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How to Add Fashion Brands to a Guild Store … and More of Your Questions for May

Plus, the final word on whether you should hand-write or print address labels.




How to Add Fashion Brands to a Guild Store … and More of Your Questions for May

I’m thinking of adding some fashion brands to my lineup. Is there a risk I’ll hurt my store’s guild image?

“Fine is fine and fashion is fashion and never the twain shall meet” has been a rule since at least Rudyard Kipling’s time. The division was not only one of materials but of occasion — one was almost exclusively a gift purchase while the other tended to be a self-purchase. But the distinction is starting to blur, in part because some of the previously considered fine stuff is being sold at low prices, and some of the fashion product can be pretty darned expensive. There’s also a growing fashion trend of mixing high and low price points, as highlighted by Helen Hunt’s 2013 Oscar’s appearance, when she paired $700,000 worth of Martin Katz jewelry with an H&M dress. In recent years, many jewelers have found that carrying fashion brands is an effective way of introducing younger consumers to their stores. If your store is very high end then it may not be wise to introduce lower-priced offerings, because yes, then you do risk introducing a harmful dissonance to your in-store environment. But, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. report on jewelry retailing, the future appears to be one that will be determined by price point rather than the traditional markers of what is fine and what is “costume.” And branded fashion jewelry is likely to have an increasingly important part to play in overall sales.


I’d like to capture some of the feeling of spring with flowers. What kinds do you recommend?

Daffodils are the traditional flower symbolizing spring but really, just about any variety will work, with the possible exception of red roses, because they are so closely linked to Valentine’s Day. Color authority Pantone cited a number of flowers among the inspirations for its spring 2014 recommendations, including Violet Tulip, Radiant Orchid, Freesia and Celosia Orange. White roses or chrysanthemums will add a touch of elegance to your diamond area (in addition to signaling BRIDAL!), blues and greens calm shoppers and encourage contemplation, while yellows and oranges will signal the coming summer. Roses are still among the most popular flower in America, but be aware that they don’t fare well under hot lighting. Just be sure to go with fresh flowers. True, the silk copies have lasting power, but they tend to bring to mind grandma’s sofa-side arrangements rather than the thrill of the new season.


How do I appeal to women self-purchasers?

The most important thing, says merchandising expert Sally Furrer, is to carry designs that will fit with her everyday lifestyle, jewelry that she can wear with jeans, at the grocery and to the office. “Merchandise your collections based on a look and feel, not by designer or product category since women shop by design primarily,” she says, suggesting that you consider focusing your assortments on colored gems and pearls, with diamond accents.

“In apparel style today, things coordinate loosely but do not match exactly. Do not feature sets of earrings, pendants or bracelets. Vignettes of complementary jewelry are a great timesaver because you have done the coordination work for her,” she says. It is also important that the jewelry be in the $50 to $2,000 sweet spot, as every woman has a dollar threshold where she feels the need to discuss it with her husband or prefers that he purchases it, Furrer says.



Should I handwrite or print labels?

Let’s be practical first: If you’re handwriting resembles the scrawl of a 4-year-old or is so hard to decipher that it may cause confusion at the checkout, go with printed labels. If you change your prices regularly or would appreciate the time savings offered by computer-printed price labels, go with printed tags. If, however, you have a beautiful script, handwritten tags can add a nice touch. This is especially the case if you create your own designs; there’s a neat resonance between the uniqueness of someone’s handwriting and a handmade piece of jewelry. Handwritten tags also have a nice way of disappearing into the background. One final thing to consider though: Preprinted price labels have proven to reduce price haggling by customers.

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When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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