Professional Jeweler Archive: Bailey Banks & Biddle: Appealing to Upscale Women

January 2005

The Store / Image

Bailey Banks & Biddle: Appealing to Upscale Women

The store's new design looks more like home and is appealingly fashion-conscious

by Michael Thompson

As customers walk through the brushed nickel grillwork doors at the new prototype Bailey Banks & Biddle store in Houston, TX, they leave behind echoes of the teeming Houston Galleria. They enter a world of luxury, service and beautiful objects with a softer, more residential decor that’s unmistakably appealing to women, as well as to the men who buy for them.

The store is designed to make you want to linger. It has a seating area with cushioned armchairs and a coffee table that displays fashionable jewelry and Daum crystal ornaments under its glass top.

“We want to take Bailey’s, with its 172-year history of great service, quality and value, and update it and present it to the target customer, who is 35 to 45 years old,” Charles Fieramosca, president of Bailey Banks & Biddle, told Women’s Wear Daily. “She has changed over the years, and we need to tell her that we are the store for her.”

Among parent company Zale Corp.’s various brands, Bailey Banks & Biddle is positioned as the place for buyers seeking prestige, status and self-actualization, says Zale President and CEO Mary Forté, who spoke about the chain’s brand positioning at the Rapaport Conference in October. These so-called “higher-level needs” are particularly resonant with affluent buyers.

The venerable jewelry brand, launched in 1832 in Philadelphia, PA, will use its new look in at least six stores around the country. Locations in King of Prussia, PA, and Palm Beach Gardens, FL, are slated to receive the design this spring. “Where we have the opportunity to take a larger space in an established trading area that has the potential to justify it, then we certainly will do it,” Fieramosca told WWD. “We’re placing an emphasis on distinctive merchandise and service, and doing it in a warm and fuzzy, hug-your-customer kind of way,” At 7,800 square feet, the Houston store, for example, is nearly twice the size of its former location several stores away in the Galleria.

Open Ambience

The glass windows of the new Bailey Banks & Biddle in Houston allow a clear view of the store. Customers walk through brushed nickel grates with bars that form a series of interlocking leaf shapes. These shapes form the new Bailey Banks & Biddle pattern, created by the company’s design team in conjunction with Robert Young Associates, Dallas, TX. This design is prominent throughout the store and can be seen on lamps, sales associate desk “cages,” mirrors, tables and carpeting.

Beige and rich wood textures are intended to create a comfortable ambience. Wall covering textures include shagreen (shark skin), stingray and raffia. “The Houston store has state-of-the-art fiber-optic lighting, lower-profile display cases and a softer palette so it would be all about the jewelry,” Fieramosca told WWD. “What we’re trying to create here is a very high-touch environment.”

Satin steel and shell-covered panels from the South Seas accent African mahogany showcases. Inside the cases, the jewelry and watches take center stage atop fawn suede showcase material. This concept has been tried elsewhere and then used in its final form, with stronger design, at this location. Displays in the showcases recess into the secured bottom of the case each evening and are raised in the morning, allowing the staff to open and close the store faster.

The Jewelry Mix

The merchandise mix is different too. The fashion-conscious colored gemstone jewelry collection and the gift department account for a larger portion of the mix. In addition, Houston’s only Vera Wang jewelry display fills its own showcase near the glass-enclosed diamond room, giving the store even more of the kind of high-fashion appeal so attractive to women. Other well-known designer jewelry names also fill out showcases, providing additional brand sizzle.

“As important as bridal is to us, so is fashion because today’s modern woman has a need for day-into-evening jewelry,” Fieramosca told WWD.

Bailey Banks & Biddle’s new store design features neutral shades that allow the jewelry, watches and gifts to take center stage.
The new Bailey Banks & Biddle store in Houston offers a larger gift department in its own wing.

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications