Today we’d like to introduce you to Todd Rauchwerger.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Todd. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
With what started out as a part time $3.50/hr. job for gas money to go on my advertising calls turned in to a 38 year career in specialty retailing in Miami & NYC.
After only 1 1/2 years, I became the general manager of the company assisting the owner with merchandising, marketing & expansion of the company in the Miami area with stores in Dadeland, Coconut Grove & the Bal Harbor Shops. In 1998 I bought out the owner to take J.W. COOPER in the direction I saw as the future for the brand.
In the world of fashion names being so prevalent in shopping centers throughout the country I had to make J.W. COOPER stand for something unique, inviting and having that WOW factor. Working with several accessory “artist” manufacturers I began to have merchandise made exclusively for the store with private labeling the J.W. COOPER brand. Even though the roots of the store is from a western fashion, a majority of the belt & buckles are made for exquisite design for a contemporary look.
In 2004 I expanded the company to a 2nd location to NYC where the store was located in the very best location in the Shops at Columbus Circle in Time Warner Building. We enjoyed 10 years of offering our unique merchandise until the lease expired in 2014. Rents were much too high, $1200-$1800 a square foot so I decided to put my full attention to my store in the Bal Harbour shops and expanded into a larger location in 2016.
2018 will be our 25th year anniversary of being in Bal Harbour where we have enjoyed a fine reputation for our unique offerings. Earlier this year in March we sold a 1998 Custom Harley Davidson that had Van Gogh’s Starry Night done in glass mosaic over the front & back fenders & on the gas tank. It now sits in a 40th floor, 3 story penthouse living room in South Beach.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Struggles along the way:
J.W. Cooper – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
When we re-located within the Bal Harbour Shops in 2015 a customer gave me an idea that I ran with. He said that when he wears our product or shows off some of the art pieces friends ask where he purchased it from and when he tells them about J.W. COOPER they’re intrigued to see more. So he suggested that I add “By Hand” to my logo so right away people will see that what we specialize in with our merchandise is that it’s handmade, one piece at a time.
This has also open up the store to artists that are looking to showcase their work. Being 1 of only 3 independents left in the center, I have the ability to bring in merchandise & art pieces that you won’t find anywhere else. I have a jeweler from Turkey that has the most unique jewelry pieces that you won’t see anything like in the other jewelry stores in the Bal Harbour Shops. The King of Morocco recently shopped with us & bought some pieces. This jeweler came into the store to take a look and we instantly saw where each other was coming from in what I love to showcase & what he loves to make.
What sets us apart is that J.W. COOPER is so unique. A majority of the other stores here in Bal Harbour have locations elsewhere in other cities, even in other location in Miami.
My merchandise is more limited and so many are one of a kind.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Having the location I was able to acquire & opening the store in NYC was a very big deal!
My wife, daughter and some friends came up for the large grand opening the Shops at Columbus Circle had with Cirque So Le, Jewel & Marc Anthony preforming. It was quite a night.
- Address: J.W. COOPER
Bal Harbour Shops
9700 Collins Avenue, 2nd Floor
Bal Harbour, FL 33154
- Website: www.jwcooper.com
- Phone: 305-861-4180
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: jwcooperbh
- Facebook: J.W. COOPER