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Tapper's growth concept includes lower-priced jewelry, hands-on 'pods'

Tapper's Fine Jewelry Inc.is hoping to broaden its customer base with the May 1 launch of a new fashion and jewelry store,Marlee's, at 12 Oaks Mall in Novi.

The family-owned company, which turns 35 this spring, is trying to attract younger customers and some of its current fine jewelry customers with the new store, offering one-of-a-kind artisan jewelry and accessories at prices ranging from $25 to $3,000.

Marlee's is named for Marla Tapper Young and Leora Tapper, the sister and wife, respectively, of Tapper's President Mark Tapper. They'll serve as buyers and stylists for the store.

"We're constantly looking at ways to kind of innovate the retail jewelry concept," Mark Tapper said.

The West Bloomfield Township-based company is investing $500,000-$750,000 in the store, he said.

"Hopefully, this is a concept that we can scale."

Marlee's is meant to be a fun place to shop, to be styled and accessorized. It will be "a little less serious than Tapper's" with a different type of merchandise, he said.

The 1,460-square-foot store will be smaller than other Tapper's stores. The company worked with Southfield-based retail consultantJGAInc.to come up with the brand strategy and prototype design for the new store.

Marlee's will include freestanding jewelry display "pods" without glass or barriers, so customers can touch the merchandise, Tapper said. Sales associates will be called stylists.

The store will also include a made-in-Michigan collection of jewelry and accessories.

Marlee's joinsTapper's Diamonds and Fine JewelryandTapper's Gold Exchangein the company and at 12 Oaks Mall.

Tapper's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry also has locations in West Bloomfield Township's Orchard Mall and Troy's Somerset North. Tapper's Gold Exchange has 13 stores in metro Detroit.

Tapper said he projects the company will bring in "north of $30 million" in revenue this year, up about 23 percent from 2011.

Tapper's appears to target a younger customer who might not be able to afford fine jewelry with the Marlee's concept, said Anthony Ahee, marketing director ofEdmund T. Ahee Jewelersin Grosse Pointe.

"What I see in the industry is either people purchase items that last a lifetime, or they're purchasing something on a costume level where they wear it once or twice with an outfit."

"There's always a demand for accessorizing ... (and) definitely a market there," Ahee said.

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Posted on 3/25/2012

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