The Retail Evolution – Change and thrive, say these three businesses
Since 1950 Craig’s Fine Jewelry has maintained a reputation for fine-quality jewelry and impeccable service. Bill Craig, who has been a longtime driving force behind many downtown events, says, “I just love Main Street Ridgefield.” Yet even jewelry stores are not immune to the toll of Internet sales—recent trends indicate younger generations are buying fine pieces online. “We want to make local shopping relevant again by offering personal services you can’t get online,” says Craig’s VP and buyer Laura Verses.
Redesigns by Craig’s is a recent program to provide a service to customers. Redesign takes outdated or broken pieces and turns them into something current and wearable. “Everyone has jewelry sitting in a drawer. We want to give it a second life,” says Craig. Their design team will work with a customer to create a piece that fits their lifestyle. “We want to help the customer honor their past, by repurposing their future,” says client specialist Jen Whipple.
One recent customer is Diana Bunt, who inherited several pieces of jewelry from her mother and grandmother. They were somewhat dated but had great sentimental value to Bunt. Craig’s worked with Bunt to create several new pieces, some of which she will pass on to her children. “The rehabilitated jewelry, which I wear daily, is now fresh and stylish,” she says.
For the past ten years, Interiors and Designs by Ursula has offered interior decorating services and home décor. Owner Ursula Hanavan has established strong connections with her customers. “I strive to help people figure out their taste and select things that fit their lifestyle,” she says.” At the end of a project, their house needs to looks like they do.
Hanavan has forged such a close bond with some of her customers that they employed her talent to style not just their homes but major life events as well. She has assisted on the planning of several wedding receptions. “I’m not a wedding planner per se,” she says, “but for those families I was. I know them so well, I understood their vision.”
Ursula’s also offers personal shopping services to customers who are too busy to shop themselves or who are searching for specific items. Once Hanavan knows their style or size, she seeks out items that would fit their needs.
The “trinket and treasure” section of the store, which has always contained casual pieces of jewelry and clothing, now includes tasteful gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen. Next up for the store: wedding registries. “Couples are getting married at later points in their lives,” she says, “and are looking to register for more sophisticated, useful gifts.”
When Whitney Williams took over Squash’s Ridgefield Office Supply three years ago, she knew she wanted to make some changes. “I wanted to preserve the tradition of the store but breathe new life into it,” she says. The store, which celebrated its 65th anniversary, now is a thriving print center thanks to three new production machines. Copy shop manager Matt Bellagamba and Wendy Gagnon handle all the printing for many local business including ACT, Fairfield County Bank, and Ridgefield School of Dance. “We can do everything from brochures to business cards,” says Gagnon. They offer free in-town delivery service courtesy of a Squash’s van.
Squash’s is also gearing up for back-to-school shopping. Parents can order pre-packs specifically for their child’s elementary school and have them delivered for the first day. “People think we are more expensive, but our prices are very competitive,” says Williams.
Williams is constantly looking to improve and expand her inventory. The shelves are much more colorful and attractive now. “We have beautiful journals, cards, and stationery,” she says. She is also excited about bringing in art supplies. Coordinating with Founder’s Hall and the recently opened Ridgefield Pride Art Center, she plans on having in stock the necessary supplies for art classes. “We love our customers like family, and we want them to have a positive experience when they come in,” says Williams.