Industry / Retail / Shows

What a Retailer Wants: Nicole Hurdle on JCK Las Vegas 2022


For the past 75 years, Hurdle’s Jewelry in Boulder, Colo., has epitomized the notion of a family jeweler. Family-owned and -operated since 1947, the retail store was founded by Chester L. Hurdle after he moved his family to Boulder from a small town in northern Missouri. Since 1957, Hurdle’s has been located at 1402 Pearl St. and is now run by Chester’s grandson, Keith Hurdle, and Keith’s daughter, Nicole (pictured).

JCK recently caught up with Nicole, who was named the winner of the third annual Beatrice Shipley Scholarship at the 2022 American Gem Society Conclave in Oklahoma City, to talk all things JCK Las Vegas. She joined the business about 11 years ago, after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a business degree, and has attended JCK for the past seven years.

Below, Nicole, who described her first visit to JCK as a bit overwhelming, talked us through her plans for the 2022 show, and, with her dad sitting by her side, confirmed that business has been so good this year that restocking inventory is a major priority.

“JCK is so much fun because you get to see so many new things, so many trends, and you get a broader perspective on the industry,” she says.

What’s your plan this year?

We typically go for three days on average. We book our schedule pretty tight. This year, for the most part, we’re booked. We try to give ourselves a little discovery time where we walk around and come across some fantastic designers. There’s something about being at a show and seeing the jewelry in person—you’re looking for it, you’re trying to see what’s a good fit for the store—that makes a big difference.

Hurdle's Jewelry flexible diamond bracelets
Flexible diamond bracelets are a hit with Hurdle’s clients.

I want to ask you about the products you’re looking for at the show, but before I do, it would be helpful to know how business was for Hurdle’s over the past couple years and leading into 2022?

We’re celebrating 75 years this year. My great-grandfather started the business in 1947. Last year was our best year ever and the year before, when we shut for a couple months, was our second-best year.

We’ve heard all the reasons why jewelry performed so well during the pandemic. How do you explain your success?

The travel industry was not happening and people had money to spend, and what we found, too, was that it was a lot of personal purchasing—this feeling of “I made it through this difficult time, I’m going to reward myself for it.”

We also have a large estate/consignment section in our store, and that contributed immensely to our success because people had time to go through all their stuff and brought it in to consign with us.

And the third aspect that’s been a huge part is really having time to explore social media and trying to expand our clientele. We’ve been in Boulder for 75 years so people know us here, but they may not know us out of state. We’re trying to reach clients out of state through Instagram or TikTok—those efforts are paying off.

How has business in 2022 been so far?

Just as strong. It’s been incredible. Having strong employees is a huge factor for us in building new clientele, reaching new people. And with people traveling again, we’re getting good traffic again. We just had CU graduation—everybody was here for graduation.

Does that mean you’re in need of restocking?

Absolutely. Historically, we’ve not done a lot of ordering throughout the year. We really wait till one of these big shows, JCK primarily, or if we’re talking gemstones, AGTA in Tucson. Now, we’re trying to maintain that level of inventory versus going into JCK with the intention of buying everything.

What’s on your shopping list this year?

Bigger pieces will be a focus for us. Rather than getting a lot of small inventory, we’re looking at a few really special pieces and building off of that. We have some different vendors that carry lines that are smaller, so we have the ability to fill in with $200–$500 pieces, so at the show, we’ll be looking to fill in special pieces. And also letting social media dictate the pulls and what we’re looking for at the show.

Hurdle's Jewelry diamond rings
On Nicole Hurdle’s JCK shopping list: big diamonds 

Meaning that you’ll post images of what you’re seeing at the show to Instagram and let your clients’ real-time feedback guide you?

Yes. This is the first time we’re bringing somebody to focus on social with us. That’ll be different. We definitely have a good following of core clients who follow along, and there’s a lot of interest and feedback we get live in the moment, which is so beneficial for us. Something I see that I think is really cool—I could get live feedback from somebody who is interested in the piece.

It starts with Instagram and then I get the text: “Hey, I just saw this. Can you tell me more?” We don’t have a social media person—that’s my role—but the person we’re bringing is someone who’s going to help me not only buy more for the store but also support what we put out on social.

Which trends are you specifically shopping for?

I hear pearls are trending; I don’t know if we’re quite there yet. Normally New York and L.A. get the trends first and then down the road we end up with the same trends. Though I think with online, it happens quicker. I had a client the other day, and I told her, “I hear pearls are back.” And she said, “I’m from the South, they never left.”

We have great pearl inventory in estate cases, but I hear it’s a huge trend so maybe the incorporation of pearls with a gold chain, something that has a modern feel with a more traditional pearl style, will work well.

Hurdle's Jewelry emerald necklace
Emeralds, like this stunner set in yellow gold, have been popular at Hurdle’s Jewelry. 

Based on some of our feedback, we’re also looking for bigger diamond pieces, bigger rings, bigger gemstone pieces. Emeralds have been really popular for us in recent months. We’ll have those but also have to have that other variety and range of pieces—we really try to cover the entire spectrum of buyers.

Which of your designers are especially resonating with clients this year?

We have been really successful with EF Collection lately. That’s that personal purchase—it’s perfect for stacking.

Hurdle's Jewelry EF Collection studs
A display of stud earrings by EF Collection at Hurdle’s Jewelry 

Trend wise, the flexible diamond tennis bracelets have been huge for us—that balance of classic with a little modern twist, from vendors such as Heera Moti and IDD. For us, everybody rock climbs here or does yoga, and they want something they can wear during that. We have a very active community.

Any fun restaurants or shows you’re looking forward to in Vegas?

I feel lucky I’ve been there so many times and have seen so many of the shows. I love Tao for dinner. They have this fish dish that is spectacular, so I always look forward to that. And that French restaurant in The Venetian, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, is so good. My dad will probably want Mesa Grill. He just gave me a thumbs-up. He loves that place.

(All photos courtesy of Nicole Hurdle)

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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