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Jewelry on Tap, Asheville’s Artisan Aesthetic



ASHEVILLE, NC, HAS AN aesthetic that emphasizes hand-made, artisan goods, whether the goods in question are craft beer or fine jewelry. Being in the jewelry business, Marthe Le Van, owner of Mora Contemporary Jewelry, decided to devote all of her display-case space to jewelry made in Asheville for one day in mid-December 2014.

the IDEA

Pop-Up Shops on Trends

Le Van also thought the idea would fit in well with the pop-up shop trend. “People are used to getting whatever they want whenever they want it, online, and it’s kind of a niche to have things available for a limited time,” she says.

The idea was inspired by seeing events at bars featuring local beer from craft brewers temporarily on tap.

“Mora’s equivalent to beer taps is its display cases, and I wanted to see them filled with one-of-a-kind jewelry hand-crafted right here in Asheville,” she says.
Asheville is already recognized as a creative hot spot for jewelry. “The number of high-quality jewelers who live in this area is astonishing and growing rapidly,” Le Van says.
With increasing publicity comes increasing demand from consumers.



Artists in the House

The downtown boutique showcased the talents of contemporary jewelry artists living and working in the community. Fifteen local jewelers participated and showed up to talk to customers during an afternoon reception.

Although Mora didn’t hire extra staff for the occasion beyond the usual three-person team, it did help sales and service to have the artists on hand. “We could bring over the person who actually made it, to tell the story of the piece and the process,” she says.

The lineup of 15 included eight special guest artists who are not regularly represented at the store.

Mora’s staff cleared out and put away all of the inventory made elsewhere to make room for the extra local goods.

Le Van mailed printed invitations as well as emailing her customer list. Participating jewelers also invited their clients. The store also sent a press release to local media and pushed the topic on social media.

Staff started the day serving mimosas and pastries, and later switched refreshment gears to wine and hors d’oevres.



Finding New Suppliers

  • New vendors: “Of the 15 jewelers we showed that day, eight we show all the time and seven we hadn’t shown at all; two were new, and so no one had seen them before. Three were so successful, we invited them to be permanent jewelers, represented by us,” Le Van says.
  • A full house: The place was packed throughout the day, drawing a crowd of about 250 in total. Mora had never welcomed so many people into the store at one time.
  • A selling event: Business was way up.
  • A versatile idea: “We liked it so much, we’re going to do it again this year,” Le Van says. “And it doesn’t need to be Christmas-themed in Asheville. We can try it in the middle of summer.”

Do It Yourself: Thinking Local All Year Long

  • Consider mixing up your inventory as Christmas approaches, if only for a day, to make your store the one-stop solution for gift ideas.
  • Promote your store as a place to buy local, all year round.
  • Set aside a day or a case to showcase the work of local artists.
  • Like a traditional trunk show, make sure the artists or designers are on hand to tell stories about the jewelry, and meet and greet their fans.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.



Wilkerson Testimonials

If It’s Time to Consolidate, It’s Time to Call Wilkerson

When Tom Moses decided to close one of the two Moses Jewelers stores in western Pennsylvania, it was time to call in the experts. After reviewing two candidates, Moses, a co-owner of the 72 year-old business, decided to go with Wilkerson. The sale went better than expected. Concerned about running it during the pandemic, Moses says it might have helped the sale. “People wanted to get out, so there was pent-up demand,” he says. “Folks were not traveling so there was disposable income, and we don’t recall a single client commenting to us, feeling uncomfortable. It was busy in here!” And perhaps most importantly, Wilkerson was easy to deal with, he says, and Susan, their personal Wilkerson consultant, was knowledgeable, organized and “really good.” Now, the company can focus on their remaining location — without the hassle of carrying over merchandise that either wouldn’t fit or hadn’t sold. “The decision to hire Wilkerson was a good one,” says Moses.

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