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If I Owned a
Jewelry Store

A rock star, celebrity stylist and luxury consultant share their jewelry-store dreams

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THERE’S AN OLD SAYING: “You can’t read the label if you’re sitting inside the jar.” By definition, you’re “inside the jar” of your business. Which is why it can be so powerful to gather opinions and feedback from those who don’t live and breathe in it the way you do.

For years, INSTORE’s sister publication, INDESIGN, ran a regular section called “If I Owned a Jewelry Store,” featuring essays from authors, business leaders, celebrities — heck, once we even had a museum curator. (To read these, including articles from thought-leaders like Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Jeffrey Gitomer, Kathy Ireland, Ivanka Trump and many more visit http//instoremag.com/ifIowned

With jewelry retailing now undergoing an evolution of sorts, we thought now would be the perfect time to bring back this concept in the pages of INSTORE.

So go ahead: climb outside that jar and see what’s on the label!

Billy Gibbons

vocalist and guitarist, zz top

BILLY GIBBONS, vocalist and guitarist for ZZ Top, has teamed up with goldsmith and retailer Amber Gustafson of Houston to launch a line of jewelry with a “hot-rodded mindset”, which will be available on his website http//www.billygibbons.com He favors heavyweight creations set with gemstones and finely braided leather wraps intertwined with “some mean-machined imagery.” If he did open a store, he’d even like to work there. “The surroundings of shiny things make for an appealing experience,” Gibbons says. “And that ain’t work!”

Of course, my store would have a rock ‘n roll theme. Bigger is better. Louder is a must! We really do enjoy the high energy and emotion that means rock ‘n roll. ZZ Top’s brand of rock keeps our attention toward the big and bold.

  • The Location: Running ZZ Top for four decades now has taken us ‘round the globe to some stunning locales, many of which have become regular getaways on and off the touring trail. That being said, the desert Southwest still holds a mystical allure. The quality of light across the desert ignites a gleam on fine gemstones that can’t be beat. An enclosed space with lots of glass on all sides would make a good start at getting an interior glow just right.
  • The Experience: Comfortable seating would be a must. There’s nothing better than a relaxing space to create a casual experience. Polished concrete floors are beginning to take the place of cushy, carpeted pathways, which makes for a sharp contrast to the elegance of fine jewelry. I’d have flat screen TVs at every turn, and the darkened end of a side room featuring a bar with everything chilled to perfection. I am, of course, partial to musical accompaniment. High-quality sound in a store ups the ante without question.
  • The Staff: Staff would have to know the stock. Everything from “where does it come from?” to “What can be expected from the item?”
  • Quality: Despite the notion of rapidly changing trends in style and design, the aim and demand for quality remains constant and unchanged. Placing quality as a cornerstone ensures a positive feeling for any customer.
  • The Silver Summit Seven: I’m still pals with a gang of designing understudies who all came into the West Coast wave of silver creations started by the master, Gabor Nagy and his lab known as “The Gaboratory.” Seven of us learned wax carving, casting, polishing and presentation. Ryk Maverick, Bill Wall, Travis Walker, Reid Roland, Mitch Binder, Dennis Polichino and me. The Silver Summit Seven. Bold and chunky works became the expression. Gerry Van Amburg handled the leather part of the operation. We’re all still in touch and have continued the tradition in Gabor’s memory. I’ve also enjoyed a successful, long-standing collaboration with Amber Gustafson and her award-winning work. It’s a rewarding partnership.
  • Lighting: A show-biz display is always intriguing. We get to see all the latest and greatest developments in lighting for stage presentations, which is not so far removed from the environment where jewelry is found.
  • Events: The ever-popular cocktail soiree works wonders to get the party started. We attended the opening of Mitch Binder’s King Baby retail operation in Beijing earlier this year, which was quite the glam and glitzy affair. Mingling with friends, surrounded by fine design, hit the spot.
  • The Shop: A genuine workspace offers an escape into the realm of the creative when the energy strikes. 
  • The Message: Marketing would be low-key word-of-mouth. Ain’t nothing like having good scuttlebutt hit the streets.
  • Merchandise: Maintaining a willingness to experiment with materials in exotic, non-traditional techniques is the challenge. Let the design speak and aim to remain genuine. Stay focused and have a good time.
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Michael O’Connor

celebrity stylist, designer, marketer

If I owned a jewelry store, I would want the store to be perceived as much more in a fashion realm than in a jewelry realm. It would be customer-friendly and at ease. I’d want to take away that stigma of not being able to touch or interact with the jewelry or having to ask a salesperson to be able to see and touch it.

