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Editor's Note

What Makes a Store Cool?

It’s the special sauce of individuality.



WHEN I SAW a photo of an inverted canoe chandelier hanging from Erik Runyan Jewelers’ 18-foot ceilings in Vancouver, WA, I wanted to meet the people who put it there.

I got my chance in June when our panel of expert judges chose ERJ as the No. 1 America’s Coolest Store in the Big Cool division.

What draws me to ERJ is not just the canoe. The store is the perfect expression of everything Erik and Leslie Runyan love. They raised their three daughters on boats and dirt bikes. Their spirit of adventure, the sea and wide-open spaces are reflected in the store design and ambience.

Gem dealers Simon and Laurie Watt have curated EAT Gallery, the No. 1 store in the Small Cool division, to display beloved treasures, from local art to hand-carved gem sculptures. They’ve managed to connect Maysville, the Kentucky town they’ve chosen to call home, to the wide world of gems they inhabit in their travels. The place is so personal that if you tell manager Katherine Cotterill just what you want, she will string natural stones or pearls right there at her desk to match your vision — or your outfit.

Each of this year’s Cool Stores scored high in the category of individuality. Without that special sauce, even the most opulent store can feel cold.

On the other hand, when you’re able to be yourself, shoppers are delighted by the sense of ease and comfort that results from such authenticity.  How cool is that?


What Makes a Store Cool?

Eileen McClelland

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Create a proprietary wine label to share with clients in your store and add to your overall brand. (The Big Story, p. 46)
  • Provide “loaner” rings to customers to use to pop the question so that the fiancée can be involved in the selection/design process later. (The Big Story, p. 72)
  • Produce a video blog series that shows viewers how jewelry looks when worn and introduces new collections or pieces. (The Big Story, p. 36)
  • Offer concierge services for your clients, including making dinner reservations, finding local tours or calling up Google Maps for directions. (The Big Story, p. 66)
  • Sponsor a Champagne diamond giveaway, in which all participants receive a cubic zirconia and one trades in for a real diamond. (The Big Story, p. 78)



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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