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7 Jewelers Share Their Fun Approaches to Dressing for the Holiday

In touch with their inner elves, jewelers dress the part for fun and profit.

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This story was originally published in the October 2017 edition of INSTORE.

HOLIDAY OUTFITS appeal to some jewelry retailers and appall others, who consider them a slippery slope toward total tackiness.

To Jennifer Farnes of Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO, dressing up is just not worth the effort: “Too busy to worry about that! Take a shower, wear clean clothes, survive Christmas,” she says. But Nicole Shannon of Keir Fine Jewelry in Whistler, British Columbia, says wearing tacky Christmas sweaters from a shop next door actually saves time, since staff members can grab sweaters from a communal bin on the run, rather than worry about their wardrobes.

Others swear by a show-off-the-jewels approach. “I encourage my staff to wear our jewelry during the holiday season,” says Marc Majors of Samuel L. Majors Fifth Generation Jewelers in Midland, TX. “It’s much more personal when it’s on someone and not a prop, and 99 percent of the time it closes the sale.”

Read on for a range of wardrobe ideas intended to break the ice with customers and bolster staff morale.


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Let the Tipsy Elves Break the Ice
Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers, Billings, MT

Edgy holiday-themed suits purchased from a company called Tipsy Elves make a statement on December Saturdays at Scott and Kelly Wickam’s store. “It actually made for a great selling day last year,” Scott,  at left, says. “It showed that we are not just stuffy jewelers trying to sell you something. We love what we do and we have fun doing it.” The suits cost $80 to $100 each. “For the money, they fit nice and look great,” he says. 


The Tie Guy
Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI

For John Hayes of Goodman’s Jewelers in Madison, WI, it’s all about the ties. “I have a collection of holiday ties and wear a different one each day from Thanksgiving to Jan. 1. I always start with Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.” He has 38 and counting, although some have fallen apart after 25 years of collecting. 


The Sweater Fest
Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT

Jennifer Hornik Johnson says the whole staff at Miller’s participates in the annual Ugly Sweater Party in December. The store offers a 10 percent discount to any customers brave enough to wear their own ugly items to the event.


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Don’t Be Afraid to Live in the Past
Cornerstone Jewelry & Engraving, Palos Park, IL

At Cornerstone Jewelry & Engraving, owner Bryan Blaha and team believe “Old Jewelers Have Old Souls.” To enhance their theme, they ramp up their sartorial savvy for the holiday season with bow ties, vests, hairstyles and facial hair that evoke the early 20th century. “We tend to dress to the ‘9s,” says manager Ryan C. Karp. “Like the 1909s.” It leaves a lasting impression on clients, together with incense, old-school holiday music, classic decor and demonstrations. 


Make a Statement With the LBD
K Hollis Jewelers, Batavia, IL

Black is never basic at K Hollis Jewelers, where Karen Hollis, center, and her staff feel confident wearing their little black dresses for holiday events. “It shows a level of class that makes my staff get noticed,” Hollis says. “Jewelry really stands out on black, and it’s fun to wear a bigger diamond or more expensive items for holiday parties.”


Family Morphs Into Elves!
Perry’s Emporium, Wilmington, NC

“I made my sons dress up in elf outfits for an after-Christmas ad on TV,” says owner Alan Perry. In the commercial, Perry says he’s leaving the store till next year. His sons say, “We’ll show him! Come in now and get up to 50 percent off until Jan. 15!” Perry admits he had to pay his sons to be elves, though.


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If You Are the Designated Elf, Be a Good Sport
Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA

Owner Andrea Riso isn’t above dressing up. “I look like a super giant idiot as an elf, but I’m a good sport about it because it makes sales spike and it’s fun.” Sales associate Becca Souders, pictured, picked up the elf outfits at Fredericks of Hollywood. “It worked, sales and morale-wise,” Riso says.


This article originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of INSTORE.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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Jimmy DeGroot

Be Ready for ‘What Do You Have for $100?’ and Other Holiday Questions

As Christmas approaches, the queries you’ll hear from customers are actually pretty predictable, says jewelry store training expert Jimmy DeGroot. Here's how to make sure your team is prepared for the more common ones.

