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Tip Sheet

A Trick for Buying Smarter at Shows … and More May Tips for Jewelers

Prepare a portfolio to present your store to prospective vendors.





Buy Smart at Shows

Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A restaurants and a member of the Forbes 400, says one of the secrets of his success was: “Don’t get overexcited by what you are doing.” Reason: You’re likely to borrow yourself into debt, give yourself sleepless nights worrying about how you’re going to meet repayments and generally make life miserable for yourself and family. What’s that got to do with Vegas? Everything. Our No. 1 show tip every year is: Buy smart, buy based on your data and best sellers, and leave just a little left over to splurge on your hunches. Such advice made Cathy a billionaire.

Press Play

Be a Pundit

We can see the intro now: “Jewelry purchases may not be on top of most people’s minds right now, but Janie Johnson, just back from the world’s biggest jewelry show ….” Before you leave, get in touch with your local newspaper and promise to come back with something interesting from the wider world about recession-era fashion trends.


Serious Business?


Ready a Store CV

Prepare a portfolio to present to prospective vendors. Inside should be a letter of introduction that contains information about your store’s history, the demographics of your market, other brands you carry, and your business’s credit ratings. Also, include marketing and promotional campaigns you’ve carried out and copies of magazine articles that mention your store or staff. (Another reason to join the Brain Squad, hint, hint). And if you really want to go the extra yard, prepare a detailed report of your inventory. That should tell the vendor you’re serious.

No Bluffing?

Tell the Truth

Deception tactics, such as bluffing or falsification, may do more damage than good in the vendor-negotiation process. Lying is not only unethical, but it can be difficult to maintain. While being honest, be careful not to give away your bargaining power. It’s not necessary to tell everything you know, but when you do tell… tell the truth.

Profits All Around


Be Ready to Compromise

Just like the retailer, the vendor must make a profit to stay in business. Vendor relations should be treated as collaboration rather than conquest. As you negotiate a good deal for your retail business, consider the outcome for the supplier.

Phone Smarts

Go High-Tech

Whether you just don’t like taking notes, or your pen runs dry during a meeting with vendors, your phone could come to the rescue. In addition to using its camera to take photos of merchandise (always ask first), a high-resolution camera will allow you to take snapshots of brochures, notes, displays and other documents. If you want to take that to another level, services such as Qipit or Scanr allow you to convert those pictures to a clearer PDF form. You can save the images online or deliver them as e-mails or faxes back to the team in the store to get their feedback.


Trend Spotter


Share the Wisdom

On your return, mail or e-mail a trends report to customers based on your show buying. The Jewelry Information Center offers its retail members two seasonal trends reports that they can customize and use to send out to customers, with a headline something like: “Hottest Trends Straight From the Las Vegas Jewelry and Watch Shows.”



Just because you ordered it at the show, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. After the show, go over your orders, reevaluate them and adjust them if needed. Vendors understand this is just good business.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at



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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