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Ask INSTORE: March 2008



How to sell old display cases, the importance of jewelry-related classifieds pages, and handling family requests for discounted jewelry.

[h3]Showcase Your Used Cases[/h3]

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]We are remodeling our store this spring and I need to sell all of our display cases. I placed a listing on Is there anywhere else I should post this listing?[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]The first place most people in the industry will turn for jewelry-related items are the classifieds pages and websites of the trade magazines (INSTORE and, you know, those others we’re not allowed to mention). There is also or for a larger, less targeted audience, Yahoo classifieds and eBay. These, however, are all fee-based. For a free posting, try Click here. (It is new but growing pretty quickly. And in the interests of fair disclosure, we should point out, an INSTORE project).[/dropcap]

If you don’t have any success there, try this tip from trainer and consultant Kate Peterson — pin a note to your tie at the next industry function you attend.  

“Seriously, everyone I know who has bought or sold fixtures and the like has done so through someone they know who knows someone who has/needs something,” she says.


[componentheading]FAMILY DISCOUNTS[/componentheading]

[h4][b]I have four brothers and a father (none of them in the business) who just about killed me over Christmas, coming in at the last minute and wanting inventory at cost. How do you deal with this?[/b][/h4]

Retail expert Rick Segel recalls a similar problem when he ran his women’s specialty store. His answer was to stand up at a family gathering, explain the demands of his business and announce that he would extend a 20 percent discount to all family members. “I explained that I could make money at 20 percent off and be happy when they came in,” Segel says, adding that after making his little speech, even relatives he hadn’t seen for a while started showing up at his door. “The family members and friends who appreciated my openness now felt more comfortable shopping at my store. As for the friends or family members who didn’t think that 20 percent off was good enough — well too bad. Anyone who feels that way doesn’t deserve even the 20 percent.” Segel says that from his experience working with retailers for over two decades, many offer just 10 percent to family members. “But I felt 20 percent worked for me.”

[componentheading]THOSE PESKY CUSTOMERS[/componentheading]

[h4][b]My question regards the “other” 80/20 rule — that 80 percent of your headaches come from 20 percent of your customers. How do you get rid of these customers without creating an enemy who will bad mouth your store?[/b][/h4]

Some customer types are easier to deal with than others. For those who want you to do something illegal — such as ship an empty box out of state to evade tax, the answer is always a simple “no.” If it’s a custom-design client who repeatedly changes her mind or imposes unrealistic completion times, you need to do a better job of communicating that alterations incur charges — and stick to your guns. And then if she still makes your life difficult, raise your prices until the money compensates for the grief or she goes away.


More common is the demanding type who believes the customer is always right and then is never happy with the product or service you offer — but keeps coming back to your store regardless. These people need to be “fired.” They damage employee morale and impose a cost through wasted time and resources. For such clients, be calm but firm. Kate Peterson suggests you think of a specific customer objective that you can’t meet and then explain that they’d be better off shopping elsewhere.

Make your presentation sincerely, and be prepared to take responsibility for the problem. Peterson suggests something like this: “Mr. Pain, I can’t tell you how sorry I am, but it’s become clear we are simply not able to get the job done. We’re never happy about losing a valuable customer, but I have to accept the fact that you would be far better served by someone better equipped to meet your standards. We’ve appreciated your patronage, and you’ll be missed — but it’s time for me to put your needs first and recommend that you explore other options.” Then stand up, shake hands and end the conversation.  

[componentheading]FALSE ADVERTISING[/componentheading]

[h4][b]I’m trying to bring a little heat on a one-stop chain store whose “fine jewelry” is always on sale. But its diamond earrings are not $1,000 studs marked down by 70 percent. They are $300 earrings selling for full price. Am I wasting my time trying to get the state attorney general to take action?[/b][/h4]

Our view, which is shared by the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, is to go for it — you’ll be doing all independent jewelers a favor if you do. In most cases, price advertising is governed by local and state laws, which require the merchant to have offered the “on sale” goods for a set number of days at the regular price before they can be described as “on sale,” says JVC president Cecilia Gardner.

The challenge for regulators in establishing a violation of these local and state laws is to prove that the item was in fact offered for the requisite number of days at the regular price. “Of course, an advertiser who daily claims these items are on sale would be hard pressed to establish that they were ever offered at the regular price. Legal compliance is always a worthy effort,” Gardner says.


[span class=note]This story is from the July 2008 edition of INSTORE[/span]



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