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Modern Mojo in Kansas

A 91-year-old jewelry store stays current with constant innovation.

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Powell Jewelry, Wichita, KS

OWNER: Dan and Lynn Hernandez; URL: powelljewelry.net; FOUNDED: 1932; LAST RENOVATED: 2021; INTERIOR DESIGN: Leslie McGwire & Associates, Clarkitecture, Snodgrass and Sons Construction, JMJ Inc. (showcase manufacturers); TOP BRANDS: Ashi Diamonds, Gabriel & Co., Allison-Kaufman Company, Shah Luxury, Roman & Jules; EMPLOYEES (FULL- AND PART-TIME): 6; ONLINE PRESENCE: 3.8 Stars on Yelp; 4.9 on Google Reviews; 4,300 Facebook followers


JUST BECAUSE POWELL Jewelry is approaching its centennial celebration doesn’t mean it’s set in its ways. In fact, the 91-year-old store in Wichita, KS, demonstrates that the opposite is true. Based on the store’s modern classic interior and super-current shop practices, clients keep returning for both its community heritage and contemporary business practices.

“We get a lot of referrals from customers and focus on satisfying clients,” says Dan Hernandez, who bought the store from the son of the founder in 1997.
Powell’s longevity and name recognition go a long way for multiple generations of extended families. Hernandez recently sold engagement rings to three brothers, with two more planning on buying their rings there, too. “People come in and tell us their parents and grandparents had pieces made at Powell,” confirms Sally Winterman, manager.

This devotion to the brand extends to staffers. One bench jeweler has worked at Powell for three decades, while Winterman has been with the store for 15 years. Two newer employees — at three and four years of tenure — are racking up their periods of service thanks to pleasant store practices like hourly pay and bonuses. Nobody sells on commission. “Everyone wants to help each other,” says Hernandez. “Nobody is pushing products.”

Mattie Mathias, Melissa Waterbury, store owners Lynn and Dan Hernandez, store manager Sally Winterman, DeAnn Groner and Lindsey Dean, from left, have forged a collaborative and cohesive team.

Mattie Mathias, Melissa Waterbury, store owners Lynn and Dan Hernandez, store manager Sally Winterman, DeAnn Groner and Lindsey Dean, from left, have forged a collaborative and cohesive team.

With this sort of warm and supportive environment, it’s not surprising to learn that customers appreciate the love. Old-fashioned empathy from the Powell staff ensures that customers never feel like just a sale. In fact, when one elderly client hadn’t been seen in a while, Hernandez called to check on her and learned she was having dialysis.

“She wasn’t doing well, but she had a positive attitude about recovery,” he says. “And when she felt better, she came in to see us. We don’t only call customers to solicit sales.”

Something else the store is known for is its modern classic interior. While other stores in town have stuck with traditional heavy wood looks, Powell’s 2021 renovation went light, airy, and modern. The refreshed store aimed for timeless elegance with marble floors, white and brushed gold showcases — some oval — and drop-down lighting and clear glass floating chandeliers. There’s also floor-to-ceiling custom wall coverings surrounding a rainwater glass wall with the Powell logo in the center.

“People tell us that it looks like something you’d see in Las Vegas,” Hernandez says.

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Jewelry offerings are equally memorable, including lots of diamond fashion items. A custom department allows shoppers to commission CAD designs and those carved from wax, in addition to vendor-modified designs. “One gentleman wanted a heavy anchor ring, so we used one of our vendors to make it,” Hernandez says.

Powell’s marketing efforts are also modern — moves for which Hernandez praises Winterman. She took on the yeoman’s task of modernizing the store with social media, online sales, and lots of input into the redesign.

Her fresh ideas keep mounting. They include displaying an in-store slideshow of clients and their engagement rings, photographing nearly every engagement ring sold for social media, and installing a permanent jewelry bar dubbed Forever Gold Permanent Jewelry, which has its own Instagram handle at @forevergold_ict, separate from Powell’s main account at @powelljewelrywichita. “We do so much with permanent jewelry that we wanted that feed to look special and appeal to a younger demographic,” she explains.

Permanent jewelry sales to bridal parties, friend groups, mothers and daughters, and individual appointments and walk-ins translate into bigger sales. “I sold a $10,000 engagement ring upgrade to one shopper,” Winterman says. “While she was getting her permanent jewelry, she said how she always wanted a bigger ring, so I said, ‘Let’s look at some!’”

