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The Art of Surprise

This Georgia jeweler loves to challenge expectations.

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Worthmore Jewelers, Atlanta, GA

OWNER: Harris and Geri Botnick, Joan Wasser and Peggy Rainbow ; FOUNDED: 1994; URL: worthmorejewelers.com; FULL-TIME EMPLOYEES: 9; PART-TIME EMPLOYEES: 9; AREA: 2,500 square feet; TOP BRANDS: Gabriel & Co, S&R, Jordan Scott, Ball Watch, Zina, Fredric Duclos, Catherine Ryder, Toby Pomeroy, Makur, Teno; OPENED FEATURE LOCATION:1994; LAST RENOVATED:2008; LOCATIONS: 2; BUILDOUT COST:Less than $10,000; FACEBOOK LIKES: 773; YELP STARS: 4.5; ALEXA TRAFFIC RANK: 11,995,223


WALK THROUGH WORTHMORE’S front door and it’s hard to predict what you might experience on any given day:

An overly friendly boxer running toward you in greeting? Most likely.

An art gallery on the walls? Definitely.

A dancing staff? If the mood strikes.

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A model wearing body paint? If it’s a special occasion.

Customers drinking rum punch? Whenever there’s something to celebrate.

In 2008, Worthmore Jewelers opened its second store in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta, in a space that was formerly an art gallery.

“We were getting ready to do the buildout,” owner Harris Botnick recalls, “and six or seven people knocked on the door, saying ‘Are you going to open a new gallery?’”

It made him think, why not? “Walls don’t sell jewelry,” Botnick says, “And having fine art is a great avenue to introduce the store to people who might not otherwise come into a jewelry store. It’s also something new to offer jewelry customers.”

So not only did Worthmore incorporate fine art into its new location, but the Botnicks also decided to remodel their original store to accommodate gallery space. “I saw the positive reaction customers were having in the Decatur store, and even though we had no budget for it and it had been the furthest thing from my mind, we came in and revamped the original store so we could hang art.”

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They opened up the drop ceiling, creating a clean slate to display art. They also decided at that time to incorporate new raw-metal showcases with wood inlays that were crafted by a furniture builder. Periodically, they also re-paint the stained concrete floor. None of the remodeling efforts have been very expensive or extensive, but all have created a positive vibe, Botnick says.

“It wasn’t a major remodel, but it was a really, really fresh facelift,” Botnick says of the latest effort. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money to do that. We have changed colors and changed the floor several times. You can do these little things really reasonably, so that customers know you are changing and growing.” Above all, avoid shabby or drab: “You want people to know that yes, if you are dropping off your $20,000 ring to work on, you are in the right place.”

Showing new art every few months puts a fresh face on the space, as well, while also creating the perfect opportunity for an in-store art opening or related event.

When it comes to hiring, jewelry experience is not high on Botnick’s list.

“If somebody has it, it’s great. We’ll certainly consider it,” Botnick says. “We can teach jewelry knowledge, but we can’t teach people how to be nice, or how to be passionate about the store. If they are customers, we know they are passionate about the store.”

When they aren’t hiring passionate customers, they advertise for employees with wording that looks and reads like a personal ad. They say they are a “fun group” looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right, want a long-term commitment; not a casual relationship. The ad stresses attributes like punctuality and open-mindedness. “Tattoos and piercings are accepted, heck, even encouraged,” Botnick says.

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Last time they advertised in this manner — via an e-mail blast to the customer list — Botnick received 50 decent resumes within 30 minutes.

The staff tends to have a lot of outside passions as well. Right now, there are a couple of drummers on staff, three singers, a sax player and a guitar player.

“It’s a pretty musical crowd right now. We need to form a Worthmore band,” he says.

It’s not uncommon to see people break out in dance in the store.

PHOTO GALLERY (11 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About Worthmore Jewelers

1. TRAINING. “We throw them into the fire,” Botnick says. He offers outside training, including GIA courses. But in-store, newbies shadow experienced employees as they learn. “Everyone plays an important role in doing everything,” Botnick says. “Salespeople also place orders, track down items; everyone has to be very well rounded.”

2. PROFIT SHARE. Worthmore uses a pooled commission plan; all the sales are pooled together because everyone has a lot of other responsibilities that take them off the floor. “It builds a team atmosphere, so the customer feels like they are No. 1,” Botnick says.

3. FRESH EVENTS. “Bottom line, we like the Worthmore experience to be exciting, different and memorable,” Botnick says. On one occasion, a charity car show outside tied into a car-themed art show inside. “Another event featured one of our favorite artists, Ocean Clark, painting a model’s body in our front window to kick off a local art festival. We even had an art opening where all the paintings were done in wine, in conjunction with the Decatur Wine Festival.”

4. ONLINE PLANS. Botnick plans to introduce a four to six-month revolving inventory for the website. That represents a departure to how he merchandises in the store, but one he believes is necessary to growing an online business. “Our challenge is that we are not of the philosophy that as soon as we sell a pair of diamond sapphire earrings, we are going to reorder them. In general, we want to find things that are constantly different.”

5. MERCHANDISE MIX. The philosophy here is to cover all the bases with a wide range of price points and products. Worthmore has been big into silver from the beginning, has a good estate and watch business, and likes cutting-edge fashion: rose gold, black diamonds, alternative metals, etc. In the bridal category, the store is known for its custom and a huge selection of bands.

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