AUGUST 2014 / THE MAGAZINE FOR THE AMERICAN JEWELRY STORE OWNER
BIG COOL NO. 2G. THRAPP JEWELERSBIG COOL NO. 3MERVIS DIAMOND IMPORTERSBIG COOL NO. 4FELDMAR WATCH COMPANYBIG COOL NO. 5THE WEDDING RING SHOP
SMALL COOL NO. 2KELLY
MITCHELLSMALL COOL NO. 3
BRUNO FINE JEWELERS
SMALL COOL NO. 4GEM JEWELRY
BOUTIQUESMALL COOL NO. 5
ARTFUL EYE JEWELRY
SMALL COOL NO. 1
BIG COOL NO. 1
Jay Klos of Grogan Jewelers and Laura
Mapes and David Iler of Alchemy
SMALL COOL NO. 2
BIG COOL NO. 2
G. THRAPP JEWELERS
BIG COOL NO. 3
MERVIS DIAMOND IMPORTERS
SMALL COOL NO. 3
BRUNO FINE JEWELERS
BIG COOL NO. 4
FELDMAR WATCH COMPANY
SMALL COOL NO. 4
GEM JEWELRY BOUTIQUE
BIG COOL NO. 5
THE WEDDING RING SHOP
SMALL COOL NO. 5
ARTFUL EYE JEWELRY DESIGN CENTERALCHEMY
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NO. 1SMALL COO
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O ne things for sure: Larry Brunos decision to build a destination store in Northwestern Pennsylvania has left him with an endless supply of interesting and unlikely stories to share with customers.When Bruno thought about having a destination store, he had not really imagined being off the beaten path. But when his real estate agent found him seven acres in the middle of nowhere he was intrigued.He said, Larry, how would you like to have a waterfall? I
was shocked. I didnt know about this waterfall. I lived on the other side of the county, Bruno recalls.
Often Larrys wife, Linda, looks at him like hes nuts when he proposes an offbeat scheme, but this time she was as enchanted
LOCATION: Mercer, PA | URL: brunojewelry.com | OWNER: Larry Bruno | FOUNDED: 1981 | OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2009 | AREA: 3,000 square feet | ARCHITECT: Ligo Architects of Slippery Rock, PA | BUILDOUT COST: $1.1 million | EMPLOYEES: 2 | TOP LINES: Hearts On Fire, Gottlieb & Sons, Mark Schneider Design, LeVian, Ironmasters Gem, Pandora, Lafonn, Colore/SG, Imperial Pearls, Pascal Pearls, Suna Bros. | ONLINE PRESENCE: 177 Facebook likes; 5 stars on Yelp; Alexa global rank: 6.29 millionOW
T H I R D P L AC ESMALL COOL DIVISION
BRUNO FINE JEWELERS
STORY BYE I L E E N
M C C L E L L A N D
The main showroom at Brunos overlooks a waterfall and Civil War-era ironworks historical site.
as he with the waterfall on seven acres. Funny enough, she liked the plan, too, Larry says. Were cut from the same cloth. She said, That looks wonderful, and so, she was on board.
He knew all along what he didnt want. Hed already had that.
From very early on in the business, I thought jew-elry stores were the same old thing, Bruno says. If they were downtown locations, they all looked the same. If they were in strip plazas, they all looked the same.
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Bruno studied at Bowman Technical School in Lan-caster, PA, learning jewelry repair, stone setting and hand engraving in the 70s. He worked as an appren-tice, graduated to his own trade shop and opened his first jewelry store in 1981 in Hermitage, PA. After the demise of the steel mills in Western Pennsylvania deci-mated the local economy, he began thinking he needed more of a regional store.
He admits to some apprehension about buying the land, but the plan wasnt as outlandish as it first seemed. Although the property is off the main road, it is just a couple of miles from Grove City Outlet Mall, which attracts 6 to 8 million visitors annually, many of them from Toronto, Canada. There are also three highly regarded restaurants in the neighborhood. His store is between the mall and the restaurants.
Bruno soon found out his property has more than a waterfall on it. It is the site of the Historic Springfield Iron Furnace, which operated from 1837 to 1862.
