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Ruth Mellergaard: How To Build a Showpiece Showroom




What are the good, bad and ugly things you need to consider before moving or renovating your showroom?

Store design advice for jewelers from Ruth Mellergaard

We discussed the back of the house in the last issue. Now we turn our attention to the heart of the action: the showroom. This area is for customers. Here, you want to be able to wow them, engage them, relax them and compliment them. Sounds like a lot for one area to accomplish, so let’s start with some questions to find out what you really need.

Selling, of course, is the first role of a showroom. But what other features would be on your wish list: a diamond/appraisal/private selling office? A custom-design area? A lounge? A coffee bar? Analyze what you have now and how you could improve it.

Retail is about showing product. Think about incorporating some walk-up wall cases or some walk-around cases. Staff and customer talking side-by-side is friendlier than over-the-case selling. Consider separating diamonds as they require more traditional selling compared to watches, fashion, silver and gold merchandise.

Fortunoff Jewelry’s showcases were updated and reused.


Clarke Jewelers has a walk-around case and small lounge.

What about a play table for customers to touch and try on jewelry without a salesperson? Locate it close to the checkout so that you can answer questions.

Work stations for staff members get them away from the cash-desk and give them space to make calls, write notes and perform all those clientelling tasks that are so important today.

What about vendor shops inside your showroom? A word in your rep’s ear can start this ball rolling. Just be sure that other stores in your neighborhood do not carry this merchandise before pitching your exciting new space as an alternate location.

The location of the checkout and repair counter must also be weighed. Consider one centralized cash desk and an additional one or two on the floor for busy times. It is vitally important that you plan for growth. People have less time today and hate waiting.


What about a private area for VIP customers? Whatever your decision, make sure it is visually open to eliminate the customer fear of being trapped (but consider some blinds to provide discretion for those who wish it).

Design your store so it reflects your part of the country — regionalism is a big deal now. Generic “good design” doesn’t cut it.

With your budget, take a rifle rather than a shotgun approach. Resolve to spend money on a few things and look at what else can be reused or refurbished. A few truly luxurious items in a space contribute greatly to the ambience.

Finally, to ensure that both your jewelry and clients look good, hire a lighting designer who understands how to bring out the sparkle and true color in diamonds.

Ruth Mellergaard, CID, FIIDA is a principal of GRID/3 International, an interior design firm based in New York City. Learn more about its services at

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 edition of INSTORE.




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