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Cool Store: Leonard Jewelry

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Cool Store: Leonard Jewelry

BY LORRAINE DePASQUE

Published in the July 2012 issue

URL: leonardjewelry.com | Owner: Kent and Annette Kinzie | Founded: 1964 | Renovated Featured Location 2003 and 2011 | Area 4,700 square feet  | Employees: 4 full-time, 2 part-time | Brands: Oklahoma State University Jewelry Collection, Pandora, Natalie K Bridal, Bastian, Petra Azar, Jorge Revilla, Arista, Michael Kors Watches, Signature Leonard Watches | Tagline: “There’s more to Love at Leonard Jewelry”

In the fall of 2010 , when the owners of Leonard Jewelry brought in the licensed Oklahoma State University Collection of fine jewelry, it kick-started a new era for their business. Kent and Annette Kinzie recall that, although the changes ahead were challenging, the timing seemed perfect. “We’d been planning on getting into social-media marketing in a big way,” says Annette, “and this collection that celebrates our Cowboys football team had the right energy, local tie-in potential, and marketability to our college-town market.” So starting with the new product, the Kinzies developed a game plan of strong socialmedia promotion as well as a Facebook app to sell the collection online. “Our new mindset also involved a huge renovation for the store, even though we’d remodeled in 2003.” The 2011 redesign project more than doubled the size of the shop and expanded their selling space to a second level, enabling Leonard Jewelry to house the exclusive line of OSU jewelry in a room of its own. Without question, it was “game on”!

Five Cool Things

1THE GAME-CHANGING COLLECTION When Leonard became the exclusive jeweler in Stillwater, OK, for the licensed OSU Cowboys jewelry line, it gave the store a product with a point of difference, but what especially appealed to the Kinzies was the partnering in promotion that came with it. “The college advertises the jewelry in all its football programs and on the pre-game TV talk shows,” Annette explains. “And on our radio spots and in our ads, we promote it. On game days, we sell our jewelry at the football stadium. Having this collection has really expanded our revenue more than we expected. We’ve reached a new audience of alumni that are passionate about OSU.” Additionally, it laid the foundation for coming up with unique special events for Leonard Jewelry to host. For example, at an in-store “Coaches’ Wives Party,” customers were introduced to wives of the OSU coaches, followed by a jewelry drawing. “And of course we served ‘orange crush’ soda!”

2ON-POINT WITH SOCIAL MEDIA Since 1985, when Annette and Kent purchased Leonard Jewelry, they’d done a lot of TV, radio and print promotion. But early last year, they began replacing much of their traditional media marketing with a multi-level program of new media. “We started with a new website, then eased into a Facebook and Twitter presence, then launched “Guest Bloggers” on our website, who ‘talk’ with customers about things like gems and precious metals.” After that, they began making You- Tube videos. “Our daughter, Avery, encouraged us to make these. ‘It’s OK to make mistakes on the videos — don’t worry about it; just do them,’ she said. And so I did. In the videos, I talk about everything from our newest engagement styles to our signature “Adura” diamond to inviting people to our store’s open house to see the remodeling.” Early this year, Leonard Jewelry launched a monthly online newsletter. “It helps build that personal connection with our customers. In February, in honor of Valentine’s Day, for example, we put up pictures of our customers with personal ‘love stories,’ including couples of all ages, from young newlyweds to those celebrating milestone anniversaries.”

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3ACCENT ON ACCESSIBILITY “By remodeling, we more than doubled our shopping space and, for the first time, opened a second level,” Annette says. “But we were very careful not to appear like we were creating the Taj Mahal! We’re a family jeweler in the middle of Main Street, so our goal was to make the store friendly, comfortable, and inviting.” And since she and Kent were very clear on that vision, Annette, who holds degrees in fashion merchandising and marketing, decided to design the space herself, without the input of an interior designer. “Throughout the entire store, linen is the main shade. Downstairs, I concentrated on an environment with very little color in order to invite an easygoing shopping experience. Upstairs — which we call “The Loft at Leonards,” I wanted to make open and accessible. It includes a big room that only showcases the OSU jewelry.” Appropriately, it features the Cowboy logo colors of orange, black and white. “Underscoring the relaxing atmosphere, we have black leather seating and barstools, and a TV, of course, because we invite people to come down and join us and watch the games!”

4COMMUNITY SPIRIT “It’s important for us to be part of our community,” Annette says, noting that Kent belongs to many local organizations, including the Downtown Stillwater Business Development District, the Convention and Visitors Board, and the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce. Their special events have traditionally tied in with the area — even before their launch of the OSU jewelry collection and football-related events. They regularly form partnerships for special events with other retailers and organizations, like the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, a local cooking school, a wine bar, restaurants, a balloon company and floral designers.

5HIGH SCORE FOR THE FACEBOOK STORE Leonard doesn’t have e-commerce on their website but, using a Facebook app, they sell their OSU collection online. “With our Facebook store, which we launched last October, we’ve definitely gotten more college clientele,” Annette says. “Typically, students stay on campus, but now we find more are coming in to buy gifts for their mom and friends — mostly female.” Leonard sells only the OSU collection via its Facebook store, but there are at least 20 pages of selections, each with a description and a “want it” or “own it” choice to click on, providing the retailer with additional information on its customer base.

Five Questions With Annette Kinzier

1HOW DID YOUR STORE SURVIVE THE RECESSION?:We pretty much stopped purchasing “trend” and went back to basics. We’d been a very big brand store in both jewelry and watches but, to stay afloat, we decided to do more bread-and-butter. Lots of bridal and anniversary jewelry and diamond solitaire pendants and studs — items that aren’t necessarily trendy that people can hand down to the next generation.

2AT ONE TIME, YOU WERE STUDYING FOR YOUR PhD AND PLANNING TO TEACH. ANY REGRETS?: I loved teaching young people, but I don’t think I would have been happier doing that. Besides, in this business, I often do get to teach young people about jewelry — the different cuts, gemstones, marks of quality. And they’re very interested in learning!

3IS THERE SOMETHING YOU ESPECIALLY LIKE ABOUT YOUR RECENT STORE RENOVATION?: I love our expansion upstairs, but when we did that, we also renovated downstairs. I’m glad we decided to keep the lower level with very little color. It allows jewelry in the showcases to pop. The color is simple and soothing — something we can live with for a long time and work with and embellish later, if we want.

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4TELL US ONE THING ABOUT THIS BUSINESS YOU FIND PARTICULARLY EXCITING.: Colored gemstones. Kent and I still go to shows together, but we used to travel to more places — Brazil, Belgium, Germany and Tucson — and we both found it such fun to see so many unusual and interesting stones. We don’t make custom jewelry now, but if I could pick and choose what I do, I’d custom-create around beautiful gems.

5WHEN PEOPLE ASK ABOUT YOUR LINE OF WORK, WHAT DO YOU USUALLY TELL THEM?:Right away they think it’s glamorous, mysterious, and exotic. It is, but I always add that it takes a lot of dedication and focus — and that I’m glad I’m in the business with my husband because it really helps that we can bounce ideas off each other.

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