Shops in Shops

Shops in shops—carefully planned designer boutiques located within bustling stores—typically feature impressive brands (such as Cartier), a wide selection of a designer’s work, lots of back stock, and a major commitment from the storeowner. “Shops in shops are a lot of give and take,” says Marie Helene Morrow, president of Reinhold Jewelers, San Juan, Puerto Rico, who has three in-store boutiques—David Yurman, Tous, and Tiffany.

According to those who have them, the payoff for these partnerships is increased sales. Mark Udell, co-owner of London Jewelers, Glen Cove, N.Y., says in-store boutiques have been “very successful” in the industry since the idea caught on about 20 years ago. “Jewelry has really become branded just as much as watches,” he observes. One of Udell’s stores features Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and David Yurman boutiques. Other designers commonly featured in in-store boutiques include Tous, Tiffany, Barry Kronen, Chopard, Bulgari, Chanel, Roberto Coin, Rolex, and Franck Muller.

Grand opening

Usually it’s the designer who initiates a shop-in-shop, by approaching a storeowner with whom he or she already has an account. That’s a “big compliment,” says Robin Levinson, president and co-owner, Levinson’s Jewelers, Plantation, Fla. The timing of an invitation depends on a store’s stage of development, especially in terms of marketing.

“In the beginning, no one would have given us a boutique, but everything evolves,” Levinson says. “Our store used to be in a jewelry exchange (similar to a product mart)—one little booth with four showcases. But now we’ve been in business for 21 years … we’re a success story,” Levinson notes, with her company’s numerous in-store boutiques in mind.

Strong relationships and commitments to growth also are important. “We keep [the vendor’s brand image] the way they want it,” says Udell. To do so, vendors supply jewelers with signage and, sometimes, promotions based on purchases.

For some jewelers, stores in stores are nothing new, just more elaborate. Morrow has been identifying jewelry by artist for 30 years.

“Shops in shops evolved naturally,” she says. “Jewelry designers were artists and had a collection. I didn’t sell Yurman because he was Yurman. I sold their pieces because they were artists, and I needed to have an area that was identified as their area.”

Polish and presentation

Each shop in shop has a unique look, depending on the brand highlighted. “For Yurman, it’s Amber Valletta pictures in all [boutiques] because that’s the only way you can give him what he wants,” says Morrow.

Shops within stores offer clarity and organization of stock to participating vendors. “Jewelry in a case can get confusing if it’s not displayed right,” says Levinson.

Another consideration is space—you’ll need plenty. Levinson’s Jewelers is 40,000 sq. ft., London’s store in Americana Manhasset—where its in-store boutiques are located—is 8,000 sq. ft., and Reinhold’s Plaza Las Americas location is 4,000 sq. ft.

Stores in stores “aren’t for everybody,” observes Morrow, who knows some jewelers don’t like to have the names of others prominently displayed in their stores. However, such ventures do allow storeowners to offer a greater depth of a designer’s work in a more identifiable manner.

“For me, I wouldn’t want all boutiques,” says Levinson. “But I like a combination [of jewelry cases and boutiques].”