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A Lofty Idea

Family’s first freestanding store combines boutique ambience with expansive collections.



Tapper’s Jewelry, Novi, MI

OWNERS: Mark Tapper, Leora Tapper, Marla Tapper Young; URL:; FOUNDED: 1977; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2023; AREA: 10,000 square feet; ARCHITECT AND DESIGN: JGA, Sachse, Gi els Webster; TOP BRANDS: Rolex, Tudor, David Yurman, Cartier, Breitling, Bulgari, Omega, Panerai, IWC, Grand Seiko, Tag Heuer, Lagos, Mikimoto, Roberto Coin, Marco Bicego, John Hardy, Gucci, Pomellato, Shinola, Casio G-Shock, Charles Krypell, Bellarri, Eriness, Julez Bryant, Maria Tash, Pasquale Bruni, Spinelli Kilcollin, Suzanne Kalan, Tateossian, Temple St. Clair, Walters Faith, Zoe Chicco; EMPLOYEES: 111 full-time; 43 part-time; ONLINE PRESENCE: 4.4 Stars on Facebook; 17,300 Instagram followers

Mark Tapper, Leora Tapper, Marla Tapper Young

Mark Tapper, Leora Tapper, Marla Tapper Young

Tapper’s new store has a remarkable floor plan — one that you won’t find on the original blueprint.

When Tapper’s president, Mark Tapper, began planning for the family business’s first freestanding store, it was supposed to be a spacious, one-story structure, divided into two halves, which during the planning stage seemed huge.

But when Tapper’s watch and jewelry brand partners became excited about the project, brand requirements and expectations began to soar, making that sprawling space suddenly seem cramped.

Tapper’s First Freestanding Location Features a Diamond LoftTapper’s First Freestanding Location Features a Diamond Loft
Tapper’s First Freestanding Location Features a Diamond LoftTapper’s First Freestanding Location Features a Diamond Loft

“Unlike being in a mall where there’s infinite space to take over another area, we’re landlocked,” he says.

Since they couldn’t make the first level larger, Tapper and the project’s architects began to look up. That idea led to a second-floor space known as the Diamond Loft, an all-encompassing environment for diamonds and bridal. What started out as a necessity became an exceptional space.

It’s private, quiet and intimate with two salons and an ample lounge.

“It takes away a lot of the pressure, the hustle and bustle of people being around or looking at other categories, and has created an environment of intimacy,” Tapper says.


Throughout the store there are multiple private shopping lounges, a bar and a snack area that includes TVs.

Although a freestanding store had not been a goal, per se, the new store turned out to be a good opportunity. “This area in our city has been neglected in terms of independent retailers and freestanding stores, and we thought the area deserved something of this nature and stature,” Tapper says.

It was also a way to take more control of the environment. “We saw the opportunity to curate our own luxury campus from the second the customer drives onto the property.”

There is a downside to a standalone store, though, Tapper says. “Managing your own building takes a different skill set and sense of patience.

I’ve had conversations I’ve never had to be engaged in, about landscaping, locks and snow removal. I thought it would be more glamorous!”

Since it opened, the store has exceeded expectations on all levels. Traffic is up 30% over projections, and conversion up 50%.

Tapper’s First Freestanding Location Features a Diamond Loft

The goal of the design of Tapper’s 2018 America’s Coolest Store, in Troy, MI, was to create more intimacy. That’s a theme on which the Novi location expanded. Six customer lounges in this store create more of a boutique shopping experience while the overall space still allows a wealth of inventory.

“Everything is about access and ease to the customer, so they want to be at the store and have repeat visits,” Tapper says. “That’s really what the whole experience is about for us. Create a comfortable and inviting environment for our guests that allows sales associates to do what they do best.”

Being out of the mall also means that the Novi store is their first that has natural light, with about 35 feet of glass in the front. They made sure the lighting component throughout the store didn’t fight with the natural light and that UV filtration was in place.

“We like having organic and natural materials and elements in the store. For us, it’s about knowing our market, knowing how to create a luxurious environment that is not ostentatious. Having that balance can be somewhat of a challenge.”

Tapper’s has a Guest Experience lead present at all times to ensure visitors are receiving an exceptional experience.

That exceptional experience includes treating guests with “surprise and delight gifts” just because, or to celebrate special occasions through a program called Treated by Tapper’s. The team has access to giveaway items such as champagne flutes, beer mugs, portable chargers, themed baby onesies, a child’s first necklace and more. “We use these items to create an experience that a guest will remember forever,” Tapper says.

The children’s jewelry, stainless steel bracelets and necklaces in a Tapper’s box, is designed to win customers for life. The gift goes a long way with the parents as well.

Tapper’s First Freestanding Location Features a Diamond Loft

Store designers also took advantage of the store’s placement near an expressway to make sure it would stand out as a landmark. In a pop-out structure at the top of the building, a special lighting feature can be animated and curated for any occasion: Red for Valentine’s Day; green and white for Michigan State and blue and yellow for University of Michigan, for example. If there’s a special event planned with a watch brand, the brand’s colors can be illuminated.

“It brings attention to the building and makes sure the building is refreshing itself in different ways,” Tapper says.

