Professional Jeweler Archive:A Tale of Two Jewelers

September 2000


A Tale of Two Jewelers

In New Jersey, two retailers undertake similar remodels for dissimilar reasons

Remodeling or enlarging a store sends signals that can affect a business’ image. But when two stores are practically across the street from each other in a small town (Haddonfield, NJ, population 12,000) and end up with similar looks, it’s easy to conclude at least one of them was keeping up with the Joneses.

The proprietors of both stores, Stephen Wisely Jewelers and Sam S. Yampell Jewelers, plead innocent to the charge.

“I wouldn’t build this type of store just for Haddonfield,” says Stephen Wisely, who opened his enlarged 2,500-sq.-ft. store in June. Haddonfield is “just a venue” for a jewelry business seeking a regional, even national, audience, he says. Stephen Wisely Jewelers may even grow to become a chain, he says, and he needs a headquarters location that won’t disappoint high expectations of his upscale customers.

“We view this as a Fifth Avenue/Newport Beach-type of store,” he says. Wisely first opened in 1980 in nearby Cherry Hill, NJ, moved to Haddonfield two years later and then expanded into next door.

Sam Yampell, on the other hand, views his store as a hometown business. His grandfather opened Sam S. Yampell Jewelers in 1929. The new 2,000-sq.-ft. shop opened in December 1999 opposite its old 700-sq.-ft. location on Haddonfield’s main street. “We often refer to ourselves as a Haddonfield tradition, so we definitely wanted to stay on the main street,” says Yampell. “But we’d outgrown the old store.”

The location is an 18th century street lined with colonial architecture, so both jewelers chose to move up in a classic style. Outside, their spaces feature red brick facades, traditional colors and colonial-type signboards. Inside, the decor includes classic columns and – most strikingly – a feature Wisely calls “the rotunda.”

This circular arrangement of columns and display cases serves, in both stores, as the focal point and tool to shape the respective images of the jewelers.

At Wisely’s, the rotunda features jewelry by cutting-edge designers such as Greg Ruth, D.K. Finds and Luca Carati. In the future, the rotunda will showcase Wisely’s signature line now in development.

Yampell’s rotunda features traditional jewelry and engagement rings. It’s an effort to break out of a reputation that goes back to his grandfather, a watchmaker. “We’ve always had watchmakers on the premises and still do,” says Yampell, noting the shop is an official Rolex dealer and service center. “But we’d developed a reputation as a watch store that carried jewelry and we want to change that.” In the new store, watches are in the rear; Yampell says he has already seen growth in sales of platinum and three-stone rings.

Wisely is creating what he hopes will be a regional destination store for discriminating affluent folks. So he’s added items such as the MacKenzie-Childs line of giftware and furniture and placed some of these items prominently. Already, he’s sold what he calls a “ridiculous bench” – an overstuffed and brightly painted item – for $5,000.

Given the radically different images their owners are determined to project, however, it would be a wonder if one store’s customers even notice the other store.

– by Mark E. Dixon

Though their customers and merchandise differ widely, two retail jewelers in Haddonfield, NJ, have remarkably similar store designs. Both jewelers say it’s an coincidence. At left is Sam S. Yampell Jewelers; above, Stephen Wisely Jewelers.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications