Cool Store: Peter & Co. Jewelers
BY EILEEN MCCLELLAND
Published in the May2012 issue
URL: peterjewelers.com | Owner: Theresia Oreskovic | Founded: 1987 | Opened Featured Location 2010 | Architect : Craig Dixon & Associates | Cases and Interior: Baker Store Design | Cost: $350,000 | Employees: 10 | Tagline: We have what women want
When Theresia Oreskovic and her daughters Tamara and Kim, working in their suburban stripcenter jewelry store, noticed a real estate company moving out of its prominent standalone building — just across the parking lot — they thought, “Why not? Why couldn’t we turn that building into a jewelry store?”
The once tiny family business founded in 1987 by Theresia’s late husband, Peter Oreskovic, wasn’t going to move far — but it was on the verge of a very big change.
“We were looking for up-to-date, we were looking for openness, we were looking for an uncluttered look,” Oreskovic says. “We wanted to be able to show the jewelry without having any kind of a stuffy feeling, and I think we accomplished that. We do have a nice, up-to-date look and an openness that is almost freeing. You don’t feel confined and you don’t feel pressured. You can just look and enjoy. It’s almost like a gallery.”
Five Cool Things
1THE BEGINNING Theresia met her husband, Peter, in 1975 when he worked as a fork-lift operator at Fisher Body-GM in Northeast Ohio. He spoke no English when he emigrated to the United States in 1961 from Yugoslavia, but he had a lot going for him. “He was a very confident guy, good at using his hands, creative, with limitless energy, a real people person,” Theresia recalls. Peter was always moonlighting and even owned a restaurant once. In 1987, he turned his wideranging attention to jewelry, opening a tiny spot where he sold gold chains.
In 1992, when Theresia, who had worked as a Swiss Air sales officer, joined him in the business, it had doubled in size and relocated to a strip shopping center in Avon Lake, OH. In 1998, the store grew again by adding the empty space next door.
In 2000, when Peter died, Theresia and daughters Tamara and Kim continued to grow the business. Ten years later, they were ready to move again.
2THE NEW SPACE In the process of redoing the former real estate offices, mother and daughters didn’t always see eye to eye, but they did all want an open, uncluttered look. “We wanted to stay contemporary and didn’t want to have the traditional jewelry store look,” Theresia says.
Baker Store Equipment helped them imagine what it could look like and designed the layout to maximize the space.
The building already had interesting architectural features — turrets and arched windows, for example — but needed help to make it work for jewelry.
“The challenge,” says Jerry Gonda of Baker Store Equipment, “was to take a cut-up interior and renovate it into a retail establishment. It had multiple entrances and offices and a furnace room in the middle of the building.”
The main entrance was moved away from the restrooms, an option far less expensive than relocating the restrooms. The furnace room was camouflaged by case layout and served to set off the Pandora department from the rest of the store. Part of the original ceiling had already been raised, but they wanted to open it all up. So an architect addressed the structural issue and designed diamond-shaped windows.
3FINISHING TOUCHES Theresia said one of the challenges for Baker was getting the three women to agree on something. “Once we were at Baker’s facility, we changed 180 degrees,” she says. The original color scheme was more earthy, but they decided on lighter showcases and a more interesting carpet, which is chocolate hued with a hint of purple. the middle of the building.”
In addition to traditional floorto- ceiling cases, Baker used floating cases — without bases — to open up the space visually. “If we had used cases in the center that went to the floor, it would have really taken away from any vista or sight line,” Gonda says. the middle of the building.”
Baker also built in versatility: Feature displays on top of tables are not bolted in place; they can be moved easily to convert case space into serving tables during events. the middle of the building.”
“The design is elegant but doesn’t feel imposing,” Theresia says. “Our color palette is relaxing and our store is an oasis from today’s hectic lifestyles.” The seating area, in front of a large mirror, adds to the ambience. “I had thought about a fireplace or a waterfall but decided on a mirror,” she says. “It adds elegance and expands the store.”
4ROOM TO MOVE In November 2010, Peter & Co. moved into its new home with a grand opening holiday party. “It was the talk of the town,” Theresia says. “Everyone wanted to come and see the new store. I’ve never had so many people in the store at one time.” There’s lots to see, on and off the showroom floor. Now customers can watch jewelry repair and design through windows into the goldsmith’s room. A dust-free watch-repair room was also added.
The new store has the same linear case space as before but, Oreskovic says, it shows up so much more beautifully in the new place.
Peter’s old friends stop by often to marvel at the store, to gaze up at the high ceilings, and to tell Theresia that Peter would be very proud.
5BOLD MARKETING For Peter & Co.’s “Share the Love” promotion — dreamed up by Fruchtman Marketing — store manager Tamara Geraci and employee Carrie Reimueller hit the town with about 25 gift-wrapped packages, containing merchandise ranging from $25 in value up to a $500 watch. “We randomly picked out people and gave them a gift for sharing the love during Valentine’s season,” Geraci says. “Every single person was shocked.” The presents came with cards asking recipients to let others know about the surprise on Facebook.
Five Questions With Theresia Oreskovic
1How have you outsmarted the recession?:Business was down a little in ’09; 2010 was up and 2011 ended about 10 percent up. Customers still want to buy, and we are able to make adjustments in inventory very quickly.
2Which categories are you having success with?: Customers still want gold or platinum for bridal, and will spend over $5,000 for Hearts On Fire. But, in fashion, because of the shift away from yellow gold toward white metal, customers have made the transition to silver more easily. So we are selling a lot of under-$1,000 in fashion. The Pandora Shop-in-Shop is doing well. We sell lightweight gold earrings with a substantial look, Debbie Brooks handbags, and some giftware, including Cross pens.
3What has surprised you about the move?: We’re still getting calls about where we went, and we moved just across the parking lot.
4What were the cases like in your first store?: Peter made the old showcases, he bought them from a going out of business sale and refinished them. He had three different types of showcases and somehow he made it all work. He was able to do things that I have to hire for. It helped us over the years grow the business.
5What set s you apart as a store?: Peter & Co. may have been started by a man, but I’ll tell you what — it is run by women. We have what women want. Our staff is 90 percent female, so we have a diverse collection of jewelry for all ages and personalities. We have a lot of pride in being able to deliver what women want. Having this marketing direction enables us to tailor messages and events to women and gives guys direction on where to find the perfect gift. We like jewelry and we love being here. We don’t even call it work. This is just what we do.