Retailer News

STORES EXHIBIT MONROE MEMORABILIA

A Mikimoto pearl necklace given to film star Marilyn Monroe by her husband, baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, to celebrate their 1954 marriage was the centerpiece of an exhibit of rare Monroe memorabilia recently displayed at several stores.

The necklace is the inspiration for Mikimoto’s newest limited-edition collection. The first pearl choker, limited to 100 pieces, is a graduated necklace of 10 mm x 8 mm cultured pearls. A smaller version, which features 9 mm x 7 mm pearls, is limited to 1,000 pieces.

To celebrate the launch of the collection, Bailey Banks & Biddle in the Mall at Short Hills, Short Hills, N.J.; C.D. Peacock Jewelers, Oak Brook, Ill.; and Shreve & Co., San Francisco, hosted an exhibition of rare Marilyn Monroe memorabilia from the collection of fashion historian Gene London. C.D. Peacock, Chicago’s oldest retailer, hosted trunk shows featuring Mikimoto pearl jewelry in addition to the public exhibit. Bailey Banks & Biddle hosted a reception for 200 guests and made a donation to the Jewelers Charity Fund for Children in conjunction with the event.

SAMUELS BUYS C&H RAUCH

Samuels Jewelers Inc. of Austin, Texas, one the country’s largest jewelry retailers, has bought C&H Rauch, the 112-year-old jewelry chain in Lexington, Ky.

C&H Rauch operated 40 stores in five states: Kentucky (22), Ohio (8), Indiana (4), West Virginia (4), and Virginia (2). The Kentucky stores will operate as “C&H Rauch, a division of Samuels Jewelers” for the near future. The rest will be renamed gradually, starting next year. The purchase gives Samuels a total of 175 stores in 25 states, under the names Samuels, Samuels Diamonds, Schubach, C&H Rauch, A. Hirsh & Son, Hatfield Jewelers, Harts, and Silverman’s.

There will be no change or reductions in C&H Rauch’s store staffs or in district or divisional management, says Samuels president and chief executive officer Randall N. McCullough. “One of the things which motivated us [to buy Rauch] was the quality of the people in the stores and their managers,” he says. C&H Rauch has more than 200 employees.

There will be merchandising changes. The stores’ merchandise assortment will be expanded, and Samuels’ private-label credit program will be added. About 45% of Samuels’ business is from its private-label credit. Only 15% of Rauch’s was credit-based.

This is the third acquisition this year for Samuels (formerly known as Barry’s), which began the year with 111 stores. In June, it bought five-store Hart’s Jewelers in Denver, and in August, the 30-store Henry J. Silverman Jewelers of El Paso, Texas. Samuels officials say other additions are possible before the company’s fiscal year ends May 31.—William George Shuster

HOUSTON JEWELER RECEIVES HONORS

Houston jeweler I.W. Marks recently received four honors in recognition of his commitment to the arts.

Nationally, I.W. Marks Jewelers received the 1999 Business in the Arts Award in the Commitment Category for the fourth time. The award, sponsored by the Business Committee for the Arts and Forbes magazine, recognized companies that have supported the arts for 10 years or longer.

Locally, the store received the first Houston Business Journal Philanthropic Donor of the Year Award—Small Business in recognition of its support of the arts in Houston. In addition, I.W. and Shelly Ann Marks were honored at Houston Grand Opera’s opening-night gala performance of Aida for their support of the opera and at the Houston Youth Symphony and Ballet gala as “Cultural Leaders of the Year.”

This fall, the store unveiled a new, 2,800-sq.-ft. Designer and Bridal Collection couture jewelry salon. The addition to the store debuted with a trunk show that benefited the Houston Symphony.