For over 30 years, MICHAEL O’CONNOR has promoted the jewelry industry as a designer, marketer and a celebrity stylist, showcasing jewelry internationally on television, radio, online and in print. O’Connor works with designers, manufacturers and retailers, helping them to create and evolve their brands, position, target market and to generate awareness and desire. O’Connor has recently launched a line of jewelry under his own name on Jewelry Television in partnership with Premier Jewelry Co. “The brand is based upon my design background, as well as my background in celebrity styling and red-carpet experiences,” O’Connor says.

  • A Tactile Experience: Although you can’t get away from showcases because it’s necessary to have jewelry locked under glass, I would try to set myself a price or dollar limit for what gets put under glass. If something sells within a particular dollar amount, I would put it into an area where it is watched, but where people can freely pick it up and try it on. That experiential feel is what causes you to try on clothing. I’d like shoppers to feel like they can pick things up, play with them and try them on without a tremendous amount of issues.
  • Fashion-Style Displays: I’d display things more like a fashion store. In jewelry stores, often there is the ring case, the pendant case and the earring case. Instead, I would try to do things in terms of suites. I’d perhaps partner with a local clothing or accessory store and instead of just having the neck form or the earring form, I might have a bust form in a larger showcase and show clothing with necklaces and a pair of earrings and bracelets and maybe a ring. And in showcases, I would want to show things that work complementarily. I would display them from a trend perspective; I’d mix in tear sheets from fashion magazines or do something digitally, where you would have a fashion show on one side and jewelry pieces on the other side.
  • Create a Relationship: Some jewelers do a phenomenal job of creating a relationship with the customer. I correlate that experience to my experience in Hollywood with celebrities. It’s not uncommon to hear of companies who pay a celebrity to wear pieces. What always strikes me is that there are many celebrities who could get paid to wear it, but instead they come to me for an honest opinion because of that relationship cultivated over years. They know that I will not force them into something that isn’t perfect for them. I would want to do the same thing in a jewelry store: cultivate long-term relationships so the customers would feel that we were not trying just to make a sale. We would say, “I know that you collect this kind of thing,” or “I’m not going to push you in this direction or that direction but bring you a product that is right for you.”
  • Look to a Younger Demographic: The bridal segment is the bread and butter of most stores. But your relationship needs to start with a consumer much earlier these days than previously thought. Years ago, the age of marriage was younger than it is today and stores used bridal product as “the gateway”. Now the average age of marriage is in the 29 to 30-plus range, so we are losing a lot of ground by cultivating customers only from that point. We need to reach younger consumers in high school and early college and build a fashion and affordable gifting relationship with them. These kids are spending disproportionate amounts of their incomes on things that are fascinating to them like clothes, electronics and handbags — why not jewelry? I would try to get younger consumers into the store through events to build relationships with them so that by the time they are ready to be engaged or married, I already have that relationship. Building relationships with the customers very early on might mean carrying pieces that are bridge or costume for the younger people. The fact is, that’s the customer right now who IS looking for jewelry. If you go into stores like PacSun that cater to the teen market, you’ll see T-shirts and you’ll see walls and walls of jewelry. We should be helping these kids to start thinking about jewelry as an extension of fashion.

 

Pam Danziger

luxury marketing expert, author

PAM DANZIGER, author of Shops That Pop! 7 Steps To Extraordinary Retail Success, is a luxury marketing expert and founder of Unity Marketing. Her most recent book reveals the secrets to crafting a retail shopping experience that’s irresistible to high-value shoppers.

If I owned a jewelry store, I’d want it to be an extraordinarily different kind of jewelry store. I’d want it located on an active “Main Street” surrounded by other extraordinary shops, boutiques, pubs, restaurants and other places that attract guests with fun things to do and see. I’d want my store to be an exciting place where people can experience jewelry shopping in a brand new way. I’d make my jewelry shop pop!

