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America's Coolest Stores

INSTORE’s Editors Share Outstanding Aspects of This Year’s Cool Store Entries

Winners will be announced in late August.

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RESULTS OF THE America’s Coolest Stores Contest 2022 will be released very soon. For now, here’s a preview of stores that caught INSTORE editors’ attention during the judging process for their interior design, exterior form and function, marketing and online presence. Final rankings were determined by a panel of industry expert judges. “Big” and “Small” designations are determined by size of the store’s staff. Check out the September issue of INSTORE for final results, stories about our top six winners and a preview of what’s to come with all of our 10 honorable mention winners, which we feature in depth each month between October 2022 and July 2023.

BIG COOL

MS.-Rau interior

interior
1. M.S. RAU, NEW ORLEANS
2. Just Desi, Beverly Hills
3. Richter & Phillips, Cincinnati
4. Hale’s, Greenville, SC
5. Zadok, Houston

M.s. Rau’s 3,500 square foot jewelry gallery is connected to a 40,000 square foot gallery that highlights rare fine art and an antiques collection that includes Napoleon’s desk. Each Italian-made case features sophisticated lighting and locks controlled by an iPad, and staff can make individual lights warmer or brighter as needed to present each jewelry piece in its best light. An oval-shaped glass viewing room sits in the middle of the space. Facing the exterior, two projection screens descend at night to display images and videos of the gallery’s finest pieces and encourage passersby to return the next day. Owner Bill Rau had envisioned the space for nine years before its 2021 debut.


INSTORE’s Editors Share Outstanding Aspects of This Year’s Cool Store Entries

online presence

1. M.S. Rau, New Orleans
2. Richter & Phillips Jewelers, Cincinnati
3. Just Desi, Beverly Hills
4. SPRINGER’S JEWELERS, PORTLAND, ME
5. Zadok, Houston

A devotion to authenticity drives Springer’s robust presence on social media, which helps foster relationships with customers while also attracting the attention of new customers who might not come browsing in the brick-and-mortar store. The message? “We’re real people who wear these pieces in our everyday lives,” says Lily Beaulieu Mullen, who owns the business with Zoe Beaulieu, both representing the fourth generation of family ownership. In 2020, Springer’s also launched a digital wish list campaign, empowering women to create their own lists from the comfort of their own homes. The message? Whether picking out a gift or celebrating themselves with a self-purchase, every woman deserves to get exactly what she wants.

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INSTORE’s Editors Share Outstanding Aspects of This Year’s Cool Store Entries

marketing

1. Just Desi,
Beverly Hills
2. M.S. Rau, New Orleans
3. RICHTER & PHILLIPS, CINCINNATI
4. Craig Husar, Brookfield, WI
5. Hale’s,
Greenville, SC

Rick Fehr and Eric Fehr, third- and fourth-generation owners of family business Richter & Phillips Jewelers, embrace the concept of emotional-connections marketing to establish a loyal, lasting relationship with clients, as well as with influencers (pictured) who were invited to a brunch. This approach has taken events to new heights while also elevating the customer experience with “surprise and delights,” unexpected gestures that make a big difference, such as a custom dinner for two for engagement guests or a bottle of branded bourbon for a Rolex customer. “This person was already your customer, but this surprise delighted them beyond belief and now they are your walking advocate for life — and that is an ROI well worth the investment,” says marketing director Rebecca Schaeper.


INSTORE’s Editors Share Outstanding Aspects of This Year’s Cool Store Entries

Exterior

1. Hale’s, Greenville, SC
2. JUST DESI, BEVERLY HILLS
3. Craig Husar, Brookfield, WI
4. Revolution Jewelry Works, Colorado Springs, CO
5. M.S. Rau, New Orleans

Owners Desi Kraiem and her brother, Justin Kraiem, have ensured their Beverly Hills store stands out from surrounding retailers with its expansive windows, brilliant lighting and chic design. Day or night, an eye-catching video wall offers an invitation to explore the jewelry within.


