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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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When Tom Moses decided to close one of the two Moses Jewelers stores in western Pennsylvania, it was time to call in the experts. After reviewing two candidates, Moses, a co-owner of the 72 year-old business, decided to go with Wilkerson. The sale went better than expected. Concerned about running it during the pandemic, Moses says it might have helped the sale. “People wanted to get out, so there was pent-up demand,” he says. “Folks were not traveling so there was disposable income, and we don’t recall a single client commenting to us, feeling uncomfortable. It was busy in here!” And perhaps most importantly, Wilkerson was easy to deal with, he says, and Susan, their personal Wilkerson consultant, was knowledgeable, organized and “really good.” Now, the company can focus on their remaining location — without the hassle of carrying over merchandise that either wouldn’t fit or hadn’t sold. “The decision to hire Wilkerson was a good one,” says Moses.

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