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Molina Fine Jewelers

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Molina Fine Jewelers, Phoenix, AZ

OWNERS: Molina Fine Jewelers; ADDRESS: 33134 East Camelback Road Phoenix, AZ 85016; PHONE: (602) 955-2055


FOUNTAINS, GARDENS, chandeliers, a copper dome — even a few Rembrandts. Perhaps this is de rigéur in Paris, but in Phoenix, Arizona, such features make Alfred Molinaʼs super high-end jewelry store a genuine landmark — a little piece of the Old World in the New West.

how did you select your storeʼs location?

We wanted a freestanding store that positioned us as a high-end, appointment-only jeweler to Phoenixʼs wealthier clientele. So, being located on the prime stretch of Camelback Road, from 24th Street to 32nd Street, was very important. This is Phoenixʼs answer to Rodeo Drive.

Whatʼs it like inside?

The entire 8,000-sq.-ft. structure is divided into three main areas. The first is the salon, where salespeople meet with clients in private rooms. People warned me that having private offices to sell jewelry wasnʼt the best use of space, but itʼs consistent with the jewelry shopping experience we want to offer customers — a comfortable and private experience like buying jewelry at someoneʼs home. The boutique is open to walk-in shoppers, has its own entrance and is located on the main floor and the second story. Finally, in the basement, we have a 1,700-sq.-ft. design studio, where 15 to 20 bench jewelers do custom work and repairs. The store is richly decorated with original 19th-century artwork, antique furniture and fixtures, each with its own unique story.

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Tell us about the renovation process.

Our store was formerly a savings-and-loan bank. It was perfect in that it had a walk-in vault, but the structure itself needed a lot of work with drop ceilings and a drive thru window that had to go. In 1993 we set out to create an Old World look for the storeʼs exterior. The goal was to give the appearance that weʼve been around for 100 years, so we combined stucco with hand-carved stone. The parking lot was leveled in 1994 and we put in many lavish touches such as a fountain, a façade, planters and flowers. The total amount spent on that project was around $300,000. The most aggressive renovation project was the $4million, three-level expansion to create the boutique, a design concept based on a toy model I purchased in Paris. When the boutique was finished in 1998, the crowning achievement was a copper dome. Yes, itʼs real copper.

How much did it cost to adapt the building?

Was it worth it? I donʼt like to think about it, really. Itʼs only money and you canʼt take it with you when you go. Seriously, if I was to estimate from the time we purchased the property and the structure in 1992, and the projects leading up to and including the boutique expansion project in 1998, it would be around be $5 million. But weʼve accomplished what we set out to do, create a store that shows customers we value their worth.

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Who did the design for you?

How closely did you work with them? Wolfgang Klein was my Austrian architect. I worked very closely with him but coming from Europe himself, he was very aware of the Old World elegance I was looking for. I was onsite at seven oʼclock every morning, at lunch time and at the end of the day. Arizona builders are not accustomed to dealing with my demands of perfection in every aspect of the building … to offset these challenges I often had meals catered for them to keep them happy.

How do people usually react?

Normally they are pleasantly shocked. They donʼt expect to see this type of elegance in Phoenix. Nor the “service experience” that we give. There isnʼt another store like this in the country and they are pleased to feel like theyʼve been transported to somewhere in Europe.

What is your storeʼs most unique feature?

Itʼs difficult to settle on a single feature, but the chandelier is something many customers talk about when they see our store for the fist time. Itʼs a Versailles Period chandelier that was converted from a candle light fixture to a more modern lighting fixture with electricity. Itʼs huge, weighing about 2,000 pounds.

What do you like most and least about the store?

I like everything about the store and if I donʼt like it I change it. The only thing I donʼt like (even though itʼs outside the store) is that there is a shopping plaza behind our building and parking area. The one thing that is not tangible that I love about the store is the overall feeling. It is a metaphysical experience. I believe that by changing the surroundings you change peopleʼs attitude. When you walk into the store you feel like youʼve walked into someoneʼs home. The ambience and décor of Molina helps us succeed because it makes our customers feel important.

PHOTO GALLERY (5 Images)

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