Themes and Variations


July 1998


Themes and Variations

Themed retailing is a world of space aliens, sport stars, tropical rain forests and man-eating sharks. Can jewelers find a place t

Retail-tainment has become so pervasive that a store – and this includes your retail jewelry store – that stands aloof is in danger of losing its hard-earned identity, says Ed Rosenberg, president of VisionZ, a store design and construction firm. Furthermore, he says, stores that join the trend will end up with lower mall rents and better locations than those that don't – developers want retailers who help them to establish their properties as attention-grabbing entertainment complexes.

Rosenberg has developed themes for everything from casinos to apparel stores to restaurants to, yes, jewelry stores.

In 1989, he opened a jewelry and gift store called Zero Gravity, which now has 10 units nationwide (his company owns two of them and eight are licensed operations). The themes vary from location to location, but they share the common thread of futuristic fantasy. The Orlando store, for instance, features a model of a female time traveler (the life-size metallic model looks like a distaff Robocop, Rosenberg says) who glimpses various civilizations through "portals in time."
A theme carried throughout your store can turn it into a must-see destination, as in the Las Vegas outpost of Zero Gravity

Sound a little far out for your store? Not to worry, Rosenberg says. Themes don't have to be zany – they can be as sophisticated and classy as you want. How about a theme that evokes a past era or culture, say ancient Rome or Egypt? If a section of your store features colored gems, think about a Colombian rain forest theme.

Themes also can be fairly subtle, created with murals, typefaces or other graphic elements, Rosenberg advises. You don't need salespeople dressed as Nubian slaves or sound effects suggesting monkeys calling from treetops. You may want to "trick out" just a small part of your store – a patch of just a few square feet – so your theme won't overwhelm your entire interior, and your customers.

Of course, not anything goes. One of Rosenberg's jewelry store clients wanted an entrance shaped like a giant engagement ring. Rosenberg thought better of it. "There was no way it could not look cheap," he says.

On the other hand, some stores are perfect settings for wacky ideas. In a watch store planned to open in a Disney project in Orlando, FL, Rosenberg came up with a drop-dead display: a model of a man-eating shark with a human arm extending from its mouth. On the victim's wrist: a TAG Heuer diver watch.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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