February 1998



If you've got bench jewelers, flaunt 'em, says store remodeler


It's now quite the thing for retail jewelers with on-site craftspeople to "make a big deal about it" by putting them on display behind a window in the store, says Ruth Mellergaard, president of the New York City store-design firm Grid 3 International Inc.

Under Mellergaard's supervision, Austin Maxwell, a store in Millburn, NJ, has done just that. The store, which opened in September, is the second one for owners Michael and Suzy Gengos. Their first, Kay-Finlay, is in Jersey City.

Michael Gengos wants to project a different feeling with the new store, located in a former art gallery. He aims for a mixture of casual Soho artiness and Madison Avenue class, a far cry from the traditional credit-jeweler atmosphere at the Jersey City store.

The jeweler-in-the-window concept helps him to win his customers' trust and convinces them the store is an important source for exclusive and prestigious products, he says. First, it shows he has nothing to hide. "People get uncomfortable when a jeweler takes their ring and disappears into a back room," he says. Second, the window, 5 feet high and 10 feet long, lets customers see that the store makes much of its own jewelry (it also sells narrowly distributed designer lines such as Versace). This further enhances the store's credibility with customers, Gengos says.

In front of the window is a 16-ft.-long coffee bar. There, customers sit, watch the bench jeweler, talk and drink espresso. It has turned his store into a nesting place, offering comfort to shopping-worn men escorting their wives or girlfriends. "Men who have never spent 10 minutes in a jewelry store now hang out for an hour at a time," he says.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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