What Cool Has Meant to Me...

Posted: 8/10/2014

From 3 cases to 3 stores- being a cool store has been a thrill...  In his own words, Steve Quick on being one of country's coolest stores:

Winning InStore's America's Coolest Stores award means a lot.  A jury of experts looks at what you do along with what you've built.  It's an honor to be selected, and I found the commentary highly instructional.  How often does an opportunity present itself to stop and reflect on your business?  If you are busy, not very often.  If it does happen, chances are it's not with the guidance of five experts.

My Cool Store was a labor of love.  From the first day of demolition to the installation of light bulbs on opening day, I was on site.  From the paint to our never done before showcases, I was completely involved.

 We were joining what is considered one of the 10 most fashionable neighborhoods in America. Wicker Park is also a time capsule of Chicago architecture.  Elevated train tracks run near Rodeo Drive-level designer stores.  We needed to look and feel like we belonged.

For the first time ever, I had the resources and time to create something truly special.  I was also certain that anything less than a great effort would be obvious to our neighbors and harmful to business.  I went the extra mile in every way possible, and it paid off.  The store is welcoming, warm, and of course, extremely cool.

As soon as the issue announcing America's Coolest Stores came out, it felt like the entire jewelry business was aware of my win. I started receiving phone calls and notes of congratulations.  Old friends and many people I had never met called to say how much they enjoyed what we were doing and our store's unique design.  I have also had several designers call to offer jewelry collections on memo.  That has surely never happened before.

I took full advantage of our new found coolness from a marketing stand point. We had billboards and full page ads made up immediately.  Our front window display for August and September was built around the award and included signage that explained our good fortune in detail. What a great way to introduce yourself to a new neighborhood: We are here and we are cool.  Our Wicker Park store was instantly successful, and being designated "cool" by InStore definitely helped the cause.

I received a Western Union telegram from my parents on my first day in business.  The date stamped is Sept. 22, 1986.  I signed for the telegram in my 200-square-foot showroom on the seventh floor with three used showcases and very little inventory. Now, instead of three cases, I have three stores.  The journey has been and continues to be thrilling.  Being named a Cool Store was one of the highlights.

 

Commentary by Steve Quick

InStore Magazine, August 2014