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Rethinking the Store: Clodius & Co.: Month 2: Inside Scoop



Store owners Mark and Monika Clodius plan the interior layout in their ongoing redesign project. Ralf Kircher checks in.

This is part two of a special series on the $500,000 redesign of Clodius & Co. in Rockford, IL. INSTORE will be checking on progress monthly with store owners Mark and Monika Clodius.

STORE OWNERS MARK AND MONIKA CLODIUS have been spending a lot of their time recently thinking inside the box.  
The husband-and-wife owners of Clodius & Co. are in the middle of planning a major remodel of their Rockford, IL, store.  
Their plans are to double the size of their 2,000-square-foot showroom, create a new backroom area and offices, bring architectural interest to their current concrete box exterior and re-landscape their parking area all by mid-September.  
INSTORE, which first reported on their project in March, will be there with them, providing updates on their $500,000 project along the way. 
In the past weeks, they have set aside their exterior architectural choices to hash out what’s going inside the box that’s currently drawn on paper. 
What’s been more important is to determine the actual layout, Mark says.The outside is not driving the inside. The functional quality has to be met inside, but the look of the outside can be changed. 
If they are going to meet their mid-September completion date, they have to order showcases and display elements soon. Moreover, where they place support columns will impact their contractor’s order for structural steel. Delays in placing their order will run into longer fabrication times as the building season begins to heat up. 
To ensure they’re thinking through everything properly, Mark and Monika turned to merchandising consultant Denny Ballard, who owns Merchandising Concepts and Solutions in Springfield, MO. 
It’s a lot more involved than: I’m going to put a case here, Ballard says. You want to create an environment that’s pleasing and that has a flow to it that forces people to see the whole store. 
We had a good idea of what we wanted to accomplish, Monika says.  
The Clodiuses had put down four rough schemes on paper, and in three days of face-to-face consultation, Ballard was able to put his finger on one of them and say,That’s what you want to do. 
Ballard, who will conduct at least two more on-site visits during the project, says planning an interior layout is more involved than most think, but it can be broken down into steps: 
“You come up with the footprint first. Then you determine the things you put in it offices, do you have a diamond room, linear showcase space. How big is it? Where are the doors?”
Then it’s a matter of where to put the merchandise. Ballard says his 32 years on the road as a diamond salesman and further experience running a store taught him to know what shoppers will ask for and what they want to find on their own. 
“You can pretty much hide pearls, he says.When people come in looking for pearls, they’ll ask where they are. “

But do that with something like diamond earrings, and you might as well keep them in your vault.Diamond earrings, they won’t ask. 
Ballard says because today is bridal, bridal, bridal, beginning a store layout starts with where the bridal jewelry goes. After that, it’s where do I place the rest of the showcases?
With a smaller a store, the owner is forced to consider how many lines to carry and how much of them. Sometimes people will open a new store, and they’re out of space already. 
That’s the case with Clodius & Co., where business has been growing since it moved to its current space in 2003. 
In Mark and Monika’s case, they’re trying to put 100 pounds of stuff in a 50-pound bag. 
How they place that stuff, Ballard says, can be as critical as the expansion project itself. 
If you build it, they will come’ doesn’t always hold true, he says.If you build it, they may come. And what’s important when they do come, he says, is that the store meets the customer’s needs. 
I’ve seen people who do it very well, and I’ve seen people really screw it up, he says.  
He tells a story of one client who insisted on placing the cash register at the front of the store, simply because that’s where it had always been. That same client, after a few months of living with it, is now moving the cash register to the rear. 
The theme today is not higher and deeper, he says of product placement.  
You’re trying to feature the merchandise as much as possible. 
Mark and Monika will be featuring that merchandise in showcases made locally to match or complement their existing casework. Later, they will meet up with Ballard in Las Vegas to choose display elements. 
The next immediate step for Mark and Monika is the local permit-review process and then for Monika creating thestoryboard of interior colors, textiles and finishes. Mark, meanwhile, will be working on designing a lighting scheme. 
This has been a lot of work, Mark says of the project so far,and time is of the essence. 
So far, Mark and Monika have gotten all their ducks in a row, getting financing, a contractor, an architect and expert advice. Even with doing everything right, however, there are always the unexpected twists. Their bump in the road came in the form of a sidewalk. 
While investigating the permitting process, the Clodiuses found that a local ordinance requires them to build a sidewalk on their dime or $5,000 to $6,000 as the case will prove to be in the end. 
It’s money, but it’s not enough to break the bank, Mark says. A percent here and a percent there, and it adds up, though.

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