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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.

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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Benchmarks

Stores Create Displays That Are Made To Be Touched

Make some merchandise accessible.

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IN MOST JEWELRY STORES, there’s not much that shoppers can touch without asking. But these jewelers allow customers the freedom to hold and try on pieces to their heart’s content.

Mixed Media

At Balefire Goods in Arvada, CO, owner Jamie Hollier uses blocks of wood atop a glass shelf to create an intriguing textural contrast while providing a simple, organic base for sculptural, artisan-made jewelry. Wood, metal and concrete furniture and fixtures soften an industrial aesthetic, while creating a neutral backdrop where jewelry and art become the focus.

An Heirloom Look

At H1912 in Princeton, NJ, an offspring of Hamilton Jewelers, watch bands are cleverly displayed in a vintage printers tray (discovered at a garage sale) and on bulletin boards. Rustic displays and period furniture reflect the store’s focus on heirloom jewelry and one-of-a-kind finds. “We recently started putting additional accessories up on bulletin boards in our store, but we only feature very few straps on the board because it’s important clients can touch and feel the different materials of the watch straps and be able to hold them against their watches on their wrist,” says store director Lea D’Onofrio.

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A Study in Contrasts

Lindy’s in Fernandina Beach, FL, embraces an eclectic decor in which it seems perfectly natural to hang long, beaded necklaces from deer antlers mounted on an exposed brick wall. The quirky wall display co-exists with elegant elements, including a large mirror propped against a wall and a chandelier. “It’s difficult to display long necklaces (that are so popular right now) in the showcases,” says owner Lindy Kavanaugh. “Our dress forms are another favorite for displaying long necklaces, and we love using the mineral specimens and cool gemstone-related pieces we find in Tucson as it seems to bring it all together with a fancy, but earthy vibe. Kind of like wearing pearls with a sweatshirt!”

Front and Center

At Adornment & Theory in Chicago, an accessories table in the center of the store draws shoppers to try on bracelets and pendants, while staff is prepared to fill them in on the story behind each piece. “People are looking for a personal touch,” says owner Viviana Langhoff. “They want to know if it’s handmade, they want to know about the designer, the story, the fair-trade component, where the stones are coming from. They like knowing the details.”

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Benchmarks

6 Websites Setting a High Bar for Jewelry Retail

Personalize your website to drive more sales.

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TODAY, THE CONSUMER experience starts online. Make your customers feel welcome in your virtual store, and they are likely to show up on your threshold, too.

“Websites are the cornerstone of any small business,” says Shane O’Neill, VP at Fruchtman Marketing. “It must be designed as a sales tool and method of communication.” Showing photos of merchandise with prices is a good start. E-commerce is the next step. And communication can be had in real time with a live-chat feature. Even social media strategies should reflect back to the website.

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What makes a solid website goes beyond the technical bells and whistles to reflect the personality of your store and the customer experience that can be found there. Include attractive photos of the store itself, so that viewers know what to expect – in terms of atmosphere and interior decor, when they do cross your threshold.

Julie Gotz, chief marketing officer for Freshley Digital, works with her team to custom design clients’ websites. While they are all clean, upscale designs that are easily searchable and can accommodate e-commerce, each has its own personality; the team doesn’t use one-size-fits-all templates. Her job, she says, is to do a deep dive into what the client likes and doesn’t like, what their aesthetic is, what their competitors are doing, and then producing a website design that will help them gain market dominance.

If you’re making the leap to e-commerce, remember that the point of much of that effort is to drive those sales into your store, too. “When I think of e-commerce,” says O’Neil, “I think of it as not just online sales; I think of it as sales.” Most retailers are marketing and targeting local shoppers, and so it makes sense that if you’re selling big-ticket items, they will still come to your store after shopping your store online. “Even with items that are $500 or $600, if you’re right down the street, they may still want to come in and look at it. Foot traffic is down, yes, but sales may not suffer if you have a high quality website and a great digital presence.”
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Alchemy
alchemyjeweler.net

Alchemy Jewelers of Portland, OR, introduced its new website with shopify e-commerce features in July 2018. “It’s updated, clean and romantic, and it incorporates the rich colors of the store’s interior, so people coming to the website know they’re in the right spot,” says marketing director Megan Walsh. Photographing fine jewelry and reflective diamonds was a learning experience, she says, but having the right equipment — a professional grade lightbox and a Nikon DSLR camera — helps. Walsh also blogs and updates product offerings and event information.

 

Belle Brooke
bellebrooke.net

Although Santa Fe, NM, gallery owner Belle Brooke Barer believes strongly in the power of brick and mortar commerce, bellebrooke.net still makes a statement about the business by deploying eye-catching model photography to emulate the experience of walking into the distinctive Santa Fe boutique. Jewelry pieces are shown with prices and a selection of the core collection is available for online purchase. Each page displays information emphasizing the artist’s priorities.

 

Jack Lewis Jewelers
jacklewisjewelers.com

Jack Lewis Jewelers of Bloomington, IN, does an excellent job of personalizing the online shopping experience by featuring quality photos of each staff member, and, in particular, introducing their “superstar” custom jeweler, Jim Leeds, who can create the ring of the client’s dreams. Rather than announcing, “We do custom design,” this innovative introduction begins to create a relationship between the customer and the jeweler.
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Croghan’s Jewel Box
croghansjewelbox.com

The elegant look of this Charleston, SC store is reflected in its easy-to-navigate website. You can instantly buy (or gape at) a 1950s sapphire, diamond and gold bracelet for $14,950, or pick up a $65 pair of gold-plated “goldbug” earrings designed to look like Palmetto bugs. About half of customers live out of town. Standard shipping is free when shoppers spend $100 or more.

 

Walters and Hogsett
waltersandhogsett.com

Walters and Hogsett’s website raises the bar in function by cross-marketing relevant content on other pages. For example, the jewelry and watch repair page refer back to the new watches page and also to the custom jewelry design page. So if a customer is considering repairing a piece of jewelry, they might instead consider repurposing it into something new. Doing this throughout a site keeps people engaged and on the site longer, says Shane O’Neill of Fruchtman Marketing. The business also provides clear opt-ins for their email newsletter, and uses sitewide banners for trunk shows or other events. They link to Instagram shopping options and have a loose diamond search tool.

 

Williams Jewelers of Englewood
Williamsdiamonds.com

Freshley Digital custom designed the website for Williams Jewelers of Englewood, CO, integrating Edge POS with the website and making it fully e-commerce enabled. “Every market is different; every client is completely different,” says Julie Gotz of Freshley Digital. Freshley Digital simplified the user experience while retaining the brand history of the store, one of the priorities of the Williams family. “It’s all about having a very clean, very upscale design that reflects the store. We only have a few minutes to grab their attention and lead them to the next step,” Gotz says.

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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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