and Gary and Sally knew theyʼd be making a major gamble as the economy became even less stable, with consumers spending less, and the dark cloud of war looming on the horizon. Plus, the new store was well off the beaten consumer track. But they kept faith in their decision, feeling fate had played a hand in bringing them here — and they went ahead.

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The design of Town and Country Jewelers lives up to its stunning location. The free-standing structure is designed with its nautical location in mind, with a sweeping sail-like roof, and a row of mooring posts and an abundance of trailing flowers outside the entrance. The mahogany cases are detailed with brass inlay, the carpet is olive green with a burgundy leaf and vine motif, and the ceiling is painted pistachio, a color theme which continues onto the counter. Three of the walls are of glass, letting in a huge amount of natural bayside light, and the final wall is of brushed aluminum shingle.

Continental Diamond interior
Gary and Sallie believe the romance of their location is one its biggest advantages. Sallie tells of a couple who came into the store with what she calls “that glow known only to jewelers.” She asked the couple if they were guests at the hotel, and the woman replied, “We were sitting out by the waterfront and he just proposed. We looked over, and found your jewelry store” — and Sallie went on to find the lovestruck pair the perfect engagement ring.

Of the judges, Fred rated Town and Country the most highly of all, selecting it as his favorite store amongst the finalists “Yes!” he exclaims approvingly. “Those padded benches make me want to sit down and look at the jewelry in every one of those cases — all jewelry stores should be like this!” Debbie agrees, saying, “I like the comfy ottomans so you can relax while you browse.” She goes on, “The layout — which is very inviting and comfortable — takes advantage of the setting, no artwork needed and lots of natural light.” Penny also commends the “very unusual design – simple and elegant.” Brett and RoxAnna rate Town and Country down a little, though RoxAnna concedes, “The swooping curved roofline is bold and attention-getting, and flowers always woo customers.”

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The store was a landmark in Topeka, Kansas, but after 80 years in business, it was time for Briman’s Leading Jewelers to close up shop. Third generation jeweler and owner Rob Briman says the decision wasn’t easy, but the sale that followed was — all thanks to Wilkerson. Briman had decided a year prior to the summer 2020 sale that he wanted to retire. With a pandemic in full force, he had plenty of questions and concerns. “We had no real way to know if we were going to be successful or have a failure on our hands,” says Briman. “We didn’t know what to expect.” But with Wilkerson in charge, the experience was “fantastic” and now there’s plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying a more secure retirement. “I would recommend Wilkerson to any retailer considering a going-out-of-business sale,” says Briman. “They’ll help you reach your financial goal. Our experience was a tremendous success.”

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