Gift Store Owner Talks Nearly 20 Years of Success in Indy & Carmel Locations

Photographer: Ron Wise

Silver In The City provides the gifts everyone wants to give and receive.

A fun, funky boutique collection of handmade silver jewelry and an eclectic mix of interesting and unique items, where you will find just the right thing you didn’t know you were looking for.

Kristin Kohn is the visionary and energy behind Silver In The City. Calling herself the “Head Honcho”, she is passionate about bringing an interactive experience to shoppers as well as being a leader who takes great care of her staff.

Kohn opened her first store on Mass Ave in 2000.

“I created what I wanted for my own shopping experience,” she says.

While living in Baltimore and working an unpaid internship in her early 20’s, Kohn worked in a small, locally owned store in the South Point neighborhood. It gave her a taste of the street level retail experience, interacting with customers, that she found herself longing for while working in advertising for five years.

“I was so bored in a cubicle in an office building,” she says.

Kristin came to Indiana because of a Carmel connection.

“I had been living in Chicago, and a good friend from college was from Carmel,” she says. “She and her family took me in as part of their family.”

Kohn enjoyed weekend trips to the lake, holiday cookie parties and became part of a Carmel circle of friends.

“Everyone was so warm and open and friendly,” she says. “They were so inviting, it made moving to Indiana an unexpected but very easy decision.”

Friends, family and the store owner she worked for in Baltimore all encouraged her to open the store she kept dreaming about. The store owner became her mentor, and she followed his path to success by starting with the same silver jewelry concept.

“He gave me a list of 10 things to do,” she says, including things like opening a bank account and applying for a tax identification number.

Silver In The City was very popular from the start in the downtown location. After starting with silver jewelry, she very quickly expanded into home décor, furnishings, wall art and gifts and soon tripled the size of her store.

“People were hungry for something fun, interesting, different, unique,” Kohn says.

Part of what made it work was the fact that Mass Ave was quickly becoming a go-to shopping destination.

Because of the joint relationship between Mass Ave and Main Street Carmel, Silver In The City participated in pop up shops for two holiday seasons before adding a permanent location in Carmel in 2015.

“Similar to when I first opened on Mass Ave, I had incredible support from the people who lived near the Arts and Design district in Carmel,” Kohn says. “They were so excited to have a gift store.”

It was something they wanted for their community and local shoppers were enthusiastic and generous.

“Both locals and tourists love coming to the store, and we have many regulars,” Kohn says. “Some have even followed us from downtown. And it has been fun to be a part of the buzz of energy and revitalization of the tourist area and Arts and Design district.”

Silver In The city now employs between 40-45 employees and up to 50 during the holidays.

Expanding to Carmel has also been good to give more business to their makers and designers.

“It’s fun to realize what a big difference that makes for them too,” Kohn says. “I could almost double my business with them by opening a second store and that has been exciting to pass our success to our makers.”

Kohn is passionate about providing a great place to work for her employees, so they too can enjoy the “lovely work life balance” she has created for herself. And while she loves it all— buying new merchandise, setting up displays, and providing interactive shopping experiences — what she loves most is sharing a sense of discovery with her customers.

“I get to buy the things I fall in love with, and I get really excited when my customers fall in love with them, too,” she says.

Silver In The City is located at 111 W Main Ave #150 in Carmel or downtown at 434 Massachusetts Ave, Indianapolis. You can give them a call at 317-993-3669 or visit them online at silverinthecity.com for more information.