LEDs serve as an ideal solution for turning up the dazzle in a jewelry store chain.
When you’re in the business of selling really expensive sparkly things, you need them to look incredibly beautiful. The Riddle family has had more than 50 years of success in the jewelry industry, opening its first store in 1959 in Webster, South Dakota. A full-service jewelry store, Riddle’s offers a large selection of loose diamonds, engagement rings, wedding sets, anniversary bands, gemstone jewelry, 14 karat gold, watches, and Black Hills gold – plus an on-site skilled goldsmith offers quick turnaround on jewelry and watch repairs and custom design capabilities.
The retailer – which prides itself on offering a warm, friendly shopping atmosphere with exceptional customer service – had relied on halogen bulbs to highlight the jewelry on display. However, the opportunity to save 20-25 percent in lighting costs while giving the jewelry added pop through LED lighting was too good to pass up.
Riddle’s Jewelry is now in the process of replacing all of the halogen bulbs in its 57 locations throughout nine states with LED retrofits. “We began researching LED jewelry store lighting about five years ago and got really serious about two years ago when Dakota Supply Group introduced us to GE Lighting,” explains Dan Casanova, vice president of Riddle’s. “After looking at a number of options, GE’s LED replacement lamps offered the best combination of energy savings and the best look for our merchandise once it’s out of the cases.”
The Big Pay-Off
Each Riddle’s Jewelry location utilizes 80 to 210 75-watt halogen spotlights, depending on store size. Those will be replaced by 20-watt PAR38 LED replacement lamps from GE ecomagination?. Working with Dakota Supply Group, Riddle’s has made the switch in 47 stores so far and plans to complete the project in the next few months.
The switch has already been paying off. At Riddle’s locations that have used the LED lamps for more than one year, the stores have seen lighting energy cost savings between $100 and $150 a month in smaller stores (80-100 fixtures) and from $175 to $225 in larger stores (up to 210 fixtures), based on a $.10 per kWh rate and 4,000 hours of operation annually.
These savings are also the result of reduced loads on the buildings’ cooling systems. Each Riddle’s store – even those in colder climates – typically runs its air conditioning throughout the year because of the heat generated by in-store halogen lighting. The LED lamps stay much cooler than its halogen predecessors, and although Riddle’s has not yet recorded exact load reductions, its store managers have reported a noticeable decrease in the cooling demand on HVAC units.
Once all 57 locations are complete, Riddle’s expects to save about $100,000 a year in lighting energy costs – not including reduced maintenance as the result of longer-lived LED technology. The retailer also said it plans to specify LED lamps for all jewelry store lighting projects moving forward.
Beyond cost savings, Casanova has been impressed by how the new lamps make merchandise sparkle. “Store managers have been amazed by the way the bright, white LED lighting accentuates the natural brilliance of the diamonds. With halogen, they looked good; but with LED, they look amazing,” he adds.
A Little Help From Friends
GE Lighting and Dakota Supply assisted Riddle’s in analyzing rebate opportunities from local utilities for each store, and then applying for the rebates as roll-outs occurred. At the Rapid City, S.D., Riddle’s received a rebate of $11.25 per lamp. At a store in Minnesota, Xcel Energy provided a rebate of $27 per lamp.
“We operate in markets that have fairly low energy costs, but the return on investment is still good. With rebates, we expect a 14-month ROI per store. In markets with no rebates, the payback becomes 20 to 22 months, which is still a good return,” Casanova remarks.
Riddle’s is also retrofitting parabolic lenses in the store walkways, moving from 32-watt fluorescent lamps to 25-watt T8 lamps. And based on the success Riddle’s has achieved to date, the retailer is considering switching from fluorescent to LED lighting in its display cases as well.
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