John White, a pro-fessor from Youngs-town State University in Youngstown, OH, proposed excavating the historical iron furnace he knew was buried on Brunos newly purchased land. Although some friends and advisers thought the decision was
ill-advised, Bruno was so curious about the project that he not only agreed to allow the dig, but he joined the ex-cavation team in 2007 before the store was built, help-ing haul rocks two days a week work he describes as brutal. You couldnt hire someone to do that, he says. The dig continues even now, and Bruno thinks its good for business.
When Bruno began building the store, laid out to
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SIRIUS RADIOS SPA STATION. Its nice background music that actually works with the setting. Playing rock in here or country or jazz, sort of doesnt work. It doesnt go with what youre looking at. Larry Bruno
P L AY L I S T
JEWELRY STORES CAN BE STUFFY AND INTIMIDATING. PEOPLE TEND TO GET FUNNY NERVOUS OR APPREHENSIVE. NATURE CAN TAKE SOME OF THAT AWAY, AND THIS VIEW IS BEAUTIFUL. LARRY BRUNO
The diamond cases were created by a local
woodworker using a 19th century design.
overlook the waterfall, he had recently seen a documen-tary about Frank Lloyd Wright and so was interested in having the store blend organically with the natural en-vironment and not stand out like a shiny new penny.
He incorporated stone from the furnace found in the dig that was originally quarried from the property. He also knew he wanted to open up the store with win-dows looking out onto the waterfall. Jewelry stores can be stuffy and intimidating. People tend to get funny nervous or apprehensive, Bruno says. Nature can take some of that away, and this view is beautiful. I felt it would create a unique experience.
When people open those doors, they do say Wow. Bruno says. They are blown away by the view. I was a little bit worried that they would just go to the windows,
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Onyx-like slag from the old steelworks nearby has been recut and used for a unique line of jewelry sold at the store.
Andrew McQuilken: Take the classic high-end jewelry gallery and drop it into the heart of nature. I feel as if I have been invited into their living room, with the benefit of spectacular woodland views.
Cindy Edelstein: Of course the waterfall is the most outstanding feature but to truly make it special to their clients the events and engagement photos are a great idea. Taking a feature and turning it into a benefit is what good marketing is all about.
Danielle Miele: Ive never met a jewelry store where you can buy an engagement ring and feel like you should have your wedding on site because it is so beautiful! The waterfall really sets this jewelry store apart from others and the lush greenery of the outside as well!
Leslie McGwire: The archi-tectural features of the building are warm and inviting for the clients. The use of natural ma-terials inside and out helps with the overall environment with the warm and inviting feelings of the store. The focal points are the windows that look out to nature and the pine fireplace mantel that is 200 years old. The hand-painted mural gives the interior a unique touch of history. The lighting is bright and shows off the overall space very nice. The warm colors from the walls, to the wood on the cases, to the carpet all create a classical image.
David Geller: The interior is beautiful and overlooking nature and the waterfall is wonderful. The story is great, and I love the cut glass from the forge and slag of the factory.
S C O R E C A R D
W H AT T H E J U D G E S S AY
but they come to shop for jewelry, too.Ligo Architects of Slippery Rock, PA, even created a
circular viewing room jutting out as close to the gorge as possible. Oak crown molding runs throughout the store, but since it would have been expensive to cus-tom make crown molding for the curved viewing space, Bruno instead commissioned an artist to create a mural depicting what the area would have looked like in 1850, during the heyday of the iron furnace.
For the center island, Bruno refurbished oak cases he had made for his old store by adding leather tufting on the outside of them to add character and vintage charm. The color of the tufting matches the color of the carpeting. For the diamond cases, he commissioned his neighbor, an antique dealer and woodworker to craft new cases from a 19th century design.
Opening the store in 2009, of course, right when the economy went into the tank, wasnt the best timing in an area already decimated by the demise of huge steel mills.
That took the wind out of our sails. We were adver-tising a new store and expecting huge things, Bruno says.
He advertised on billboards, in newspapers, in mag-azines and on television; hes also ventured into social media. One complication is that he has to advertise on Youngstown, OH, TV stations to reach shoppers in his county in Pennsylvania.
But the best way to get the word out is by word of mouth.
Having something like this, when people have rela-tives in from out of town, they bring them here and show them something unique. The view, the history, it helps.
Ive simply allowed nature, history and romance to be part of the jewelry buying experience.
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5 COOL THINGS
1. ITS R OM ANTIC.Bridal is Brunos strongest niche and he