Murphy Jewelers, Hamburg, PA
OWNERS: Patrick Murphy; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2004; BUSINESS FOUNDED: 1913; STORE AREA: 6,700 sq. ft; ADDRESS: 16 Jetson Drive, Hamburg, PA; TARGET CUSTOMER: Adults $40K+ income/year, female self-purchasers; PHONE: (610) 562-2528; URL: murphyjewelers.com; 2004 REVENUES: No yearly results (Fourth quarter 2004 sales — $1 million)
FOR PATRICK MURPHY, the luck of the Irish has meant more than just honing his appreciation for jewelry retail through the generations. When it came to building his dream store, there was a four-leaf clover around every corner — from finding a prime location at the perfect time, to fortuitous financing, interior design and construction, right down to his seemingly endless connections to trade groups, designers and manufacturers. He went a tad over budget, but with two waterfalls, a fireplace and a 30-foot glass atrium that runs along the entire inside of the structure, Murphy Jewelersʼ Hamburg store is truly the treasure at the end of the rainbow.
A Look Inside Murphy Jewelers
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Murphyʼs Jewelers got its start with Patrickʼs grandfather, who began the family business going from school to school by horse and buggy fixing clocks. The original Murphyʼs store opened in 1913 in downtown Pottsville, PA. Murphy began working full-time at the store in 1976 after graduating from Bowmanʼs Technical Jewelry School in Lancaster, PA. His experience at the old German watch repair and design school cemented Murphyʼs commitment to keep the family tradition going for a third generation. He finished school and got married — his wife, Kim, began working full-time for the store in 1978.
The year before Kim entered the business, Murphy had moved the store from the small side of their building to the larger side, and he has been expanding and remodeling ever since. Eventually they took over the entire building, knocking out walls and renovating the exterior according to locally established historical architecture specifications. The second floor of the Pottsville store now serves as Murphyʼs executive offices, conference room and jewelersʼ workshop.
In 1982, Murphy began concentrating his efforts on reinventing the family business by emphasizing expanded repair and custom jewelry services while moving his storeʼs inventory to the high end. His eventual goal was to become a Rolex dealer in his market. The lengthy uphill, upscale battle finally paid off and the Swiss watchmaker made Murphyʼs an authorized Rolex dealer in 1993.
Murphy was ready to build a second store — his dream store. In 2002, he bought a lot directly across from what would soon be a mammoth 240,000 square-feet Cabelaʼs sporting goods store. Cabelaʼs, the self-proclaimed “Worldʼs Foremost Outfitter,” claims to draw six million shoppers a year per store … but in their first year, the Hamburg superstore attracted a whopping 7.5 million visitors. “I knew if I could get 1% of those shoppers in my store, Iʼd keep ahead of the eight-ball,” said Murphy.
The Price of Light
The Cabela mega-storeʼs pastoral appearance served as an initial inspiration for Murphy. “My wife and I wanted a rustic-looking store with a chalet look to it,” Murphy recalls. “We worked hard on the design and showed it to jeweler friends who liked it. But when we showed the design to a local builder, he scrapped our initial concept and developed a totally new one with us in about a week.”
When working with the builder, Murphy knew he wanted an abundance of natural light, so he opted for a 30-foot glass atrium that would extend the length of the store. With that much natural light, Murphy ran the risk of “washing out” his jewelry — which meant his in-store lighting had to be perfect. Murphy called on retail interior design firm GRID/3 International to lend a hand.
“I started with an original quote of $50,000 for lighting,” Murphy recalls. “But GRID/3 convinced us not to cut corners, so we increased our lighting budget up to $180,000.” Biting the bullet, he went with GRID/3ʼs suggested mix of in-case and suspended halogen fixtures.
The most imposing feature of Murphy Jewelers is the storeʼs 30-foot high glass entrance. The enormous store entrance is flanked by two arched windows. The glassed-in front portion of the store runs all the way to the back, creating additional office space (the glass is treated and colored to reduce glare and heat).
