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Ask INSTORE: June 2010



How to hop on that green bandwagon, what to consider in a strip mall location, and more.

[h3]Going Green[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]We’d like to ensure we’re seen as an environmentally conscious jeweler. Where should we start?[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.] If you are jumping on the green bandwagon because it seems the thing to do in 2010, you run the risk of being exposed by customers who know their BPA-free water bottles from the less environment-friendly kind. Steve Robbins, director of sustainability at branding consultancy Willoughby Design, recommends that when building your “green” brand, you work from the inside out. Start small and get everyone on board. That can mean acts as simple as sorting your plastic from your paper or using vegetable-oil based printer ink, to a program as comprehensive as an energy audit. “When a client visits us, for example, we bring a pitcher of ice water and lemons to the meeting room, instead of bottled water,” said Robbins. “It’s a small modification that takes no extra time or inconvenience, but it says a lot to people about our business. In addition, it also helps reduce costs.” Once you’ve got the home front organized, you can move on to evaluating the products you sell, and finally communicating your commitment to the environment, Robbins says.


[h4][b]I’m looking at a new strip mall location. What should I be taking into consideration?[/b][/h4]


David Brown, of the Edge Retail Academy, recommends that you first identify if this is a “service” or “shopping” mall, meaning are people going there to pick up a newspaper, do some grocery shopping, perhaps visit a dentist’s clinic, or are they going there because they are in “buying mode”? Once you’ve got that settled, you can start to consider the details, such as is it a good retail space? “A space that is 15-feet wide x 150-feet deep is a difficult space to lay out well,” says Ruth Mellergaard, a principal at design company GRID/3. She advises you also look into the signage restrictions in the strip center and county as well as find out exactly what the landlord is providing for you in terms of ADA compliant bathrooms, drywall on the demising walls, and air-conditioning systems (Will it be powerful enough to cool a jewelry store?). Larry Read, co-owner of Lee Read’s Jewelers in Boise, ID, and the joint-winner of our 2008 America’s Coolest Store Competition, adds that it is critical to monitor the location at different times of the day to ensure that a mall restaurant at one end of the mall doesn’t use up all the parking for lunch and dinner. “Finally, take your time. If you have to decide today you will probably miss something much better. Nothing you do can ever make the location better,” Read says.

[componentheading]PRICING [/componentheading]

[h4][b]I seem to be stuck in a cycle of bring it in, mark it up and mark it down. How do I get to genuine profitability?[/b][/h4]

Discounting. It is damaging to profitability, lowers the expectations of your customers, hurts your store’s brand equity and is usually unavoidable, because having the same boring inventory sitting in your cases month after month will wreak similar havoc on your business. The secret is to be prudent with your initial inventory (meaning buy according to your sales records) and then to optimally discount. That means keeping the sale short, marketing it properly, being smart (don’t discount hot sellers), targeting your best customers first (hold a customer appreciation night), being creative (bundle, offer fun spiffs to staff,) exploring all the options (eBay, bartering) and knowing what drives your customers. Are they collectors who aren’t swayed by price? Bottom feeders? Or strategic shoppers? In other words, the alternative to reflexive discounting is a lot of hard work.

[componentheading] NETWORKING [/componentheading]

[h4][b]I’ve got a string of black-tie industry/social events coming up. What’s the deal on getting a tux? Can I just show up in dark jacket and white shirt? I’m an artist, after all.[/b][/h4]


Unless you can pull it off with the flair of Johnny Depp, we suggest you follow one of the basic rules of etiquette: When in doubt, overdress. The classic penguin suit is a single-breasted peak-lapel jacket paired with a French-cuff shirt. If you have some formal weddings or other events on your calendar this summer, you might want to consider buying your own tux and having it tailored. (Wear it six times and it’s paid for itself.) Final piece of advice: Your shirtsleeves should reach the base of your wrist bone, with a quarter inch of cuff showing. You don’t want to look as if you’ve arrived at your junior prom.

[componentheading]HIRING [/componentheading]

[h4][b]My main jeweler has asked me if I’ll take on his 16-year-old son as an unpaid intern this summer to give him some experience. What are the legal ramifications of this?[/b][/h4]

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division has specific criteria governing unpaid intern programs. Among them:
[li] The internship is for the benefit of the student.[/li]
[li] The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.[/li]
[li]The intern cannot be guaranteed a job at the conclusion of the training period.[/li]

If those conditions are not met, the intern is considered an employee and is entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay.

[span class=note]This story is from the June 2010 edition of INSTORE[/span]


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Wilkerson Testimonials

Downsizing? Wilkerson Is Here to Help

Orin Mazzoni, Jr., the owner of Orin Jewelers in Garden City and Northville, Michigan, decided it was time to downsize. With two locations and an eye on the future, Mazzoni asked Wilkerson to take the lead on closing the Garden City store. Mazzoni met Wilkerson’s Rick Hayes some years back, he says, and once he made up his mind to consolidate, he and Hayes “set up a timeline” for the sale. Despite the pandemic, Mazzoni says the everything went smoothly. “Many days, we had lines of people waiting to get in,” he says, adding that Wilkerson’s professionalism made it all worthwhile. “Whenever you do an event like this, you think, ‘I’ve been doing this my whole life. Do I really need to pay someone to do it for me?’ But then I realized, these guys are the pros and we need to move forward with them.”

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