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Cool Store: Sather’s Leading Jewelers

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Colorado store brings the outdoors in.

SATHER’S LEADING JEWELERS

FORT COLLINS, CO

PHONE: (970) 223-0256
URL: www.sathersjewelers.com
OWNERS: Sid Sather (president) and Julie Sather-Browne (vice president)
EMPLOYEES: 19
YEAR FOUNDED: 1910
OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2007
DESIGNERS: Ruth Mellergaard of Grid 3
TOTAL AREA: 4,700 square feet
SLOGAN: “Sather’s Leading Jewelers … A Jewelry Store Like Never Before!”
TOP-SELLING BRANDS: Hearts On Fire, Natalie K, Tacori, Love Story, Claude Thibaudeau

Father and daughter Sid Sather and Julie Sather-Browne, owners of Sather’s Leading Jewelers in Fort Collins, have created a store that brings the Colorado outdoors in; floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides frame picturesque mountains and pine trees, providing customers with a seasonally changing, natural backdrop. After 18 years in a mall location, the Sathers revel in their freestanding building and have managed to capture what they call “the Colorado feeling.” In addition to bringing the outdoors in, however, they’ve also sent part of themselves out. The Sathers have contributed to their community in a variety of ways, many of which have increased their client base and fostered customer loyalty through the generations. — JUDY TRUESDELL

  Five Cool Things About This Store

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An Earthy Look: Colorado Feel

1Fort Collins is nestled against the Rocky Mountains, and Julie Sather-Browne says it is a beautiful community with citizens who are athletic and health-minded. “People here are runners; they enjoy mountain biking, snowshoeing, skiing —we’re within two hours of the major ski areas of Colorado.” Though their 40-year-old building featured some challenges, including a 30-foot vaulted ceiling supported by rock pillars and brown beams, they used the built-in features as a jumping-off place for their décor. The high ceilings give an open feel, and skylights provide natural light. “Imagine Hearts On Fire diamonds exploding with fire from sunlight shooting through a 30-foot wall of solid glass,” Sather-Browne says. “Believe me, it is a sight all diamond lovers must experience.”

From Eyesore To Focal Point: The Diamond Tower

2 A 42-foot clock tower, added 30 years ago to the Sathers’ building in its former incarnation as a bank, was generally viewed as an eyesore. It also blocked the entrance to the store. The Sathers, however, turned it into a plus. A Fort Collins ordinance limits all signs to a height of 6 feet. Since the store is mostly windows, they lacked a good location to hang a noticeable sign. Designer Ruth Mellergaard, in collaboration with a local contractor, turned the tower into the store’s entryway. It’s eye-catching and features the store’s logo with an illuminated diamond on top. The tower creates a vestibule into the store, which is beneficial from both a security standpoint — customers buzz to be admitted — as well as energy conservation. Because it’s considered part of the building, it isn’t in violation of the sign ordinance. Sather coined the term, “The Diamond Tower”; the nickname stuck.

Hospitality: A Celebratory Feeling

3 The store features an intimate, luxurious lounge nook with cognac-colored leather chairs, a fireplace and a big-screen TV. The lounge’s tone is one of warmth, comfort and relaxation. “I thought, boy, if I were nervous looking at rings, I would need to sit down,” Sather-Browne says. “The store is big, but the lounge area is personal.” While customers discuss a purchase or wait for a repair, employees serve wine or beer in appropriate glassware, helping to create what Sather-Browne calls a celebratory feeling. Coffee, bottled water and soft drinks are offered as well. The lounge also features one of the store’s most stunning views. “We watch flaming sunsets over the mountains, the lush mature foliage outside our building, the rainstorms … customers watch the snowflakes falling next to them through the floor-to-ceiling windows.” Visitors to the store have said the view looks more like Vale or Aspen than Fort Collins.

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Positive Interaction: A Logical Layout

4 The store layout encourages continuous, positive staff/customer interaction from the first moment of contact, provides privacy for customer service activities, and makes it impossible for customers to avoid looking at jewelry no matter where they are. With the existing pillars already breaking up straight lines throughout the store, the Sathers created three point-of-sale sites inside “jewelry islands.” Customers linger at the display islands, which are kept squeaky clean and stocked with compelling jewelry, while staff members handle activities such as running credit cards and entering information into the computer in a customer-service area outfitted with nine two-way mirrors. In other stores, Sather-Browne had seen customers herded to bank teller-like windows where the whole experience suddenly became impersonal and where there was no jewelry to see while they waited. “I can’t imagine a worse experience than being told ‘Go to the next window,’ once you have made a purchase,” she says. The arrangement is also less conducive to staff members gathering and talking, making customers entering the store feel they’re interrupting. “It is human nature for people to huddle, especially if they are a team who have social personalities and like each other,” Sather-Browne says. “I want our associates to create a 100 percent fabulous, personable and memorable experience for each customer … from start to finish, just like a true friend would.”

The Whole Picture: Vision of a Community

5 The Sathers have been in the jewelry business for four generations, and the family believes not only in being in the community, but being part of it as well. “Growing up, everything we bought, from grills to washing machines to cars, was bought in our community,” Sather-Browne says. “My father saw the whole picture, the real vision of a community. He knew by shopping local, we were supporting our neighbors and friends. His vision reached beyond the next dollar earned. It is one of the many wise lessons he taught me about loving your customers in a not-so-obvious way. We are heavily involved in the Fort Collins area. These are our customers, people that we consider part of our family.” In addition to supporting numerous charities and community organizations and participating in educational seminars and career days for high schools in Fort Collins and nearby Loveland, Sather-Browne designs and donates crowns for the Larimer County Fair and Rodeo Royalty (queen and lady-in-waiting) every summer. She also provides crowns for all local high school homecomings. “It’s what you do when you’re a responsible business owner,” Sather-Browne says.

  Store Images

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Five Questions With Julie Sather-Browne

1 HOW HAS YOUR FATHER INFLUENCED YOU?

Sales and growth have always been important to him, but his work ethic is so much deeper. I always hear in the back of my head, “Take care of the customer … sometimes it is easier than others, but take care of the customer.”

2 HOW DO YOU SHOW YOUR REGARD FOR EMPLOYEES?

We realized long ago that their personal life is more important. If it’s between us and their personal life, we would never win. We’re very accommodating with scheduling, so when they’re at work they really want to be there.

3 WHY DID YOU LEAVE YOUR MALL LOCATION FOR A FREESTANDING BUILDING?

It wasn’t an ego-motivated decision. Though we’d been successful in the mall, we felt like we could better provide the experience we wanted for our customers in the quiet, tranquil mountain atmosphere.

4 WHAT WAS YOUR NO. 1 GOAL AS YOU DESIGNED YOUR CURRENT LOCATION?

We wanted our clients to experience quality and elegance without feeling intimidated or the necessity to be wealthy to shop with us.

5 WHAT OTHER DESIGN ELEMENTS MAKE YOUR STORE UNIQUE?

We used a material called Lumicor to create textured panels and inserted lighting behind each. Each panel is a different color and texture, and the light shining behind each panel is most dramatic at night.

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Donate To Local Royalty

Get your name out into the community by donating crowns or other jewelry for events such as homecoming, proms or debutante parties. Sather-Browne designs and donates crowns for the Larimer County Fair and Rodeo Royalty every summer. “We go onto the dirt and crown [the royalty],” she says.

 

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