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Bailey’s Fine Jewelry

The feminine touch

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Bailey’s Fine Jewelry, Greenville, NC

OWNERS: Clyde and Jane Bailey; DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS: Trey Bailey; SLOGAN: Every woman wants a Bailey box; FOUNDED: 1948; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 1996; RENOVATED: 2006; TOTAL AREA: 5,000 square feet; TOP BRANDS: David Yurman, Slane & Slane, John Hardy, Hearts On Fire, Ippolita, Mikimoto, Pandora, Tag Heuer;


BAILEY’S has become a household name in Raleigh, NC, and environs by seizing on great ideas and turning them into treasured local traditions. In recent years, the family-owned company has modernized its stores and made them particularly appealing to women, with feminine colors and graceful curves and a high level of comfort. The Greenville, NC, store became the prototype for Bailey’s after a reinvention and expansion from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet. In 2010, the company added two more stores to its roster, bringing the total to five. “We’re having an amazing year,” Trey Bailey, director of operations, said in late 2010. “Even with the recession, we’ve been staying strong.”

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Five Cool Things About Bailey’s Fine Jewelry

1. THE PROTOTYPE STORE.  The renovated store in Greenville, a city of 80,000, set the standard for Bailey stores to follow. Instead of tinkering with the existing store in a small, high-end shopping center, they gutted it and started from scratch, even expanding upward with an eye-catching domed ceiling, set off by columns and faux gold leaf painting. Owners Clyde and Jane Bailey, Trey’s parents, designed everything, drawing it to scale with as much accuracy as possible before turning the plans over to an architect. Important features replicated in stores designed since then include a children’s play area, a customer lounge and a marble bar.

2. THE LADIES’ TACKLE SHOP.  The Baileys believe that the jewelry business is driven by women and has been for decades. So, early on, Trey says, the Baileys had the foresight to forego the clubby men’s look — dark wood and leather — in favor of a lighter, boutique feel. The Greenville store was designed for women with inviting, feminine colors, wood floors, fashionable, high-end finishes, and curves, rather than hard edges. The curved cases and uninterrupted glass lend a smooth flow to the store.

“Our stores are geared toward a female self-purchaser. They are a natural place for a woman to be.” The color scheme idea came from Trey’s dining room, where an artist had brushed gold and silver over the green base paint. Bailey’s has a gallery next door for giftware, china and home décor. “My dad likes to call our store the Disneyland for ladies,” Trey Bailey says. “He is big into fishing so he also calls it the ladies’ tackle shop.”

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3. THE BAILEY BOX.  “When I was a kid,” Bailey says, “a lady at a charity function told my parents, ‘Well, you know, every woman wants a Bailey box under the tree.’ The Baileys used that for the Christmas campaign, and (without the tree part), it became the company slogan.” It’s stood the test of time. “We asked people on Facebook, ‘What’s your favorite Bailey’s ad?’ and they could’ve said anything, but most people referred to our slogan.” The box itself, though, has changed with the times. When the original burgundy became unfashionable in the ’90s, the box was reinvented in black and white stripes with a red bow. If they happen to wrap a gift in paper without those signature stripes, a guy will say, “Can I get it wrapped like I see in the magazines?”

4. FINDERS KEEPERS.  In 2008, Trey launched the “Finders Keepers” campaign — an idea of his wife, Marci, who also works at the store. The concept was to surprise people in the community with Bailey’s boxes filled with jewelry. The boxes also contained a poem and a letter, asking recipients to contact Bailey’s. “The first box we left to really launch the campaign made the front page of the Raleigh Observer. “It was unsolicited. It was very unsophisticated. We just left the box. We didn’t call anybody. It was completely organic, the way it happened.” The gifts — silver jewelry or pearl necklaces — cost the company less than $100 each. They’ve tried leaving gift certificates as well, but have gotten the most enthusiastic response from the “instant gratification” boxes.

A year after the program started, they decided to organize a treasure hunt, orchestrated by SCVNGR, in each of their stores. “We haven’t had an engagement yet on site, but we’ve had some great stories. It was something that married perfectly with the Bailey box campaign.”

5. BAILEY’S ON WHEELS.  Bailey’s has retired its Rolls Royce due to engine problems. (The beautiful, old, royal blue car is parked in Trey’s grandmother’s garage.) But they do send out the company limousine for special deliveries and as a perk for customers celebrating special occasions. “We surprise people with it if someone bought something really nice.

But it doesn’t have to be an expensive purchase. We’ve had people spend about $1,500 with a real tear-jerker story, and a sales associate will ask to have the limo sent out. Of course, that blows people away. It was my dad’s idea, a long time ago. This is our third limousine.”

They also deploy a car for deliveries dressed up to look like a Bailey box with a lighted bow on top. “When people see this car, they smile and remember the wonderful experiences they have had in our store — or they might just be inspired to drop in.”

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Five Questions with Trey Bailey

1. HOW DO YOU HANDLE SOCIAL-MEDIA CHORES? I used to be in charge of that, but it got out of control. So we hired a PR company and they also handle social media and do a phenomenal job. We work on it together. They are good about bugging us when we haven’t blogged in a while.

2. HOW DID YOU COPE WITH THE RECESSION? We didn’t cut our advertising budget and that helped us pick up market share. We worked harder; our sales associates worked harder. We stayed in touch with our loyal clientele and reminded people we were still there. Upper-end clients didn’t stop buying jewelry if you kept a relationship with them. We contact our patrons for birthdays and anniversaries. If you do that constantly, you’re going to have a stronger sales organization. We’re in the birthday and anniversary business.

3. WHAT ADS WORK FOR YOU? We advertise in newspapers; in our industry — higher-end jewelry — the bulk of people are 45-plus and they still read the newspaper. We got out of radio completely for a while because we thought radio was dead. About two years ago, we went back and we’ve gotten so many customers from radio. I have friends who are hard-core music people who say they don’t care for the radio. But it’s funny how often they say they heard my commercial. I think newspaper and radio are not dead.

4. WHAT IS THE THEME OF YOUR RADIO ADVERTISING? We have an expensive image, but we are price competitive. So our pitch is, “Yes, you can afford something at Bailey’s.”

5. WHAT DID YOUR FATHER TEACH YOU? “I believe in five fast nickels rather than one slow quarter.”

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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