Revamping a jewelry store or designing a new one from scratch can be a stressful experience. Two experts — Jesse Balaity, owner of Balaity Property Enhancement in Sarasota, Florida, and Robert Dykman, president of RAD Construction Consultants in Livingston, New Jersey — offer some tips for navigating the process.
Determine your goals
Do you want to update a 20-year-old store? Rebrand a family business? Go upscale? “The solution is different for every jeweler, but the focus has to be on function first,” says Balaity. “It’s easy to make a store pretty, but it has to be functional, safe and profitable.”
Considerations should include your clients’ needs, the amount of custom jewelry work you do, and the space you want to dedicate to retail.
Define your vision
“It’s critical for the retailer to convey the big picture [to me] so that I can translate it into the form and function of the store,” says Dykman, adding that “the most compelling reason to upgrade is not for your existing clients, but for your future client base.”
Build a complete budget
This should include design fees, showcases, and the actual cost of construction. It’s also important to take the extras into account, says Balaity — things like audio-visual, furniture and displays.
Take a multifaceted approach
Avoid fitting everyone into the same retail interaction model. The way we sell has changed, Balaity notes, and “offering a variety of spaces to interact allows you to cater to clients’ preferences and comfort levels — whether that’s a private consultation room or a community table for a shared experience.”
Look beyond jewelry stores for ideas
When searching for inspiration, see what other industries are doing. “Consider all of the spaces that your clients frequent, from hospitality to other retailers,” Balaity advises.
Review your security systems
“Unfortunately, bigger and better can make the store more of a target,” warns Balaity.
Older isn’t necessarily better
Recognize that anything old will look even older against a new backdrop. Don’t carry dated logos and signage into a new space. “Expecting to refurbish existing showcases could be throwing good money after bad,” says Balaity, though he acknowledges that it might be necessary for budgetary reasons.
Keep it open
Consider an open remodel, with partitions or windows between the selling area and the area that’s under construction, so customers can tell the store is still operating. “It’s very important to maintain continuity, because you don’t want to lose business,” explains Dykman. “The last thing you want is a client seeing a locked door and going to one of your competitors.”
To maintain that accessible atmosphere, he also recommends encouraging your staff “to dress casually in jeans.”
Take your brands into account
Involve the brands you sell, such as Rolex, early on in the process because of the long lead times they may require, advises Balaity.
Dykman prefers to minimize brand installations in general; while he understands their cachet, he warns against letting them dilute your own brand message. “I want clients to walk in and know whose store it is.”
Hire a team that knows jewelry stores
Getting designers with firsthand knowledge of your business makes a huge difference. “Jewelry stores are so different from other stores,” says Dykman. He personally takes a hands-on approach, spending two to three days on site during a project. “But I try to get my ego out of the way. It’s the owner’s store.”
Image: (Balaity Property Enhancement)