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America's Coolest Stores

ACS 2010: Third Place Big Cool, Lily & Co.



Karen Bell, a Realtor, and Dan Schuyler, a jeweler, had been friends for years when he read in a local newspaper that she had made a big sale. He called her to try to sell her a $32,000 watch. She turned him down, but did buy diamond-stud earrings. Over coffee, she asked him the casual question that changed both their lives: “Have you ever thought about owning your own jewelry store?” According to Bell, Schuyler said, “It’s every jeweler’s dream,” although Schuyler says he doesn’t remember saying that — exactly.

Quick Facts

LILY & CO., Sanibel, FL

URL:  |  Owners: Karen Bell and Dan Schuyler  |  Founded: 2006  |  Interior: Baker Store Equipment  |  Area: 3,000 square feet  |  Employees: 6  |  Top Brands: Alexis Barbeau, John Bagley, James Breski, Donna Chambers, Martin Flyer, Gurhan, Charles Krypell, Nanis, Precision Set, Rosato, Uneek, Denny Wong

Five Cool Things About This Store

The Unlikely Partnership

1Bell found a building, they bought it, and, voila!, in 2006, they became jewelry-store owners. Well known in the community, Bell brought in customers, while Schuyler kept them coming back with his jewelry expertise and relationship-building skills. Still, it was a huge risk. For one thing, the business was off the main tourist street, making it a destination store from the start, before it had any kind of reputation. “We went with our hearts,” Karen says, “and had a lot of sleepless nights at the beginning.”


The Brand: Lily the Celeb

2The store is named for Bell’s dog, Lily the labradoodle, star of billboards, ads and promotions. Last year, 130 dogs and their owners attended her birthday party, which raised $8,000 for a no-kill animal shelter. While Lily is the face of the company, Dan’s yellow Labrador retrievers, Gracie and Angel, comprise the “& Co.” part of the store name and act as greeters. Schuyler gives away Lily & Co. dog bowls and leashes. Even packaging reinforces the canine connection: Paw prints trail across tissue-paper wrap and ribbons. “I never thought I’d be holding a dog party at a jewelry store,” Dan says. “But Lily became our brand.”

Positive Energy

3Bell has friends with feng shui inclinations, so the interior is designed to create positive energy. Three coins under the front porch rug are believed to bring prosperity. Buddha and frog figurines are placed strategically in the cases, and the space was blessed by feng shui practitioners. In addition, an Eastern Orthodox priest asked if he could bless the store. So far, the energy and prosperity have been superlative, Bell reports.

The History

4In 1999, the building was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1915 as a Baptist church, it became best known as a school for African-American children. Other incarnations included time as an art gallery, a bank and as a podiatrist’s office. The building sits at an angle on the property from a time when hurricane-driven floodwaters lifted and relocated it.

The Space

5Lily & Co. has added about 1,700 square feet to the original 1,200 square feet. They did it by converting storage to selling floor and adding a wing where the bank’s drive-through window had been. They removed green and black institutional marble, and, of course, kept the bank vault.


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          TRUE TALE

It’s Not in my Job Description

Two years ago, Kim DeVito joined Lily & Co. as store manager. DeVito, however, was a cat person, and in for a canine culture shock. When Schuyler adopted a 6-week-old puppy named Angel, DeVito couldn’t believe a third dog would be lounging underfoot in a fine jewelry store. One day, when DeVito was wearing open-toed shoes, Angel piddled on her feet, right in front of a customer. Kim has since become a convert. “I love those dogs now,” she says. “Angel melts my heart.” Another thing not in her job description: dressing up as the Easter Bunny for an Easter egg hunt in the store. But, she does it for the kids, who also melt her heart.



A Scrapbook of Lilies

Lily & Co. receives thank-you letters every week. Often, customers write about meeting Lily and how they have been inspired to name a child or a pet in the labradoodle’s honor. The most unusual ‘Lily’ so far? An albino deer, whose photo is proudly displayed in Lily & Co.’s scrapbook.

          TRY THIS

Record Your Thoughts

Dan Schuyler keeps a digital recorder near his bed, in case he wakes up in the night with a great marketing idea. He also keeps one in his car.

What the Judges Said

Candy Udell: The one thing that stands out immediately is how the exterior design of the store so accurately reflects the unique climate and tradition of Sanibel. You could pass the store and feel like it has been there for many years. On the inside, that same tropical vibe has been extended in the layout — high ceilings, finishes and artwork all speak to the local community. The artistic quotient has been extended to include the unique lighting fixtures. All your senses are tuned to the tropics in all aspects of the store design.

Jean Philippe Meunier: The interiors are simple, in white and light woods, well-lit and elegant. Original art lines the walls and shares the spaces with fine jewelry and gift items. In all, the store captures the relaxed lifestyle of the island.

Wendy Furrer: Lily & Co.’s interior is open and airy, with a lot of great light. The store is inviting, with beautiful flowers and trees welcoming you into a home away from home.

Gurhan: Lily & Co looks like a beautiful island jewelry oasis. The combination of the tranquility of Sanibel Island and the airy, lightness of the historic house, make Lily & Co seem more like a vacation getaway than a jewelry store.

Bess Anderson: Not your average looking jewelry store location. The exterior resembles a charming cottage that says, “Welcome, friend, … please come in.” The open, airy porch-like feel is home to not just the main category of jewelry, but also to a home of rotating art galleries from local artists, philanthropy functions, or just a place to visit and be greeted by a puppy or two! It’s definitely not stuffy, but warm and inviting and a unique place to purchase a one-of-a-kind gift.

This story is from the August 2010 edition of INSTORE

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