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Create Better Surprises With Your Gift Boxes … and More Fresh Ideas for April

Plus, how to use a recession to find better talent.

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CONTRARIAN THINKING

Go Poaching

When the economy slows, most businesses instinctively look to cut costs and freeze hiring. But a recession can be a good time to take on new staff, specifically your rival’s best performers. “A downturn can be an excellent time to poach,” because other companies are trimming bonuses or other benefits or even pay, writes economist Ram Krishnan in a recent edition of Forbes magazine. When things slow down, keep one eye on the future.

JAILBIRD WISDOM

Forget Time

The late electrical engineer and inventor Jacob Rabinow used an interesting mental technique to slow himself down when he was on a job that required more endurance than intuition: He’d pretend he was in jail, Psychology Today reported in a recent edition. “If I’m in jail, time is of no consequence. In other words, if it takes a week to cut this, it’ll take a week. What else have I got to do? This is a kind of mental trick. Otherwise you say, ‘My God, it’s not working,’ and then you make mistakes,” he once said. It probably goes without saying, Rabinow didn’t promise three-day turnarounds.

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IT’S A WRAP

Disguise A Gift

Here’s a variation on the jewelry-gift prank in which a ring or pendant is placed inside a series of successively smaller boxes and 17 layers of wrapping paper: Joke gift boxes from theonion.com. The empty boxes claim to hold, in The Onion’s words, “crappy bric-a-brac” such as a 28-piece professional whisk set. Perfect for that specially created 6-carat diamond and gold bracelet from Marco Bicego.

CALL TO ACTION

Leave Phone Bait

Caller ID, voicemail, receptionists … it can be tough getting through to a person these days. Gene Spath from Spath Jewelers in Bartow, FL, says he always tries to leave customers with a reason to take action when he calls. “So, if I am calling a customer to let them know we got new inventory, I would say, ‘Hi, this is Gene from Spath Jewelers. I have some exciting information for you if you could call me back.’ That way when they call back you can speak to them directly and explain what that exciting news is.”

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ZIP, LOCK AND LOAD

Go Prospecting

With gold at historic highs, Ronald Scott of Scott’s Jewelry, goes prospecting — in the community around his Americus, GA, store. Scott hands out “gold mining kits” — Ziploc bags with his business card in it — to everyone he meets and urges them to bring in whatever’s lying at the bottom of their jewelry boxes. “Most customers are very surprised at what they can get for that old chain,” he says, adding that the ploy often generates appraisals and repairs too.

HANDS-ON

Book A Massage

If you’ve read INSTORE over the years, you’ll know we’re big fans of massages; either for yourself after a long day at work, as an inducement to get customers in the store, or as a spiff for staff during the holiday sales period. Many balk at the idea, however, because of the price and concerns about finding a reputable massage therapist. If that’s you, take a look at amtamassage.org, which features a locator service for qualified providers and fees. On-site massage rates vary by location — expect hourly rates of about $75 and up. (A therapist will typically fit in three 15-minute massages per hour.)

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SPLASH OF PAINT

Rent a Masterpiece

Your store is more than a retail outlet, it’s a gallery for beautiful expressions of human creativity. So why not ramp up the ambience with some serious artwork for your walls? A number of major art museums have rental programs, and many will even help you choose the best pieces for your space. The Artists Gallery at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, for example, charges about $350 to rent a $5,000 painting for three months. Photos are even cheaper. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, and the Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin all have rental programs, as do many community galleries that support local artists.

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Wilkerson Testimonials

A Liquidation Sale during a Pandemic? Wilkerson Showed Them the Way

For 25 years, Stafford Jewelers of Cincinnati, Ohio, was THE place to go for special gifts, engagement diamonds, high-end Swiss watch brands — in other words, the crème de la crème of fine jewelry. But this summer, the Stafford family was ready to retire. So, they chose Wilkerson to help them close up shop. “One of the biggest concerns was having the sale in the middle of COVID,” says Director of Stores Michelle Randle. Wilkerson gave the Stafford team plenty of ideas as well as safety guidelines, which they closely followed. “All of the employees felt safe, the customers coming in the door felt safe and we did a lot of business,” says Randle. How much business? “The inventory flew,” she says. Translation: They sold millions and millions of dollars-worth of merchandise. Randle calls it, “an incredible experience.” Would she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers who are thinking of thinning their inventories or retiring? “Everyone got more than what they expected out of the sale. You have to hire Wilkerson. They’re amazing.”

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