Craft jewelry

If I Owned a Jewelry Store…

I’d want it to be an extraordinarily different kind of jewelry store.  I’d want it located on an active ‘Main Street’ surrounded by other extraordinary shops, boutiques, pubs, restaurants and other places that attract guests with fun things to do and see.  I’d want my store to be an exciting place where people can experience jewelry shopping in a brand new way.  I’d make my jewelry shop POP!

This article first appeared in INSTORE magazine May-June 2017 issue

By following the principles outlined in my book, Shops that POP!, I understand that retail today has evolved from a product business to a people business.   When people simply want a product, they can get it ‘internet-easy.’  Going shopping today is a choice, no longer a necessity.  So I’d organize my jewelry store to make the shopping experience rewarding, engaging and personally satisfying.  Surely, I’d want to have cool jewelry, but I know that the success of my jewelry store will hinge not on WHAT I sell, but HOW I sell it.  That means putting the people in the store, both the shoppers and the staff, first.  In other words, the product follows, not leads.

My plan to open a jewelry store starts with the 3 Rs – Research the opportunity; Reimagine what a wonderful jewelry shopping experience should be; and Recruit the right people to populate my store, both customers and staff.   Let’s break the 3 Rs plan down:

  • Research the Opportunity

Market research is the first step in planning a store that will be successful.  It needs to be located where there is plenty of traffic, and not just any traffic, but the right kind of traffic – where the affluent shoppers in the community are drawn.  Jewelry is the ultimate luxury since nobody needs any of it, so the place where my jewelry store will be must be in a place that luxury-inclined affluent shoppers congregate.

I’d research the direct jewelry store competition, conducting discreet secret-shopper research, browsing the stores, interacting with the staff and generally studying what those stores are doing right and wrong.  I’d be vigilant to record my first impressions from the door and my findings throughout each competitor study so I can review my observations later and strategize how I can do it better.

I’d also take every opportunity to talk to people in the community who look like the kind of shoppers I want to attract.  I’d identify them by their distinctive jewelry and chat them up, starting with compliments on their jewelry to lead to deeper discussion about where they found it and what makes it a special jewelry piece they love to wear.  As a researcher, I find most people are more than willing to share if you approach them with authentic interest.

  • Reimagine What a Wonderful Jewelry Shopping Experience Should Be

Everybody has an expectation of what a jewelry store looks like and how to navigate within a traditional jewelry store environment.  But to create an extraordinarily different jewelry shopping experience, I’d throw the traditional jewelry store model out the window and start with a clean slate.

I’d look outside to get inspiration for distinctive ways to merchandize and display jewelry.  Art galleries present interesting ways to get jewelry out of the traditional glass counter displays and up on the walls to put jewelry at eye level.  This is an innovative model that the Hearts on Fire diamond boutiques are doing with cases mounted on the walls.  NYC-based Doyle & Doyle, a jewelry store profiled in Shops that POP!, does much the same thing, displaying its vintage jewelry pieces in picture frames on the walls so that shoppers can get up close and personal to examine the heirloom pieces at eye-level.  Plus framing the jewelry elevates the piece from simply an object to a piece of art.

Home décor stores also inspire new display ideas.  They make maximum use of color in their displays.  Traditional jewelry stores tend to arrange displays by gem stones, but I’d use a color-wheel concept to display jewelry.  Jewelry shoppers may not know specific gem stones, especially men looking for a gift, but they do know color, so I’d arrange my wall-mounted jewelry cases to make the most impact of color, blue stones, purple stones, clear stones, yellow, red stones displayed together with low, mid and high-priced jewelry featured in one wall mounted display.

In merchandising my jewelry store I’d steer clear of the name brands, favoring hand-crafted jewelry collections from jewelry artisans.  This will give me unique stories to tell about each special jewelry piece, stories about who crafted it and their inspiration in its creation.  In this way the jewelry artisan becomes ‘hero,’ and the jewelry piece becomes a way the customer can share in the artisan’s creative expression when buying that special piece.

  • Recruit the Right People to Populate the Store

Because retail is primarily a people, not a product, business, the people part of the business is where I will focus my attention, both to attract customers and staff to service them.  First, I would hire the right people to help me operate the store.  I would look for genuinely warm, friendly, open and people-pleasing people.  I wouldn’t worry about jewelry sales experience, since that can be taught, but people either have the essential qualities of warmth and genuine friendliness that will make the store successful or they don’t, so that is what I would look for.

The next priority is attracting customers to my shop.  Being located in a high traffic area, I am assured of being noticed by passersby, but the only way to guarantee people will come in is to be open when people are passing by, that means being open evenings when the pubs and restaurants are busy.

For my store’s opening, I’d make the whole first month, not just a day or week, my focus with special events to attract jewelry enthusiasts.  I’d buy a list of affluent, higher-income women in my area (HHI $100K+) and mail a postcard invitation to announce the opening.  Then I will be vigilant to collect contact information for all my guests, offering a weekly raffle to giveaway a special jewelry piece throughout the month.

Finally, to keep the excitement going, I’d host monthly gallery openings showcasing one artisan’s special collection.  As critical partners in my business, I would do everything possible to forge a connection between my artisans and my customers.

In this way, I would put the people first in my jewelry shop – all the people that impact my business, i.e. staff, customers and artisans creating the wonderful jewelry I sell.  That is how I would make my jewelry shop POP!