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Benchmarks

These Jeweler Direct Mail Samples Shine Bright for the Holidays

Use these direct mail pieces as inspiration to create your own attention-getting holiday promotions.

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DIRECT MAIL is a great holiday marketing tool, as it lets you reach out specifically to your biggest and best customers, hitting them with invitations to swanky Christmas parties, wish lists to be filled out and returned, and discounts or gift cards for that perfect present. (You can also track it more easily than other advertising media, by instructing recipients to bring in the mailing to receive whatever the special offer is.) At the same time, we’re on the verge of the postal service’s busiest season of the year, so whatever you send needs to get noticed. And the examples we’ve collected here are harder to miss than Rudolph’s nose or, say, a bright star shining over a manger.


So Fresh, So Clean Shetler Wade Jewelers, San Antonio, TX

This snappy postcard alerts customers to a neat idea: a post-holiday “3-Day Detox Customer Appreciation Sale,” scheduled for the end of January, when things have settled down and it’s time to go through your inventory and get rid of some dogs. The layout is appropriately clean, signaling a new start to the year and nice deals for shoppers.

No Frills, No Nonsense Schmitt Jewelers, Phoenix, AZ

As Schmitt Jewelers reminds us, your holiday invite doesn’t have to shout “HOLIDAYS!” — it just has to snag the attention of your would-be customer. The strong, solid colors of the invitations for the store’s December “Shop Like a Man” promotion promised beer, food, and a straightforward gift-buying experience for red-blooded American guys.

Three Times the FunGUNDERSON’S JEWELERS, IA, NE AND SD

This Christmas party invitation is strikingly gorgeous, stands out by not relying on a typical holiday palette, showcases some beautiful jewelry, and serves as three invites in one, for soirees at Gunderson’s locations in three different states. Plus, it conveys a ton of information, including the designers who will be present at the events, in a markedly clear fashion.


Two Eyes Not Made Out of Coal Wixon Jewelers, Bloomington,

With its strong, contrasting colors and clever mix of snowman imagery and jewelry, this postcard from Wixon is tough to ignore and easy to smile at. The reverse has simple messages pertinent to holiday shoppers: Extended hours, front-door parking (important during the Minnesota winter) and gift-wrapping.

A Good BetBrinker’s Jewelers, Evansville, IN

Brinker’s is no stranger to the Benchmarks page, and for good reason. Their marketing materials consistently set a stylish, sophisticated, but approachable tone. This men’s night invitation promises a good time for the recipient. The invites each came enclosed with a guest pass, and the aesthetic here and alluring casino vibe suggest an event most gentlemen would be proud to bring a friend to.

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These Ridiculously Cute Store Greeters Break the Ice and Calm Shoppers’ Nerves

Store greeters set shoppers at ease and serve as brand ambassadors.

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Store greeters of all types and species serve an important function in breaking the ice and easing threshold resistance. In the case of the four-legged variety, they offer a special breed of retail therapy, attract their share of regular admirers, and may even turn out to be adorably approachable jewelry models. Best of all, they add to your store experience and evoke an emotional response. Shoppers will be more than likely to just drop by to say hi.


Star Jewelers on HighColumbus, OH

THE ENGAGEMENT COUNSELOR. Rachel Howard of Star Jewelers on High in Columbus, OH, says her shop dog, Daisy, an 11-year-old Australian shepherd, loves to sit in the window and people watch, and as a result, brings passersby in to say hi. “Her favorite customers are engagement ring shoppers,” Howard says. “We think she senses their anxiety and sits by them to be a therapy dog and a source of comfort.”


Vogan Gold & Silver WorksColorado Springs, CO

THE RETAIL THERAPIST. Shelby is 6 years old and has been a greeter at Vogan Gold & Silver Works in Colorado Springs since she was 10 weeks old. While she loves all customers, she is having an “open fling” with the neighborhood UPS man, Wayne. “I say open because Wayne’s wife is well aware and is OK that he has Shelby’s picture on the visor in his big brown truck,” says Teri Vogan. Though Shelby will not change watch batteries, size a ring or tighten a diamond, she is good at customer service in the form of retail therapy. “She works hard,” Vogan says, “and only asks for animal crackers and elbow rubs.” (In the photo, apprentice Hollie Hyde offers Shelby an elbow rub.)


