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60-Minute Sale Creates Gold Rush for Illinois Jeweler

Diamond anniversary sale nets big profits for village jeweler.

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THERE WAS SQUEEZING-ROOM only inside suburban Chicago’s Linnea Jewelers when owner/master goldsmith Denise Oros changed the elements of her annual Ladies Night Out sale — and struck gold in the process. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of her La Grange, IL, store, Oros melded ladies night with a James Porte-copyrighted 60-minute, 60 percent off sale. Combined with a VIP event the night before, it allowed Oros to head to Vegas with nearly $100,000 in her pocket.

THE IDEA

Thanks For Your Loyalty

The idea happened organically — after Christmas, Oros’ accountant — and her CFO/husband — said she needed to reduce inventory.

She could sell to a liquidator, or she could unload the excess at cost to her best customers. Oros settled on Porte Marketing’s (portemarketing.com) 60 minutes/60 percent off sale and began planning.

Along the way, she decided to combine the clearance with her annual Ladies Night Out, a popular April event billed as a time to grab girlfriends, shake off winter doldrums and shop for something new.

“We presented it to our customers by saying: ‘You built this business, I would rather sell my inventory to you at cost to say thank you for your loyalty,’” Oros says.

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60-Minute Sale Creates Gold Rush for Illinois Jeweler

Customers waiting for the big event to begin.

THE EXECUTION

Building the Buzz

Preparations began two months in advance. Oros and staff adjusted the prices of old goods to ensure they would make cost — along with a small profit — at 60 percent off.

A month before the sale, supplies were delivered, a caterer and security were in place and extra staff and runners were scheduled.

Porte also sent vibrant window signs. At about the same time, customers received VIP Access to Ladies Night Out — scheduled for the evening before the sale was open to the public — via their inboxes.

From there, the buzz grew to a roar. “Wish lists were being built daily,” Oros says.

THE REWARDS

Fun, Frenzy, Funds

A crowd on ladies night is typical, but this time, women arrived hours in advance — books and coffee in tow to ease the wait. When doors opened, no one was prepared for the madhouse— even the cop hired for security seemed a bit overwhelmed.

By the time the public event began the next day, there was a process. Ten to 15 people were allowed in at once, with 30 people max.

When the numbers were tallied, the private sale had netted $68,000, while $29,000 came from the public event — $97,700 in just six hours.

“What has surprised me the most… was how much fun my customers had,” Oros says. “It was crazy busy, and customers loved it.”

Do It Yourself: Get Organized

  • Do homework: Oros spent a lot of time researching the 60/60 sale and talked with other retailers who used the format about how they prepared, executed and followed up. She explored all possible drawbacks.
  • Take advice — and liberties: Oros and her staff followed James Porte’s format and recommendations, but they tailored things to save time and money. For one, they didn’t offer complimentary services (sizings or customizing.) They also didn’t fully cater the event, offering only wine and cheese.
  • Get organized: During the sale, Oros’ staff used Tyvek wrist bands and clear poly bags numbered to match the wristbands. When shoppers chose a piece, it went in their bag, and a runner took it to the cashier. At checkout, cashiers had all the data for the transaction from an info sheet.

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SPONSORED VIDEO

When Sales Beat Projections, You Know Wilkerson Did Its Job

There are no crystal balls when it comes to sales projections. But when Thomasville, Georgia jeweler Fran Lewis chose Wilkerson to run the retirement/going-out-of-business sale for Lewis Jewelers and More, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that even Wilkerson could one-up its own sales numbers. “Not only did we meet our goal, but we exceeded the goal that Wilkerson had given us by about 134%,” she says. After more than 40 years in the business, Lewis says she decided a few years ago to “move towards retirement.” And she was impressed by Wilkerson’s tenure in the industry. Overall, she’d recommend the company to anyone else who may be thinking it’s time to hang up their loupe. “As a full package, they’ve done a very good job and I’d definitely recommend Wilkerson.”

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