Retail today has evolved from a product business to a people business. When people simply want a product, they can get it “Internet-easy, Internet-fast.” Going shopping today is a choice, not a necessity. So I’d make the shopping experience rewarding, engaging and personally satisfying. Sure, I’d want to have cool jewelry, but I know that the success of my jewelry store will hinge not on what I sell, but how I sell it. That means putting people, both the shoppers and the staff, first. In other words, the product follows, rather than leads.

My plan to open a jewelry store starts with the three R’s — Research the opportunity; Reimagine what a wonderful jewelry shopping experience should be; and Recruit the right people to populate my store, both customers and staff. Let’s break the three R’s plan down:

  • Research The Opportunity: Market research is the first step in planning a store that will be successful. It needs to be located where there is plenty of traffic, and not just any traffic, but the right kind of traffic — where the affluent shoppers in the community are drawn. I’d research the direct competition, conducting discreet secret shopper research, browsing the stores, interacting with the staff and generally studying what those stores are doing right and wrong, and how I could do it better. I’d also take every opportunity to talk to people in the community who look like the kind of shoppers I want to attract. I’d identify them by their distinctive jewelry and chat them up, starting with compliments on their jewelry to lead to deeper discussion about where they found it and what makes it special. As a researcher, I find most people are more than willing to share if you approach them with authentic interest.
  • Reimagine The Shopping Experience: I’d throw the traditional jewelry store model out the window and start with a clean slate. I’d look outside to get inspiration for distinctive ways to merchandise and display jewelry. Art galleries present interesting ways to get jewelry out of the traditional glass counter displays and up on the walls to put jewelry at eye level. This is an innovative model that the Hearts on Fire diamond boutiques are doing with cases mounted on the walls. New York City-based Doyle & Doyle displays its vintage jewelry in picture frames on the walls so that shoppers examine the heirloom pieces at eye level. Framing the jewelry elevates the piece from simply an object to a piece of art. Home décor stores inspire new display ideas by making maximum use of color. Traditional jewelry stores tend to arrange displays by gemstones, but I’d use a color-wheel concept. Jewelry shoppers, especially men looking for a gift, may not know specific gemstones, but they do know color, so I’d arrange my wall-mounted jewelry cases to make the most impact of color: blue stones, purple stones, clear stones, yellow and red stones displayed together with low, mid and high-priced jewelry featured in one wall-mounted display.In merchandising my jewelry store, I’d favor handcrafted jewelry collections from artisans. This will give me unique stories to tell about each piece, stories about who crafted it and their inspiration in its creation. In this way, the jewelry artisan becomes “hero,” and the jewelry piece becomes a way the customer can share in the artisan’s creative expression.
  • Recruit the Right People: Because retail is primarily a people, not a product, business, the people part of the business is where I will focus my attention, both to attract customers and to attract the staff to service them. First, I would look for genuinely warm, friendly, open and people-pleasing people to hire. I wouldn’t worry about jewelry-sales experience, since that can be taught. People either have the essential qualities of warmth and genuine friendliness that will make the store successful or they don’t.The next priority is attracting customers. The only way to guarantee people will come in is to be open when they are passing by; that means being open evenings when the pubs and restaurants are busy. For my store’s opening, I’d make the whole first month my focus with special events. I’d buy a list of affluent, higher-income women in my area (household income $100,000-plus) and mail a postcard invitation to announce the opening. Then I would collect contact information for all my guests, offering a weekly raffle to give away a special jewelry piece throughout the month Finally, to keep the excitement going, I’d host monthly gallery openings showcasing one artisan’s special collection. I would do everything possible to forge a connection between my artisans and my customers. In this way, I would put the people first in my jewelry shop — all the people that impact my business, including staff, customers and artisans. That is how I would make my jewelry shop pop!

If We Owned a Jewelry Store

INSTORE editors take a crack at reinventing the traditional jewelry store model

OVER THE YEARS, we’ve read insights from a lot of experts. We’ve had the pleasure of reading about many, many jewelers doing cool things. We’ve done stories on how to improve each and every area of a jewelry retail business. We’ve delivered tips and advice from outside the jewelry industry.

