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In this month’s episode of “Secrets of America’s Coolest Stores”, we’re excited to present you with one of the most unique success stories in recent jewelry retail history — that of Jim Tuttle and his Seattle super-store, Green Lake Jewelry Works.

After dropping out of college and spending several years as a supermarket produce buyer, Tuttle eventually found his way into the jewelry business in Atlanta in his mid-20s — through a cousin of his who was doing trade work, mostly for jewelry chain stores. 

Podcast Episode S1E2: Jim Tuttle (44:03 minutes)


As Tuttle slaved away at trade work in the late 80s and early 90s, he dreamed of opening his own store with a focus on custom design, one where the “theater” of jewelry artists at work would attract passersby and customers. 

Finally, in 1996, with only $30,000 in his pocket, he moved to Seattle and opened up a business called Green Lake Jewelry Works. 

From that small investment, Tuttle has created one of the country’s most innovative and successful jewelry businesses — with two Green Lake branches in the Seattle area (both of which have won high honors in INSTORE’s “America’s Coolest Stores” contest) and more than $10 million in sales annually.

Tuttle’s stores have created their own noteworthy niche as a business that puts custom design first in every single aspect of the customer experience. Since the store’s launch, Green Lake has grown at near-double figure percentage rates every year — even during the Great Recession. Tuttle attributes a lot of the store’s success to his talented team — “this was very much a team effort,” he emphasizes.

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But another key to the Green Lake success story is Tuttle’s propensity for “geeking out” — intense bursts of enthusiasm and extra work new technologies like (over the years) CAD modeling, laser welding, and online jewelry design portfolios. In addition, Tuttle’s expertise in crunching numbers has also helped him make correct business decisions on when to expand (and when to not expand) along the way.

Listen to Tuttle tell his story — with all the ups and downs — in this 45-minute interview with INSTORE’s David Squires.

Plus, we’ve added an additional seven minutes of bonus material in which Jim shares the specific area where he thinks his business differs from most other jewelry retailers, where he sees the jewelry business going over the next decade, and one product category he’d pay a little more attention to if he had the chance to do the whole thing over again.

JIM TUTTLE BONUS MATERIAL (7:00 minutes)


David Squires is the Group Editorial Director of SmartWork Media. He believes that the first role of business media is to inspire readers.

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Secrets of America's Coolest Stores

Podcast: Debbie Fox on the Power of Social Cause Marketing and the Rise of Fox Fine Jewelers

She discusses key high and low points in her journey.

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WELCOME! YOU’RE INVITED to listen to the debut episode of a new INSTORE Live! podcast series, Secrets of America’s Coolest Jewelers.

The series kicks off with an interview of one of INSTORE’s favorite jewelers, Debbie Fox of Fox Fine Jewelers in Ventura, CA, winner of 2015’s America’s Coolest Stores (Big Cool category). David Squires, former INSTORE editor-in-chief and group editorial director of SmartWork Media, does the interviewing.

In the podcast, Debbie discusses key high and low points of the journey she has taken with her husband George, a highly talented jeweler, as they built their business from a 100-square-foot store barely large enough to fit two customers at a time into one of the country’s very best jewelry stores.

“I never thought that I’d be this successful,” Debbie admits. “[But] I will tell you that George always knew that we would be this successful.”

Debbie also gives insights into Fox Fine Jewelry’s unique social-cause marketing initiatives. One of the most successful examples of these came in 2009, when the store gained national attention for giving away sterling silver necklaces one Valentine’s Day season to people who had lost their jobs in the Great Recession.

In a special addendum to the interview, Debbie talks about possibly her business’s biggest-ever social cause marketing initiative, where Fox Fine Jewelry provided free community-themed diamond necklaces to people who had lost their homes during California’s devastating Thomas Fires in December.

Debbie tells of some of the dramatic events around the fire, including customer reaction to her emotional radio advertising, and tells one funny story of the fire’s aftermath when she found herself sobbing in front of the destroyed house of an acquaintence.

 

Community-themed necklaces on offer from Fox Fine Jewelry include the Ventura Wave, the Ojai Mountains, the Montecito Islands, or the Thrive 805. COURTESY: FOX FINE JEWELRY


SECRETS OF AMERICA’S COOLEST STORES EPISODE 1: DEBBIE FOX (69:52 MINUTES)


SECRETS OF AMERICA’S COOLEST STORES EPISODE 1 EXTRAS: DEBBIE FOX ON THE THOMAS FIRE (19:56 MINUTES)


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