Art + SoulBoulder, CO

THE GREATEST MARKETING TOOL. Harry Winston, a.k.a. Winston the Yorkie, is the shop dog at Art + Soul in Boulder, CO. His claim to fame, says owner Debbie Klein, is that he is “The Best Dog. Ever.” His job duties include lounging in the sun in the front window and attracting passersby. ”He is our greatest marketing tool,” Klein says. “If you have a cookie, he will be your best friend for life. He used to have more friends on Facebook than I did until Facebook required us to provide proof that he was over age 13 to continue his page. He didn’t have a current ID, so they shut it down.”


LaLonde Jewelers & GemologistsGross Pointe Farms, MI

THE CHIEF MORALE OFFICER. Coco, a Maltese-poodle mix, is chief morale officer at LaLonde Jewelers & Gemologists in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, owned by Daniel and Cynthia LaLonde. When she’s not posing for glamour shots for advertisements, she can regularly be found waiting eagerly at the door to greet customers.


Elizabeth Diamond Co.Dayton, OH

THE BEST FRIEND. At Elizabeth Diamond Co. in Dayton, OH, German shepherd DaisyGirl comes to the store with owner Sonny Singhvi every day. She spends time on the sales floor greeting clients and has a following of fans that stop by and ask to see and pet her. She also specializes in sitting pretty on elegant, upholstered chairs.


Persona Custom & Fine JewelryBoston, MA

THE RED CARPET STARLET. Independence, aka Indi, belongs to the owners of a hardware store that happens to be next door to Persona Custom & Fine Jewelry on Charles Street, a pedestrian-friendly shopping mecca in Boston. As Indi’s name suggests, she goes where she pleases. But, as a luxury lover, she prefers to spend much of her time on the red carpet entrance to Persona or on the store’s Swarovski-crystal tufted, overstuffed accent chair. People come by just to visit Indi, who may look haughty but is actually quite approachable, according to Persona’s creative director, Dustin Rennells. (photo credit: Kelsey Riggs)


Robert Goodman JewelersZionsville, IN

THE WATCH DOGS. Rescue dogs Quincy (black and white) and Journey (brown and white) both work for Robert Goodman Jewelers in Zionsville, IN. Because the store, owned by Robert and Rose-Marie Goodman, has a museum vibe, they seem to be experts at posing as if they, too, are works of art. They also spend quality time peering out the front door.


Lily & Company JewelersSanibel Island, FL

THE BRAND ICON. Lily & Company Jewelers, owned by Karen Bell and Dan Schuyler, was named for Bell’s Labradoodle, Lily, who has become the face of the business in print ads and billboards, where, adorned in top of the line, photo-shopped jewels, she greets every visitor to Sanibel Island, FL. Every year, Lily’s birthday party is a major event on the island. This year, she was preparing to celebrate her 14th in April.


de Boulle Diamond & JewelryDallas, TX

THE GLAMOUR QUEEN. Roo, an Italian greyhound, has a regal presence befitting her luxurious environment at DeBoulle. “Since 2015, Roo has been sniffing out the best jewelry and customers,” says Josh Garcia, director of creative and marketing. “Before her day begins, we make sure she is pampered and polished, and she loves to wear jewelry. Her typical day involves greeting everyone at the door to deliver the de Boulle experience and puppy kisses.”


Sami Fine JewelryFountain Hills, AZ

THE HR SPECIALISTS. Jewel and Gemma are very effective in the HR department, according to owner Stephenie Bjorkman. They keep everyone on an even keel, staff and customers alike. “Animals are great therapists,” she says. When clients come in, they quickly forget that they are “just looking” and immediately let their guard down. Gemma also sits on kids’ laps when they get their ears pierced, easing anxiety. They entertain watch customers, too, while they are waiting. “I can hear customers say, ‘This is the last time I will throw the ball for you,’ then an hour passes,” Bjorkman says.


Mitchell’s JewelersPikesville, MD

THE PROFESSIONAL CHARMER. “Meet Charlie, our newest and cutest part-time sales associate. He’s best with greeting customers and making everyone smile,” says Mitchell Dickler, president of Mitchell’s.