So now, it’s our turn. Here’s how the editors at INSTORE would imagine our own jewelry stores.

 

Imagined by

Eileen McClelland

Lately, I’m finding inspiration in quirky, handmade jewelry cases, stores that emphasize their artistic side and retailers who offer extreme hospitality (i.e., they have their own full-service bars).

If I owned a jewelry store, I’d like to incorporate those three ideas.

When I walk into a jewelry store that exudes personality, I’m always surprised and transfixed. When I recently saw New Orleans designer Ashley Porter’s take on a jewelry case — a glass box held aloft by a giant, carved-wood ostrich — I laughed out loud. Late last year, Porter opened her first store, called Porter-Lyons, in the French Quarter. Each piece of jewelry Porter designs has its own story related to the city itself, so sales associates never lack for a conversational gambit.

If I owned a jewelry store, I’d like to feature pieces that come with interesting stories, and décor that is distinctive and locally crafted, if possible.

Also, since I do live in New Orleans, which celebrates the cocktail, I’d like to have a bar, where regular shoppers can relax.

Self-purchasing women in particular like to chill while they’re shopping. We’ve become accustomed to sipping mimosas while having a spa pedicure, or being offered bottled water, at least, at a boutique. When Thomas Mann of Thomas Mann I/O Gallery in New Orleans hosts a special event in his space on Magazine Street, he cooks for guests and mixes drinks in his on-site kitchen. I don’t think you necessarily have to be a millennial to want to make brick and mortar shopping into an experience.

Artist Thomas Mann, an America’s Coolest Store winner in 2016, makes all of his own jewelry displays.

I like jewelry stores that have been able to incorporate the idea of art into their experience, too, whether the art is jewelry or another medium. Ariodante Gallery on Julia Street, New Orleans’ gallery row, specializes in jewelry and has a monthly art opening that often features the new work of a jewelry artist. Approaching a trunk show as an art opening could generate extra excitement. 

Finally, as someone who enjoys living downtown more often than not, I’m partial to pedestrian-friendly locations surrounded by activity, where creative display windows can make a big impact, and where you might just catch a glimpse of a brass band or a parade on the street. For me, it’s all part of the shopping experience.

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IMAGINED BY

Trace Shelton

Creativity. Stories. Personal style. The new generation of jewelry buyer wants these things, so that’s what I’d give them.

Could custom jewelry capability and an array of fine designer jewelry coexist? Why not? I would also offer fashion jewelry as a point of entry into self-purchase. Between the three categories, clients can build a look suited to their unique tastes and desires, and they’ll also identify with the stories and inspirations of our designers or participate in their own story through custom design.

Alexander Wang in New York goes green.

The store itself would be free-flowing and winding, utilizing stand-up and wall cases and incorporating full-length mirrors so that clients can see how an entire outfit looks with their jewelry. I would actually avoid technology like iPads and touch-screens because the particular experience in my store is organic. I want clients to feel the precious metals, peer into the gemstones, and get lost inside their own imaginations. Reconnect with the material world through tactile sensation.

Gasia in Istanbul (left) and Belfry Tashkent Jeweller in Uzbekistan.

If our competition is the Internet, let’s give our new generation of clientele an experience they could never find online — a fun, earthy adventure where touch and feel are intrinsic while keyboards and monitors belong somewhere else entirely.

IMAGINED BY

David Squires

If I owned a store? My first mission would be to stand out. And the only way to stand out is to do something in an extraordinary manner.

It’s the Seth Godin thing, the “Purple Cow” thing. It was one of the first books I read after starting INSTORE Magazine, and it remains one of the most influential to me. (Along with Godin’s follow-up, Free Prize Inside.)

When you see a brown cow, you say “Oh.” When you see a purple cow, you say “whoa!”

If I owned a store, I would seek “whoa!”

I would not compete on price or on breadth of selection. It is hard (or expensive) to achieve “whoa!” in those areas.

