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Ask INSTORE: August 2006



Easy ways to clean suede, finding a good appraiser, and taking a fresh grip on handshakes.

[h3]Homespun solutions can spiff up suede displays[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]I want to get my displays looking nice before the fall weather sets in. What are some good cleaning solutions for suede and leatherette?[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]There was a time when this was a job saved for the holiday help, but if you must clean your suede now, try a homespun solution created by mixing half a cap of cleaning-detergent powder (with no bleach, no whitening agents) in cold water, says Larry Johnson, author of the Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display.[/dropcap]

Dip a cotton cloth in the solution, rub the soiled area in a circular motion until the spot is removed, and then rinse with clean water. When the area is dry, gently rub it with a soft bristled brush like a toothbrush to get back that “suede look”. For leatherette you can employ the same method ,only use a liquid detergent instead of the powder and simply let the cleaned area dry once you’re done.

An over-the-counter solution that works well is Simple Green, which can be used on most fabrics and doesn’t need any special mixing or diluting. Some jewelers swear by white gum erasers — the kind you get at most art-supplies stores — to clean leatherette. Rubbing alcohol diluted by one part water can work as a non-acetone, nail-polish remover. But both are considered more “aggressive” cleaning solutions. “Test it first on an area that customers can’t see,” says Johnson.



[contentheading]Cool Calling[/contentheading]

[h4][b]In some of your recent issues you seem to advocate getting on the phone to customers to generate traffic. I don’t like “cold calling”. Is my reluctance to use the phone hurting my business?[/b][/h4]

In the timeless words of all great sales oracles — it depends. With existing customers, you shouldn’t be scared to use the telephone to maintain relationships and get people to your special sales events — many customers even get a kick out of the idea of being on their local jeweler’s “special list”. But, as for customers who you don’t know well, especially those you have never sold to, there is a growing consensus that cold-calling doesn’t work, and instead only annoys people.

The other big problem with cold calling is that even when you do get on to an interested party — you’re in a very weak sales position. Frank Rumbauskas, author of Never Cold Call Again, says ringing up unqualified strangers shows you’re desperately trawling for business. One of the ironies of retailing is that you need to project an image of success — and the perception that you do not really need a customer’s business is a big part of this. Give your customer the upper hand psychologically and you’ll soon be competing with Target on price alone.



[contentheading]Appraisal Time[/contentheading]

[h4][b]How do I find a good appraiser for my store?[/b][/h4]

Industry expert Cos Altobelli, CGA, suggests in his book The Practical Guide to Jewelry Appraising that you look first at candidates with some form of alphabet soup behind their names as this will “contribute to your firm’s credibility”. Altobelli recommends graduates of the CGA (Certified Gemologist Appraiser) or APPA (Advanced Personal Property Appraiser) certification programs, which are both affiliated with the American Gem Society. There are a host of industry-specific websites where you can post job openings for qualified appraisers.

Start with the AGS and GIA websites or the network of your local Jewelers of America (JA) group, Altobelli says. When it comes to the actual interview, ask the candidate to examine several gemstones and be sure he or she can identify them and come up with unique talking points about each one. Then, have the candidate grade several diamonds for cut, color and clarity. Another often-overlooked appraisal skill: good handwriting. When making appraisals, penmanship counts!

[componentheading]POWER BILLS[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Crude Shock[/contentheading]


[h4][b]Rising gas prices have convinced me to get smart on energy use in my store? Do you have any tips?[/b][/h4]

When you give back to Mother Earth, you often give back to your pocketbook. Here are a few suggestions that could lead to big savings, courtesy of energy-conservation group Greenest City.
• Replace your manual thermostat with a programmable one.
• Install occupancy sensors in seldom-used areas of the store to cut lighting consumption.
• Plant properly sited trees outside to provide shade and a windbreak.
• Utilize the power-save feature on computers and photocopiers throughout the day.
• Use expandable foam to fill holes, cracks, and tiny gaps in your building where doors and windows meet walls. These leaks can account for as much as 40% of your heating and cooling costs.
• When replacing windows, use double-paned glass.
• Shades, awnings, and shutters can reduce heat loss at night, block sunlight during the day, and provide much needed shade for the front of your store.

[componentheading]CUSTOMBER SERVICE[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Shake On It[/contentheading]

[h4][b]The old double-pump handshake with a firm grip has always worked, but should I be giving more thought to how I shake a customer’s hand?[/b][/h4]

Networking expert Andrea Nieren-berg suggests you keep these basic guidelines in mind: Grip the other person’s hand at the point where the webs of your thumbs meet. Shake from the elbow, not the shoulders. And, when shaking a person’s hand only do so for a few seconds. By Western standards this is an acceptable time. And finally, shake with only one hand. Don’t use your other hand to cover the other person’s hand.

[componentheading]SALES GEAR[/componentheading]

[contentheading]Shoe In[/contentheading]

[h4][b]I love the sales floor, but being on my feet all day can be torture. Where can I find some stylish, comfortable shoes to get me through the day?[/b][/h4]

Doctors estimate that at least 12% of all foot ailments stem from the wearing of incorrect shoes. A good place to start the hunt for a pair of shoes that won’t cramp your style is website, which offers shoe reviews, as well as links to online shoe stores. And these days you’re spoilt for choice. Four things to keep in mind while shopping:
• Heels no higher than two inches.
• A wide-toe box that won’t cramp or restrict the toes.
• Cushioned footbeds that mold to the shape of the foot.
• Materials that allow the feet to breathe.

[span class=note]This story is from the August 2006 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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For 25 years, Stafford Jewelers of Cincinnati, Ohio, was THE place to go for special gifts, engagement diamonds, high-end Swiss watch brands — in other words, the crème de la crème of fine jewelry. But this summer, the Stafford family was ready to retire. So, they chose Wilkerson to help them close up shop. “One of the biggest concerns was having the sale in the middle of COVID,” says Director of Stores Michelle Randle. Wilkerson gave the Stafford team plenty of ideas as well as safety guidelines, which they closely followed. “All of the employees felt safe, the customers coming in the door felt safe and we did a lot of business,” says Randle. How much business? “The inventory flew,” she says. Translation: They sold millions and millions of dollars-worth of merchandise. Randle calls it, “an incredible experience.” Would she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers who are thinking of thinning their inventories or retiring? “Everyone got more than what they expected out of the sale. You have to hire Wilkerson. They’re amazing.”

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