by Andrew Crisp
Downtown Boise's R. Grey Gallery, which specializes in handmade jewelry and art glass, has won in the 11th annual America's Coolest Stores competition put on by the retail and industry trade publication INSTORE Magazine.
Robert Grey Kaylor runs the store with his wife, Barbara. The New York magazine's panel of judges awarded R. Grey first place in the "small cool" division, for stores with five employees or less.
"They judge the facade of the store, the inside of your store, some stories about customer service and also product lines that you carry," said Kaylor. "Things that make you stand out in the industry."
Kaylor said R. Grey beat out 108 other applicants.
"We're pretty unique as far as who we carry. Most all of the work is hand-made, it's not mass-produced. Other than a couple jewelry lines from Germany and a couple from Canada, everything is made in the United States," said Kaylor.
The store's aesthetics were also a big part of the competition.
"We didn't have any visions of winning an award for it," said Kaylor. "But we wanted it to be over the top and something different than you'd ever seen."
Kaylor was also the winner of the prestigious Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award in 2011. He said recognition helped draw attention to the gallery.
"There's a lot of people who didn't know about the island of Idaho—as I like to call it—that found out about it because of that," he said.
The gallery plans to host a party on the evening of Friday, Sept. 14 to celebrate the new issue of INSTORE magazine, which features the couple on the cover. Kaylor said they'll have drinks, hors d'oeuvres and live music.
INSTORE has also sponsored an all-expenses paid trip for the couple to an upcoming event in Chicago to celebrate their title.