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“I Do Not Reorder Pieces”: Heresy or Genius?

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Inventory experts would have you reorder every fast-selling piece in your store – and they’re generally right. However, when it comes to designer jewelry, Ellen Hertz of Max’s in Minneapolis says she never reorders a piece. It’s got to do with exclusivity and originality. Says Hertz: “Our designers have to come up with new designs if they want me to keep buying from them. To me, the value proposition for customers is that they get to see new stuff every time, so they’ll keep coming back. And, they won’t see the same piece worn by their friends around town."

As a former America’s Coolest Stores winner and one of the most honored designer boutiques in the country, Ellen must be doing something right – or a lot of things. Here are a few other comments (some of them decidedly counter to conventional wisdom) that she had about her success selling designer jewelry.

"Exclusivity to our area is critical. One of my goals when I started Max’s was to make our selection different from what was available in more traditional jewelry stores or what can be found in nearby specialty boutiques. I try really hard to find designers that shoppers won’t have seen elsewhere in the Twin Cities. When I meet new designers at trade shows, the first thing I ask is if they’re selling to someone else in the Twin Cities. If they say ‘yes’, I walk away."

“If you have a $1,000 design in silver next to the same design in gold for $3,000, customers want the gold. At that price point, silver just doesn’t make sense to customers — they’ll spend more for the gold, or not buy it at all."

The biggest mistake a retailer can make when adding a new designer line? To go into the line too cautiously in terms of amount of pieces or the product mix without having anything that stands out as a showpiece or eye-catcher for that line. “Once you’re into higher-end designer jewelry, you have to be willing to make a commitment. A couple of small rings and earrings aren’t going to garner the attention you need to make a high-priced line worthwhile."

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"The one thing I’d say to a retailer who’s never sold designer jewelry but is interested in adding a new line is this: they have to like the line themselves. I would go so far as to say, especially when they’re just starting out, that they probably should like it enough that they could see themselves buying it and wearing it proudly. I always say to people, I like everything I’ve bought for my store. It doesn’t mean I’d necessarily buy everything I see in my store, but I like it. I like the design, the quality, and the story. When you love a line, you can translate its value more easily to your staff as well."


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