INSTORE’s Editors Share Outstanding Aspects of This Year’s Cool Store Entries

SMALL COOL

interior

1. ADORNMENT + THEORY, CHICAGO
2. Fiat Lux, San Francisco
3. Anna Zuckerman, Boca Raton
4. Pistachios, Chicago
5. WEND Jewelry, Seattle

Viviana Langhoff describes the second iteration of her brick-and-mortar retail business, Adornment + Theory, as being like “an art gallery that made love to Miami and Morocco.” Details include velvet curtains, hand-painted murals and a plant-filled library corner where customers are invited to relax and read about jewelry history. It’s a stylish and unpretentious space, where pets are as comfortable as their people, and the playlist ranges from Afrobeats, David Bowie and Bad Bunny to Julie London.


INSTORE’s Editors Share Outstanding Aspects of This Year’s Cool Store Entries

online presence

1. Adornment + Theory, Chicago
2. (tie). John Thomas Jewelers, Albuquerque
2. (tie). Jewelry Set in Stone, Chelsea, MI
2. (tie). Karina Brez, Palm Beach
3. John Cauley Jeweler, Mobile, AL
4. Pistachios, Chicago
5. FIAT LUX, SAN FRANCISCO

Marie Mccarthy, owner of two very different locations of Fiat Lux in San Francisco, divided her website/social media presence in two categories, which she labels “pinkies up” or “punk rock.” Her newest store is the “pinkies up” version. “I feel that our marketing is very heartfelt,” McCarthy says. “We communicate what we are thinking about at the moment, and that’s why our clientele is rabid. We are never going for a hard sell.” The team has also leaned heavily into experiential jewelry just when people were emerging from their “hermit caves” from the pandemic, which proved, of course, to be perfect timing. “Welded bracelets are something I have thoroughly enjoyed,” McCarthy says. “It gives me a singular connective moment with people and spreads so much excitement about jewelry.”

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INSTORE’s Editors Share Outstanding Aspects of This Year’s Cool Store Entries

exterior

1. Adornment + Theory, Chicago
2. WEND, SEATTLE
3. Anna Zuckerman, Boca Raton
4. Jewelry Set in Stone, Chelsea, MI
5. Karina Brez,
Palm Beach, FL

Wendy Woldenberg, owner of WEND Jewelry, put her exterior courtyard space to good use beginning in the summer of 2021 by offering low-cost outdoor yoga classes on Saturday mornings followed by muffins and mimosas inside WEND afterwards. They quickly filled each class to maximum capacity and started selling jewelry and booking custom jewelry appointments right away. “People were excited to exercise again, see other humans in person, drink mimosas, and look at jewelry,” Woldenberg says. “This little out-of-the-box idea really helped spread the word about WEND.”


INSTORE’s Editors Share Outstanding Aspects of This Year’s Cool Store Entries

MARKETING

1. Jewelry Set
in Stone, Chelsea, MI
2. WALTON’S, FRANKLIN, TN
3. Pistachios, Chicago
4. Karina Brez, Palm Beach
5. John Thomas Jewelers, Albuquerque

Marketing estate and antique pieces in a way that’s current and exciting isn’t always easy, but owners Julie Walton Garland and her father, Michael Walton, along with the rest of the Walton’s team, are obsessed with the stuff and it shows. Love stories feature real couples talking about the jewelry that launched their engagements. Locals love the QR window decals that allow them to window shop items on display even after the showroom has closed for the night. Online efforts include professional photography, thoughtful blog posts and weekly educational emails, as well as Instagram shopping capabilities.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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Wilkerson Testimonials

Is It Your Time to Enjoy Life? Wilkerson Can Get You There.

Mary and Tim Whalen, owners of Crown Jewelers in Pittsfield, Mass., wanted to enjoy life beyond their business. When they decided to retire and close shop, they asked Wilkerson to handle the sale. As long-time Wilkerson customers, Mary says she knew the company could manage all the details of the liquidation. It was also great to have “fresh eyes” on their business, says Mary, which “worked tremendously for us.” Today, the Whalens are beginning a new adventure but are quick to commend Wilkerson for helping them get there. “You have one chance to get it right,” she says about their retirement sale. “Do it right.”

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