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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.



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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