The debut of the new store coincided with a move from a campaign-based marketing approach to an always-on-approach to continue to grow brand awareness. “We realized that the best way to continue to build our brand was to keep Tapper’s top of mind,” Tapper says.

“We also realize that the omnichannel guest experience is important, as the first place many guests interact with us is our website. We put a huge emphasis on bringing our brand to life in the digital space so that it aligns with the in-store experience.”

Traditional marketing is also effective for Tapper’s, particularly the radio campaign that runs 365 days a year with a focus on brand-building through origin stories of the business as well as through interactions between Mark Tapper and a fictitious character, Sir Richard Poshingham.

The store’s grand opening was the largest event in Tapper’s 45-year history as well as the most financially successful. Music, food, signature cocktails, 360-degree cameras and a valet all made it especially memorable.

“People like a nice party and they were curious to see the store,” Tapper says.

Even the most far-flung Tapper’s stores are just 20 minutes apart, so the family has built a loyal client base in a relatively compact area over 45 years. “So everyone came to see the new building, support our family and sales team and see what was different,” he says.

Tapper’s First Freestanding Location Features a Diamond Loft

Giveaways include not only branded swag, but also a variety of gifts, which are part of a program called Treated by Tapper’s.

Five Cool Things About Tapper’s Jewelry

1. RISKING IT ALL. Newly married, baby on the way, company founder Howard Tapper borrowed money from his family and sold his car to raise the funds to open his first jewelry store. He sketched the floor plan on a scrap piece of paper. And then he bought his first inventory on credit as well. On the first day of business, he managed to sell $1,025, enough to pay that first month’s rent.

2. DEAD ZONE STRATEGY. Tapper’s uses heat mapping to identify high traffic areas and dead zones in the store. Instead of installing lower-priced merchandise in dead zones, they’ve added destination merchandise like religious jewelry or studs, making what would be a dead zone into a profit center.

3. COMPANY CULTURE. In 2022, Tapper’s was one of only two retailers in the region named one of the best places to work by the Detroit Free Press after being nominated by the team. Once a quarter, the stores close to plan a social activity outside of work, to encourage camaraderie. They’ve rented out a bowling alley, hosted an event at Top Golf and thrown a company picnic for employees and their families with food trucks and clowns. “The emphasis we put into building culture and fostering a team environment has paid off in terms of our associates,” Tapper says.


4. COAT DRIVE. Tapper’s biggest community initiative is the Coat Drive. The team works throughout the year to gather monetary and coat donations. The money is used to buy new coats for families in need. Each Tapper’s store has a collection box, and they partner with other local businesses to collect as well. The coats are distributed to 20-plus local charities.

5. THE TAPPER’S WAY. Tapper’s launched a weekly fundamentals program called “The Tapper’s Way,” actions and behaviors designed to reinforce the company’s core values. Each week, a fundamental is introduced and discussed during every team meeting. One team member is also asked to highlight the fundamental through a video that is shared company-wide. Some examples are: Deliver Legendary Service, Make it Happen, Celebrate Success, Get Better Every Single Day, Let Your Kindness Shine, Assume Positive Intent, Go the Extra Mile, Be a Great Teammate, Keep Things Fun.


  • Jesse Balaity: I like the variety of experiences within this massive store. I feel like I could visit a dozen times and still find new areas to explore, new ways to experience the store.
  • JACKIE BROOKS:Love Sir Richard Poshingham! The exterior of the store was my favorite — absolutely breathtaking.
  • GABRIELLE GRAZI: The origin story is priceless and played well with the marketing strategy infused into tag lines like “Help Mark find his dad’s Cutlass.” The exceptional level of detail across the entire consumer journey whether online or in store can only be attained by the values instilled and the culture that has ensued. The Diamond Journey display case is both imaginative and educational for the consumer
  • LARRY JOHNSON:The interior of this store is beautiful. It provides a lovely place to shop.
  • REBECCA RAU:It sounds like a very supportive environment for the Tapper’s team. I love the dedication to continuous learning and training. Seems ripe for further growth. Kudos.
  • MEG TERRY:The entry feature of this store is very nice and the lighting is done well. The cases are nicely executed and airy.


Try This: Bingo!

One Tapper’s tradition started at closing time years ago, when the team would play bingo on Saturdays. The goal was to end the week on a positive note and put a little cash in team members’ hands for the weekend. Even with multiple locations, the tradition lives on, and the team plays bingo at all company meetings. They still can win cash, and it is still a tradition that the team loves.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.



Why This Jeweler Chose Wilkerson

Mark Lauer is the owner of Mark Michael Diamond Designs, the Minnesota-based jewelry gallery known for exceptional and uniquely designed diamond jewelry. Though he loved creating the beautiful jewelry his business was known for, retirement was an exciting alternative to the 60+ hours a week he’d spent building it up. He called Wilkerson to help with a retirement sale. “I did talk to two other companies, but I just didn’t feel they offered the same services that Wilkerson did,” he says. “I knew Wilkerson had the expertise to follow through and give me the service and results that I wanted. They’re the number one rock stars in this industry.”

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