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October 1999


Have Some Sense

Store design's not all about what you see

In the age of the Internet, where interactivity in retail is reduced to JPEGs and kilohertz– per– second, thinking about more than just visual elements in your store will help you win the retail game. Ruth Mellergaard of GRID/3 International, an interior design firm in New York City specializing in jewelry stores, offered some suggestions on appealing to the five senses at the Independent Jewelers Organization Buying Show & Conference in July in Cincinnati, OH.

Minimalism creates simple, calming interior designs. Hand– done visuals such as murals and faux finishes add a personal touch. Designers are using grays instead of blacks, pearls and off– whites instead of stark whites, blues and purples as neutral colors, shades of flesh– tone pink, and greens warmed with yellow. "Inclusive colors" (golds, siennas, wood tones) appeal less to demographics and more to lifestyles. Channeling natural light by adding windows or skylights not only lights jewelry and people more effectively, but also appeals to biorhythms, making customers feel more refreshed and comfortable.

Try to eliminate as many unwanted sounds as possible (phones, fax machines, bench steamers and polishers). Insulate walls, install tile ceilings with high NRC ratings and use underpads with carpeting. Buy high– quality speakers for music. If you use a TV and VCR for education, turn them off when not in use; they'll drive your salespeople crazy!

Clean and polish every piece of jewelry and your display cases so they don't feel greasy when customers touch them. Use soft suede or leather counter pads and packaging with interesting textures – crinkly tissue paper, velvet pouches, silky ribbons. "The experience of opening the gift is as important as what's inside," says Mellergaard.

See if you can open up your air conditioning system to let in fresh air from time to time so your store doesn't smell stale. And make sure the bench jewelers' area is well– ventilated. Use trees and plants to improve the quality of the air. Many people are allergic to flowers and perfume, so choose your aromatic sources carefully: use roses, which are hypoallergenic, non– perfumed candles or an aromatherapy system such as Aromasys, Minneapolis, MN, (612) 924– 0336.

Giving customers something to drink or munch on allows them to linger a bit longer in your store and causes them to associate a pleasant taste with your environment. Offer coffee, espresso, water, wine, Girl Scout cookies, suckers, mints or hot apple cider during the December holidays.

by Stacey King

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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