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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?


Eileen McClelland
[email protected]

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)

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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Wilkerson Testimonials

Retirement Made Easy with Wilkerson

The store was a landmark in Topeka, Kansas, but after 80 years in business, it was time for Briman’s Leading Jewelers to close up shop. Third generation jeweler and owner Rob Briman says the decision wasn’t easy, but the sale that followed was — all thanks to Wilkerson. Briman had decided a year prior to the summer 2020 sale that he wanted to retire. With a pandemic in full force, he had plenty of questions and concerns. “We had no real way to know if we were going to be successful or have a failure on our hands,” says Briman. “We didn’t know what to expect.” But with Wilkerson in charge, the experience was “fantastic” and now there’s plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying a more secure retirement. “I would recommend Wilkerson to any retailer considering a going-out-of-business sale,” says Briman. “They’ll help you reach your financial goal. Our experience was a tremendous success.”

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