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Commentary: The Business

Jim Rosenheim: What It Means to be the ‘Coolest’

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From the ups and downs of entering to knowing how you stack up to peers

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 edition of INSTORE.

In writing this article, I come from the position of having been both a contestant and a judge in the America’s Coolest Stores Contest. As a contestant, I know the daunting task of producing all of the information required in the application process. As a judge, I know the time it takes to review the applications of many very worthy applicants and exercise personal judgment in assessing the vast amount of information presented, knowing the effort it has taken and the potential consequences of the result.

That said, let me tell you that winning this has been one of the most exciting and meaningful moments of my five-decade career in this wonderful industry. My involvement in this process was very gradual. First, I ignored it as something I didn’t want to pursue. A year or two later, we started to begin the process but stopped halfway through due to the work it required. Finally, a couple of years ago, we committed to going through this process. It involved the work of a number of people gathering and organizing information, marketing materials, etc, etc.


“The marketing value of this is hard to measure. It has become part of our print and online strategy, and it has worked. We reprinted the article and put it in every gift bag we delivered. Our clients were amazed and elated for us.”


When I finally submitted all required materials, I thought we might actually win this contest. But that feeling soon disappeared and I was left with the realization that, I might lose! This really hit me hard. I’ve spent my career evolving this business from a 100-square-foot antique jewelry boutique to what it is today. I was committed, and just had to wait it out and sit with my anxieties. When the call finally came, I can’t possibly describe the joint feelings of relief and excitement.

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It’s humbling to see that a panel of industry icons has judged you No. 1. The public acknowledgement and all the ensuing perks were amazing. The joy that my family experienced was indescribable. The pride that it gave my staff was such a boost. All of them have worked so hard during the trying economy of the past several years. It was uplifting for them to know that they have been a significant part of this honor.

Obviously, the marketing value of this is hard to measure. It has become part of our print and online strategy, and it has worked. We reprinted the article and put it in every gift bag we delivered. Our clients were amazed and elated for us. They love finding out that their local jeweler is a bit of an industry celebrity, even if it is only briefly.

On a very personal level, this is one of the biggest “ego strokes” of my career. While we all try to craft a public image for our business and certainly get positive feedback from our clients, the judgment of one’s peers who really are on the inside and truly know how you stack up when viewed against your colleagues from around the country is meaningful at a level that I lack words to describe.

I encourage everyone to give it a try. Perhaps you will find yourself asked to write this article sometime in the future from the same perspective.

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LEARN HOW TO ENTER AMERICA’S COOLEST STORES

DEADLINE FOR 2016 CONTEST IS MARCH 15!


Jim Rosenheim is the chairman of Tiny Jewel Box in Washington, D.C., which was America’s Coolest Store in the Big Store division in 2011..

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