Once customers walk through the wood-and-glass interior doors, they are greeted by the storeʼs most stunning interior feature, an 18-foot high waterfall. Murphy and his contactor cleverly opted to double their aquatic interior design feature by creating two waterfalls back to back — one that greets customers in the atrium entrance, and the other inside of the storeʼs main entrance. In the middle of the waterfall is the storeʼs logo with ripples of water cascading over it. Adding to the majesty is a fireplace at the base of the bricked-in waterfall.
Both waterfalls run 24/7, 52 weeks a year, as the entire waterfall system automatically and continuously maintains itself. “The waterfall really sets the tone for peopleʼs reaction to the store,” says Murphy. “Itʼs fun to watch the eyes of customers and people seeing our store for the first time.”
Such spectacular features are offset by understated color schemes from floor to ceiling. The flooring is made of a cream-colored cultured stone that goes from the atrium floor on in to the fireplace hearth. The carpet, a standard mill, is an amalgamation of cream and green, the storeʼs primary colors.
The walls are painted a sage green with flat latex and textured surface throughout the store. Each of the islands in the store has large supports that are wrapped in soft green patterned wallpaper, rising to meet the 30-foot ceiling.
The display cases were built by a friend of Murphyʼs, one of many family, friend or customer connections he tapped in creating his dream store. The cabinets are made of cherry wood and topped with curved glass instead of square cut glass. The storeʼs wall unit countertops and customer service counter areas are granite. The loft office is 1,300 square-feet and overlooks the showroom floor.
Although Murphyʼs dream store came at a hefty price, he bought the land when prices were still cheap. The lot cost him just $450,000. The construction cost and interior design work, however, totaled just over $3.2 million.
But hearing from customers and vendors makes it worth the investment of time and sweat. “We hear many favorable comments from vendors and customers, but the one we like hearing most is that people canʼt believe such a store is in Hamburg and not in New York. People are very proud that we built this store here.”
Family Pitches In
The jewelry business is known to be generational, but Murphyʼs son Sean has already made it clear that heʼs not interested in carrying on the family jewelry tradition — although his younger sister Mallory is considering the possibility. Sean, a junior in college pursuing technology interests, contributed to the family business by producing the storeʼs new website. Visitors to the website can enjoy the latest in web design features such as a roving view of the Hamburg storeʼs interior and exterior while listening to classic tunes like “Come Fly with Me” by Jack Sheldon. Sean also set up the storeʼs LAN network and helped install and maintain Murphyʼs POS software from The EDGE.
Murphyʼs also has three jewelers working on repairs. Murphy is considering doing more custom work as his store is now equipped with a new laser welder. Further down the high-tech food chain are plasma display monitors, which play videos of the storeʼs top designers including names like Hearts On Fire, Roberto Coin, John Hardy, Kwiat, Henderson and Robert Lee Morris.
Something for All
Hamburg is a small Pennsylvania city with a middle- to upper-class community. Being situated directly across from Cabela, Murphy keeps his store open seven days a week to benefit from the overflow of traffic from sports superstore, allowing Murphy to cater to not only his local community but out of towners. “We try to stock something for everyone,” says Murphy.
The new store was a major investment in time and resources for Murphy, who found he couldnʼt be in two places at once to manage his downtown store and the new Hamburg store. So, in Michael Keaton Multiplicity style, he found his twin, store manager Patrick Kelly. When it came time to hire his team for the new store, Murphy interviewed over 100 applicants, which was eventually whittled down to a 22-member staff.
Because many of his new employees are new to the industry, vendors helped with training, and Murphy is contemplating GIA Diamond Grading courses for his staff. He is also considering joining the American Gem Society to take advantage of the Societyʼs sales courses. Murphy is presently on the lookout for a certified gemologist for his store and encourages his staff to attend sales training seminars when they join him at major trade fairs.
Despite its imposing façade, shopping for jewelry at Murphyʼs is anything but daunting. “Our most redeeming quality as a staff is providing outstanding customer service,” Murphy says. “Weʼre always honest and very down-to-earth here.” For itʼs not just luck that Murphy has gained from his Irish heritage, itʼs an appreciation for hospitality. And he has always managed his business according to the old Irish code: “May the roof above us never fall in, and may the friends below it never fall out”.
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