Kesslers Diamonds is in the midst of a major expansion. The Germantown, Wis.–based retailer opened its sixth store on Oct. 2—a mini-me iteration of the retailer’s usual store concept—in downtown Milwaukee. And the retailer plans to open five more stores over the next seven years.
The new 2,200-square-foot boutique, which is roughly half the size of Kesslers’ five other locations, is tucked into the historic George Watts building in downtown Milwaukee. It’s the company’s first non-freestanding store. Owner Richard Kessler told me earlier this year that he has “a very aggressive plan for expansion over the next few years.” And his endgame is unique: to transfer total ownership of his company to his employees.
In 2011, Kesslers formed an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) that turned 49 percent of the company over to its employees. The aggressive expansion plan is steeped in a desire to build something valuable and lasting for the people who work there. “We could triple the size of our company and have 300 employee owners,” Kessler told me in April. “That would just be a marvelous thing in my world.”
During the next three years, the retailer will debut locations in the Wisconsin towns of Green Bay, Pleasant Prairie, Grafton, East Madison, and East Grand Rapids. According to UrbanMilwaukee.com, the expansion will double the size of the company.
The new, light-filled store—which is focused on both bridal and fashion jewelry—was previously a gallery space and was remodeled within three months of signing the lease, Kessler told UrbanMilwaukee.com. He added, “I’m still kind of in shock with how all this happened in 90 days.”
(Photo courtesy Kesslers Diamonds)