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Best of the Best: Coming Out Party

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Best of the Best Logo[dropcap cap=J]onathan Mervis’ push for 2010 has been to look into new markets, including gay weddings. “This is an exciting time to be in DC,” says Mervis, a third-generation family jeweler. “It’s not often we have the opportunity to tap into an emerging market, but that’s exactly what gay marriage will create for this city.” — EILEEN MCCLELLAND[/dropcap]

[componentheading]THE IDEA [/componentheading]

[contentheading]New Niche[/contentheading]

Mervis Diamond Importers planned a “Coming Out” party with Don Gillin, owner of DCsGayWeddingPlanners.com to promote the business as gay-friendly in anticipation of same-sex marriages becoming legal in Washington, DC. “We’re testing the waters,” Jonathan Mervis says. “We had tried advertising in a gay magazine a couple of years ago, but we did it very briefly and if you know anything about advertising, you know you have to stick with it. Now we thought, Let’s make a real push to get this market.”

[componentheading]THE EXECUTION [/componentheading]

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[contentheading] Partner Up [/contentheading]

The Coming Out Party was free for Mervis because he partnered with a variety of businesses with the same goal. Mervis worked with a local jewelry designer, who created a line of rings for gay weddings. “They are gay wedding rings mostly because we say they are, but they are a little different,” Mervis says. They are a little heavier than usual and made of 18K gold or platinum. Mervis began advertising regularly in two newspapers that serve the gay community. The event was also advertised on Facebook and e-mail notices were sent to bloggers who focus on what’s going on in the city and in the gay community.

[componentheading]THE REWARD [/componentheading]

[contentheading]Press Interest[/contentheading]

About 40 people attended, many of whom were journalists from local newspapers and TV stations. “It wasn’t huge. We could have accommodated more people, but we did get a lot of press out of it,” Mervis says. He also met new clients that night, who were getting married and needed rings. Not all was positive, however: “We got one angry e-mail saying, ‘We will never support your business, ever,’” he says. Nevertheless, he plans to try it again every few months to keep up momentum.

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[componentheading]DO IT YOURSELF[/componentheading][li]“Weigh the net gain. There’s always positives and negatives with any sort of marketing initiative.”[/li]
[li] Mervis says he is trying to reach other niche markets. Consider what potential markets are untapped in your community.[/li]
[li]Mervis is also making a push for the local Indian wedding market. Indian weddings typically create a demand for jewelry for the whole family as well as gold for the bride. “The effort is there and the motivation is there,” Mervis says. “We can’t rest on our laurels and do things the way we did in the past.” [/li]

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

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