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The Coolest Jewelry State in America Is …

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Go to any business school and they will drum into you the importance of treating memory and intuition with suspicion. If it’s a decision that’s important, recurring, and amenable to improvement, you should invest in gathering data, doing analysis, and examining “failure factors,” or so goes the orthodoxy (and the jargon).

Now suppose the issue at stake was, What’s the coolest state in America for jewelry retail, based on the one with the most appearances on INSTORE’s America’s Coolest Store honor list dating back to 2008 (when we introduced the Small Cool, Big Cool format)?

As someone who has written some of the store profiles and subbed many of the pages, I think I could be trusted to deliver a pretty reliable answer to such a line of inquisition. My response, stated with the conviction of an inside expert: Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, probably Oregon, with North Carolina close behind, based on its plethora of great small stores there. But what about Florida, California, New York, you say. Yes, time and time again we hear from small stores in country towns that the highest compliment they have received is, “Wow, this is the kind of store I’d expect to find in Manhattan.”

Yet, I can confidently declare we’ve never had a Cool Store winner from Manhattan, and only a smattering from New York state …

So, in the wake of our latest competition, won by a store in Portland, no less (Alchemy; Small Cool), where is it, the coolest state in the land for jewelry retail?

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This is discouraging, from a human infallibility point of view … but the numbers don’t lie: It’s New York, with seven placings including one first place finish (London Jewelers in 2009).

North Carolina was actually in second place with five stores among our Coolest since 2008, along with Texas and Florida (which mostly supplied Big Cool winners). Arizona had four and finally there was Oregon at three and Washington State at two.

OK, so maybe it’s true: we do tend to give to much weighting to recent events. But the good thing about looking at the Coolest Store winners list over the last few years is their geographic diversity. A huge chunk of the country has been represented, from the places you’d expect – Orange County and Palm Beach, FL – to the ones you may not: Boise, ID, Tulsa, OK, and again with this year’s Big Cool winner, Florence, AL.

But then again a statement like that probably just reflects more faulty preconceptions, on my part.

And if you own a store, anywhere in the country, enter the contest next year, especially if you’re from a state that’s never won — you’ll be doing your part of the country proud.

Here is that list of Cool Store states, dating back to 2008:

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7 from NY

5 from FL

5 from NC

5 from TX

4 from AZ

3 from CA

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3 from MN

3 from OR

3 from Washington, DC

2 from IL
2 from IN
2 from LA

2 from MI

2 from OK

2 from PA

2 from WA

1 from AL

1 from AR

1 from CT
1 from IA
1 from ID

1 from GA

1 from HI

1 from MO

1 from MD

1 from UT

1 from VA


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