Nancy and David Fine JewelsMilburn, NJ

THE GREETER. At Nancy and David Fine Jewels, co-owners David and Nancy Stone know they can rely on mini-poodle Rico to welcome customers.

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6 Jewelry Window Displays You Have to See to Believe

Six retailers who mesmerize passersby with window displays.

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If your location provides you with your own window on the world, make the most of it. Take that opportunity to market your brand in an eye-catching way.

Consider hiring a visual merchandising expert or consult a local florist who may help you in return for a gift card or a piece of jewelry, suggests Larry Johnson, author of The Complete Guide To Jewelry Display.

Figure out what you want it to accomplish before you start decorating. If it’s for pedestrian traffic, think of the window as a menu. Display popular price points and include the prices, which may entice someone into the store.


House of Stones New Philadelphia, OH

For Christmas 2017, Ian Wamboldt, store manager and creative window designer extraordinaire, used steel trees he painted white and new frame decals for the existing light boxes. “The store has a classic, even old-school jewelry look, so I try to do things that complement the fixtures and interior.” After Christmas, he transitioned all of the displays into a winter theme, which will work until the spring update. “Being a small business, there is hardly ever a large budget for displays. So whenever we get something new, I make sure we can use it somewhere else down the road.”


Sarini Fine Jewellery Vulcan, Alberta, Canada

Because Sarini Fine Jewellery has only two small windows, each must punch above its weight when it comes to making a visual impact on passersby. This particular window was inspired by Valentine’s Day, so the engagement rings were set into the silk roses and peonies, which were shaped into a heart. Owner Sandra Locken and staff member, Lynn Brooks, who created this display, bought several of these frames at IKEA and use them in the windows often, simply switching out the background color and adding text. “We also like to use lots of flowers in our windows because there is a green space beside us and it’s nice visual continuity between it and our store,” Locken says.


Ocean Jewels Myrtle Beach, SC

Sometimes it’s all about the right colors. Display cases and windows in Ocean Jewels, like the rest of the store, are light, bright and inspired by the South Carolina environment, including the ocean and gardens. Owners Ali and Stella Channa brand their business with the colors of deep blue and white. Fresh flowers add energy to the shopping experience and appeal to window displays.


Onyx II Fine Jewelers Watertown, CT

Two pounds of glue and 20 pounds of glitter in the wrong hands could mean a big, sticky mess, but James Michael Murphy of Onyx II Fine Jewelers is a pro. Every year, Onyx II kicks off the holiday season with a charity trunk show, and so he thought it would be fun for 2017 to incorporate artwork from the invitations into the window design. He wanted to convey a message of peace, happiness and love. An artist brought Murphy’s ideas to life for printed invitations and also sketched the characters featured in the window. The individual shapes seen in the window were each cut from heavy-duty foam and shipped from California. Murphy painted each one by hand with glue and then glittered each item.


Pyrrha Los Angeles

Anything is likely to appear in one of Pyrrha’s flagship store windows — from felt birds to Victorian-era mannequins, while in the other window a 200-year-old dollhouse displaying jewelry creates a consistent, intentionally decrepit look. The store was designed by owners Wade and Danielle Papin to reflect the eclectic spirit of their line of talisman jewelry, which is based on Victorian-era wax seals. “I don’t feel like we need to sell in a traditional way because our product is so personal,” Danielle says. “We can do things in our window that at first don’t really make sense, but once you know the line, you kind of get it.”


Kesslers Diamond Center Germantown, WI

One key to a successful display strategy is the use of repetition to make the design stand out. Retailworks, a commercial interior design and branding firm in Milwaukee, employs that strategy in a Fifth-Avenue-style window display they created for Kesslers Diamonds. “It’s a free billboard for your company to have your displays on the street,” says Allie Jeka, social media strategist and marketing/creative assistant. Display artists for the company browsed Pinterest for inspiration and designed the dresses themselves, which are almost completely made of paper with Kesslers famous red box prominently featured. “We’ve had a lot of media attention, and tons of comments from pedestrians, people taking photos,” Jeka says.

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