My competitive strength would probably be somewhere in the area of service or customer experience. I might do one of the following things to become a Purple Cow in my county, state or even region:

  • My trunk shows would have the biggest celebrity designers my area has ever seen.
  • I would have a free makeover/try-on-jewelry night where I brought together my town’s best hairdressers/make-up artists. And no one would be allowed to try on a piece of jewelry on these evenings unless they were made over first.
  • I would have a “try before you buy” system where people could take jewelry home for a month. Or I would “guarantee” a compliment on every piece I sell within a month, or you get your money back. 
  • I would pick a very specific niche, style or category and have an amazing selection. Or I would have a very limited selection that was curated tightly, and rotated every month, and since I had so few pieces, every artist’s story would be told as though in a museum.

All of these things are scary. All could fail colossally. My argument is this: if it’s not a bit scary, then what are you doing it for? And if it’s not different from what’s out there, what will people come to you for?

Instead of jewelry stores, I’d look to museums for inspiration. Some offbeat examples: Harlem’s Studio Museum and Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory.

Eyewear brand Gentle Monster would redesign their entire New York city flagship store — spectacularly — every month. 

While my business would be famous for just one or two things, I would also seek to differentiate in as many areas, both big and small, as possible. 

What does my door handle look like? What’s my telephone answering machine message sound like? What’s my 404 error page look like? Could I make my cash register receipts more fun? Multiply by the one thousand details of your store. And refresh all of those details every year or two. Whoa!

IMAGINED BY

Chris Burslem

If I were to take control of a jewelry store in 2017, I think the first thing I would do would be to unofficially change its name to the “Little Jewelry Store of 1,000 Experiments.” 

The old ways of doing business are no longer a guarantee of success, and so it seems the only thing to do is experiment and optimize, experiment and optimize, over and over until we work out the new model.

Let’s start with location. Online retailers like Amazon and Blue Nile are rushing to open brick-and-mortar locations, partly because there are some categories people will always want to touch and try on — clothes, fruit and vegetables, fine jewelry — and partly because the location, location, location rule applies to Google: if you’re not on the first three pages, you’re not seen. And getting there is very expensive for brands. So, whether it’s a revitalized downtown district (my preference), a high-end mall, a smallish city with the right demographic fit, or just getting the right side of the street, a serious study of location — and maybe experimentation with a pop-up — would be in order. Then I’d want to build my online presence. It’s a long shot, but why spurn a potential national or even global market? In the near future, we’ll all be omnichannel retailers.

The path to purchase starts online, and, in jewelry’s case, hopefully ends in your store. But if you are going to bring people into your store, you have to provide better customer service than is available online. I would hire by personality, invest heavily in training, ensure my staff is heavily invested in the store’s success, and give my sales team a simple order: Make sure every customer makes the right choice and enjoys the process. 

Final area: technology. It wouldn’t be obvious — I really like the “industrial throwback” chic of companies like Shinola — but I’d invest hugely in tech. 

It’s said that if Amazon were to manually record all the orders it takes on its Prime Day, it would need a call center manned by 116,000 receptionists. Instead, it has virtually none as its customers do the order placement. Technology, whether it’s a fancy new POS system, a simple time tracker on your phone, or a chat messaging system that allows you to talk to customers and swap illustrated design ideas around the clock, can have a profound impact on your bottom line and your ability to compete. Learn how to harness it. And experiment. And optimize. Over and over.

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If We Didn’t Own a Jewelry Store

Retailers describe their ideal vocations apart from their first love, jewelry.

YOU’VE READ ABOUT what the experts would do if they did own a jewelry store — but what if you didn’t? What if you packed up your showcases, boarded up the windows and said sayonara to the old ball-and-chain (your store, not your spouse) for the last time? Or what if you’d never gone down the path of jewelry retail in the first place? Here’s what some of INSTORE’s Brain Squad would be doing if they didn’t own a jewelry store.

 

Judy Stanley

Skippack Jewelers, Harleysville, PA

“Golfing in the Bahamas.”

Cos Altobelli

Altobelli Jewelers, Burbank, CA

“When I was younger, baseball; I was recruited. I have done this so long I can’t imagine what else I would have done. I’m third generation.”

