Spence Diamonds will open three new stores this year: two in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and one in Ottawa, Canada, according to Eric Lindberg, the retailer’s executive chairman.
Spence currently has three stores in the United States—in Austin, Texas; San Jose, Calif.; and Scottsdale, Ariz. (pictured right)—as well as seven in Canada, where it began. When these three new stores are built, it will have a total of 13.
But the company sees greater expansion in the next three years and is aiming for between 28 and 40 stores by 2021—which means it will open between five and 10 stores a year.
“We would like to open 10,” Lindberg says. “But we want to open them in the right way.”
As to why it’s opening two stores in Dallas, he says, “The two locations draw people from different parts of the Metroplex. But we can use the same radio and TV for both.”
The new Spence stores will all be its “next generation” models, which include prominent video displays and eliminate the traditional store counters that separate the buyer from the seller.
“They have what I would call a non-adversarial physical configuration,” Lindberg says. “When you set up counters, it has someone in an authoritative position. What we have done is more like Apple, where it’s impossible for someone to stand behind a counter.”
In addition, Spence, once primarily known as a brass-and-glass retailer, has become a big believer in lab-grown diamonds, which it markets under the name Artisan Created.
“Our concept isn’t that we love lab diamonds or mined diamonds,” says Lindberg. “We don’t push anything. We take consumers through a deep education process. Our process is to show the options and let the consumer decide. We are not quite ready to give a specific number, but the industry would be absolutely shocked when they see, with actual consumer choice, what the level of adoption [of lab diamonds] is.”
It’s also advertising the created diamonds on the radio and has found a growing number of consumers coming in looking for them.
He called De Beers’ decision to introduce Lightbox “a nothing burger.”
“It is a predictable response from an incumbent in a category that is under threat,” he says. “This is a defensive measure to devalue [lab-growns] as a fashion consumer product. We don’t think companies should take the stand that they know better than the consumer.”
However, Lindberg does find the positioning behind the line—lab-grown fashion jewelry for less than $1,000—intriguing and plans to test a similar line.
Spence also has a new chief marketing officer, Veeral Rathod, the former CEO of online men’s custom clothier J. Hilburn. Rathod replaces Frank Hamlin, who joined Spence in May as its first-ever chief marketing officer. Hamlin eventually returned to his former employer, GameStop.
The company also has recruited Greenlight as its branding and creative agency and Crossmedia as a paid media partner.
Spence Diamonds opened its Austin and San Jose stores in 2016, following its purchase by Lion Capital. Lindberg is a former Lion Capital partner.
(Photos courtesy of Spence Diamonds)