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How to Judge a Good Strip Mall Location and More of Your Questions Answered

Need to stamp your culture on a new hire or escape the discounting trap? Read on.




How to Judge a Good Strip Mall Location and More of Your Questions Answered

We’d like to ensure we’re seen as an environmentally conscious jeweler. Where should we start?

If you are jumping on the green bandwagon because it seems the thing to do in 2024, you run the risk of being exposed by customers who know their BPA-free water bottles from the less environment-friendly kind. Steve Robbins, director of sustainability at branding consultancy Willoughby Design, recommends that when building your “green” brand, you work from the inside out. Start small and get everyone on board. That can mean acts as simple as sorting your plastic from your paper or using vegetable-oil based printer ink, to a program as comprehensive as an energy audit. “When a client visits us, for example, we bring a pitcher of ice water and lemons to the meeting room, instead of bottled water,” said Robbins. “It’s a small modification that takes no extra time or inconvenience, but it says a lot to people about our business. In addition, it also helps reduce costs.” Once you’ve got the home front organized, you can move on to evaluating the products you sell, and finally communicating your commitment to the environment, Robbins says.

I’m looking at a new strip mall location. What should I be taking into consideration?

David Brown of the Edge Retail Academy recommends that you first identify if this is a “service” or “shopping” mall, meaning are people going there to pick up a newspaper, do some grocery shopping, perhaps visit a dentist’s clinic, or are they going there because they are in “buying mode”? Once you’ve got that settled, you can start to consider the details, such as is it a good retail space? “A space that is 15-feet wide by 150-feet deep is a difficult space to lay out well,” says Ruth Mellergaard, a principal at design company GRID/3. She advises you also look into the signage restrictions in the strip center and county as well as find out exactly what the landlord is providing for you in terms of ADA compliant bathrooms, drywall on the demising walls, and air-conditioning systems (will it be powerful enough to cool a jewelry store?). It’s a good idea to monitor the location at different times of the day to ensure, for example, that a mall restaurant at one end of the mall doesn’t use up all the parking for lunch and dinner. Finally, take your time. If you have to decide today, you may miss something much better.

I’ve got a string of black-tie events coming up. What’s the deal on getting a tux? Can I just show up in dark jacket and white shirt? I’m an artist, after all.

Unless you can pull it off with the flair of Johnny Depp, we suggest you follow one of the basic rules of etiquette: When in doubt, overdress. The classic penguin suit is a single-breasted peak-lapel jacket paired with a French-cuff shirt. If you have some formal weddings or other events on your calendar this summer, you might want to consider buying your own tux and having it tailored. (Wear it six times and it’s paid for itself.) Final piece of advice: Your shirtsleeves should reach the base of your wrist bone, with a quarter inch of cuff showing. You don’t want to look as if you’ve arrived at your junior prom.

I seem to be stuck in a cycle of bring it in, mark it up and mark it down. How do I get to genuine profitability?

Discounting. It is damaging to profitability, lowers the expectations of your customers, hurts your store’s brand equity and is usually unavoidable, because having the same boring inventory sitting in your cases month after month will wreak similar havoc on your business. The secret is to be prudent with your initial inventory (meaning buy according to your sales records) and then to optimally discount. That means keeping the sale short, marketing it properly, being smart (don’t discount hot sellers), targeting your best customers first (hold a customer appreciation night), being creative (bundle, offer fun spiffs to staff), exploring all the options (eBay, bartering) and knowing what drives your customers. In other words, the alternative to reflexive discounting is a lot of hard work.

How do I instill the right attitudes of diligence and playfulness in new staff right from Day One?

Conventional wisdom says the boss sets the cultural tone, but in reality, workers look sideways rather than up when searching for cues about what’s expected. To take advantage of this, make sure the person your new recruit sees on their first weeks when they glance sideways is your best worker. Assign a new benchie to sit next to your top jeweler or a new sales hire to shadow your sales gun and sit back and watch as a positive understanding of what’s expected in terms of results, punctuality and initiative takes root. Of course, if you’ve hired the wrong person, none of this is going to happen. The debate over hiring often focuses on the question of skills or personality. Hiring for culture is equally important. If a candidate is qualified but doesn’t seem to be buying into your store’s mission, keep looking. To help with your search, we recommend former Starbucks executive Howard Behar’s book, It’s Not About The Coffee, which lays out how the coffee giant instilled its friendly culture in tens of thousands of employees.




She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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