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ACS 2009: Third Place Small Cool: The Green Bull Fine Jewellery Couture

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The Green Bull Fine Jewellery COUTURE

BOERNE, TX
URL: www.greenbulljewelry.com
OWNER: Jerry Gowen
FOUNDED: 1997
OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2000
RENOVATION: 2008
AREA: 3,200 square feet
ARCHITECT/DESIGN FIRM: self-designed
EMPLOYEES:
5 full-time, 3 part-time
TOP BRANDS: Lorenzo, Caro 74, Valina Bridals, Sethi Couture, William Henry, Bellarri, Tag Heuer, Longines

Maverick: n. 1) an unbranded range animal, 2) a nonconformist, independent, loner.

NO OTHER WORD could so aptly describe both The Green Bull Fine Jewellery Couture and its innovative owner, Jerry Gowen. After earning a degree in theological studies, Gowen decided to make his living as an artist — specifically in the medium of jewelry. The Green Bull was born in 1997 after Gowen won first place in the Texas State Design competition and a diamond broker set him up with $150,000 worth of memo inventory. Just over a decade later, Gowen’s vision of a high-end shopping experience — he’s never even been inside of another jewelry store — is bringing further accolades, and, more important, business success, as the store saw 30 percent growth in 2008.

Five Cool Things About This Store

Name Dropping

1One of the most creative store names in the country, The Green Bull was actually taken from the name of Gowen’s original hometown, Bulverde (“verde” in Spanish means “green,” so the local nickname for the town was “The Green Bull”). He won a design competition under the name and was advised to keep it when he moved to Boerne. “It’s got a Texas flair to it,” says Gowen. “Tourists have told us that they tell their friends, ‘You have to visit The Green Bull.’”

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Wild West Heritage

2 The building that now houses The Green Bull was once the town’s original livery stable, built in 1898. It fell into disrepair, becoming “the ugliest building on Main Street” according to Gowen, complete with asbestos siding, boards across the windows, water damage, and a paint job dating back to 1952. Gowen replaced the original stucco with rock and polished the original floor, then added “as many dramatic elements as possible.”

Intelligent Design

3The two top-selling jewelry lines in the store are both designed by Gowen himself: Simply Divine, which are crosses with a Western flair; and Jewelry With A Texas Attitude, featuring themes varying from stars to longhorns. “Most jewelers don’t have their own lines,” Gowen says. “People like to come in and buy something we’ve made here.”

Wandering Wonderland

4Exploring The Green Bull is an adventure, as customers move from a design-focused foyer into The Diamond Room (1,100 square feet of bridal and diamond jewelry), which is then flanked by The Coffee Room (with full beverage bar and seating area) and The Watch Room. “The average customer walks the whole showroom,” says Gowen, who designed the entire store himself.

Nothing Too Small

5No detail has been overlooked by Gowen. The store includes ceiling fans inside the entrance to cool customers on hot Texas days, a private viewing room with windows into the shop, a tin ceiling, wrought-iron doors, cave stone walls, a working fireplace, a cattle gate, and even concrete countertops featuring snail motifs of Gowen’s own design.

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Use Higher Showcases

GOWEN DESIGNED what he believes are the highest showcases in the country in order to bring his jewelry up to eye level for customers. The impact on shoppers is immediate, he says, and is a point of differentiation from other stores.

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Incorporate Antique Furniture

THE STORE DESIGN left the front right of his showroom a bit stranded, so Gowen added an antique dresser to draw attention and then put showcases on top of it. He also uses the area to discount dead inventory.

What the Judges Say

CLIFFORD PUGH: I like the old-world charm, especially the “cave stone” walls and stone and brick archway. With a coffee and beverage bar, stone fireplace and live music on the weekends, the Green Bull looks like a great place to hang out.

TIM MALONE: The use of rustic materials is a powerful visual juxtaposition of jewelry display.

PENNY PREVILLE: The many vintage design elements, and the use of the stone and brick from the original structure that stood 110 years ago preserves the town’s heritage.

MICHAEL WHISTON: The western traditions and history of the area are important to the story and retail experience The Green Bull wants to show its customer. The iron doors, stone walls and concrete floors create a unique shopping experience perfect for those interested in the traditions of the Old West.

TOD?MICHEL: Earth tones and the decor make this store one that is conducive to a stress free and enjoyable buying experience.

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STEVE SAMARAS: Talk about a store making its patrons feel comfortable. Its rustic and wine-cellar-like interior provides the customer an experience atypical of a stuffy jewelry store.

STORE IMAGES

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This story is from the August 2009 edition of INSTORE

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