Kansas Jewelry Store Stays Current with Renovation and Innovation

Partnerships with local influencers have also been fruitful. Winterman enlisted two locals with big social media followings to promote various efforts, a tactic that resulted in major media exposure and myriad sales. Other partnerships ensure that local photographers, florists and wedding planners have jewelry for shoots, which gives Winterman plenty of photos for social media and her in-store slideshow. A 70-inch screen near the design center and engagement rings plays a loop of happy clients and their jewelry, proposals and weddings. More promotional efforts include working with a winery next door to supply the store with bottles for events, as well as coaster-coupons for clients to bring in for discounts. On Saturday mornings, customers can have mimosa-fueled engagement ring shopping appointments and leave with champagne glasses imprinted with the store name.

Throughout the year, Powell conducts postcard mailings with discounts for birthdays, anniversaries and the periodic sale, and gives gift cards to clients who drop by to peruse big-ticket items like diamond rings. “People tell us that they just couldn’t shop anywhere else after we gave them a gift card,” Hernandez says.

Charitable efforts, too, are part of the Powell playbook. The store donates merchandise for raffles to help Make a Wish and St. Jude’s charities. For one event, the store donated 250 bracelets: 249 were costume, and one was gold with diamonds. Everyone who purchased a raffle ticket got one; the owner of the precious version was revealed at the end of the evening.

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Finally, no one leaves Powell empty-handed, even if they didn’t make a purchase. Guests get a custom cookie with a seasonal design or Powell Jewelry logo and an oversize diamond solitaire keyring with Powell’s texting number and Instagram handle as keepsakes for visiting. In a month’s time, the store gives out upwards of 20 keychains and six dozen cookies.

“We tell clients they need to leave with a ring, even if it’s a little keyring,” jokes Winterman. “By the time they get to the car, they’ve followed us on social media. Anything we can send home with people is another reminder of what sets our store apart.”

Kansas Jewelry Store Stays Current with Renovation and Innovation

Five Cool Things About Powell Jewelry

1. SOCIAL SUCCESS. Powell Jewelry puts its customers in the social media limelight. Staff photographs nearly every bridal ring it sells to put on social media, along with the couple’s proposal or engagement photos and wedding shots if they choose to share them.

2. OLD SCHOOL CLIENTELING. Tried-and-true clienteling techniques make customers feel special. For example, when clients make a wish list, Powell mails a thank-you note with a gift card to a local coffee shop, and for purchases sends a thank-you note with a gift card to either a coffee shop or a restaurant.

3. CUSTOM CREATIONS. Powell has a custom design center where customers can create their own one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry, view CAD designs, and even see the wax mold of their item before it is made. The Powell team offers a story of the item as it’s being made, including photos of the design and casting process.

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4. LOTS OF HUSTLE. Powell partners with local influencers for promotion, loaning jewelry to photographers, florists, and wedding planners for photography, teaming up with a local winery for in-store events and giving away gift cards to engagement ring buyers for a local picnic company that specializes in engagements.

5. SELECT DIAMONDS. Loose diamonds are all hand selected, many in Antwerp, Belgium, and purchased on regular buying trips with The Independent Jewelers Organization.

PHOTO GALLERY (10 IMAGES)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS
  • ELIZABETH ROSS BREWER: Powell Jewelry does an excellent job including the community in promotional efforts. Having couples share their engagement and wedding photos is a fantastic idea, and their branded swag and generous giveaways are on point. The website is well done, they are rooted in their community, and they donate to local charities and organizations.
  • MEGAN CRABTREE: I’m impressed by Powell. Their idea of hosting a champagne Saturday is a unique way to enhance the customer experience and reflects their commitment to service. Additionally, providing diamond ring keyrings with the store’s Instagram and texting phone number is a fantastic way to promote brand awareness.
  • KATHLEEN CUTLER: I’m impressed by their clienteling. They brought back the charm of direct mail, creating a wish list with them means receiving a thoughtful note and a gift card, and their attention to detail extends to purchases as well. Another standout idea: bridal and anniversary clients are treated to a bottle of champagne and custom champagne flutes.
  • MARIE MCCARTHY: I like the addition of permanent jewelry and services.
  • MEREDITH SEEDS: Dramatic interior with clear spatial hierarchy to encourage intuitive browsing.

 

Try This: Build an In-Store Slide Show

After photographing nearly every bridal ring and client couple for social media, Powell adds the pictures to an in-store slide show of beautiful jewelry and happy couples. “I’m always asking customers for photos to make collages,” says Sally Winterman, manager. “People love to see themselves, and millennials and Generation Z are all about the experience! That’s why they tell their friends about us.”

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