Mary Jo Chanski

Hannoush Jewelers, Rutland, VT

“I used to want to be a ‘Solid Gold’ dancer. Since that ship has sailed, I probably would have a small diner serving breakfast and lunch, me being the cook, because I shine like a bright diamond in the kitchen.”

Jim Saylor on the water.

Jim Saylor

Jim Saylor Jewelers, Kapaa, HI

“Yacht skipper or builder.”

Jan Carlton

Genesis Jewelry, Muscle Shoals, AL

“In my next life, I’m not going to work 80 hours a week or have a job that requires me to lock everything in a safe a night. I want to come in the door and not need to put everything back in order. I also do not want to be a boss. I want to leave and go home and not think about the store and my customers. I don’t want to work weekends. I think about what I might do if I decided to walk away from the jewelry industry. I know it will not involve retail of any kind. I like the idea of building something.” 

Phil Pancer

Ring Leader Fine Jewellers, Pickering, ON

“I’m actually a photographer by trade. I was one of the photographers for the Toronto Blue Jays as well as the Canadian Olympic team.”

Nicole Shannon

Keir Fine Jewelry, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Raising bees.” 

James Doggett

Doggett Jewelry, Kingston, NH

“I enjoy fine woodworking as a hobby. I always wondered if I could have made a living at it.”

Elysia Demers

Barnhardt Jewelers, Spencer, SC

“Working in preservation of historic homes. It’s seeing the beauty in something old and sentimental and finding a way to fix and preserve it so other people can enjoy it.”

Brian McCall

Midwest Jewelers and Estate Buyers, Zionsville, IN

“I would probably try to learn to be a jeweler.”

WJ Smith III

Smith Jewelers, Franklin, VA

“I’d love to work in a history context in some way. At a museum, or being a re-enactor in Colonial Williamsburg or even at a Civil War or Revolutionary War battlefield park. There are many in Virginia. I’m a history nut!”

Jonathan McCoy is at home in the kitchen.

Jonathan McCoy

McCoy Jewelers, Dubuque, IA

“I would teach cooking classes in Florence, Italy, to tourists and expats.”

Mark Clodius

Clodius & Co. Jewelers, Rockford, IL

“Being an old hippie. Or something in customer service, teacher?”

Matthew Clark

Spath Jewelers, Bartow, FL 

“I would be working in law enforcement of some kind, or I would be using my business degree, which was focused on running a collegiate athletic department.”

Tim Wright

Simply Unique Jewelry Designs, Yorktown, VA

“I would be a chef. I was one in a past life and got tired of working every weekend and every holiday!” 

Jennifer Hornik Johnson

Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT 

“Working in marketing … possibly trying to be a writer. Whatever I’d be doing professionally, though, I’d definitely be traveling the world more.”

J. Dennis Petimezas

Watchmaker’s Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA 

“I would be developing and flipping small homes and apartments, which I did the first five years of my professional jewelry career. When I retire, I will once again begin real estate development company house flipping.”

Kim Hatchell with a few fine wines.

Kim Hatchell

Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC

“A wine taster. Or wine shop owner. I’d love to have a small shop, with bookshelves and couches and tables, cozy and inviting, where people could taste wine, hang out, and buy wine, of course!”

Saro Abrahamian

Town Jewelers, Chevy Chase, MD

“Plumber. I love their $150/hour labor fee, something that’s a fantasy for jewelers.”

Gene Poole

Poole Jewelers, Tuscaloosa, AL

“Playing in a rock band. I put myself through college playing in a rock band, and, at 71, I still play in a rock band. Oldies, of course.”

Shahraz Kassam

Shamin Jewellers, Burnaby, British Columbia

“I would be an architect, designing beautiful homes and buildings instead of beautiful jewelry.”

Mark Thomas Ruby

SunSpirit Designs, Loveland, CO 

“Growing marijuana.”

Steve Stempinski

Steve’s Place, Madison, GA

“I’d operate a dude ranch.”

Beth Guntzviller

Miners North Jewelers, Traverse City, MI 

“I would have been a stay-at-home mom. I see now I missed a lot; I was busy running a jewelry store. I see my kids enjoying their families so much more and balancing work and home.”

Michael Rumanoff

Rumanoff’s Fine Jewelry and Design, Hamden, CT 

“I would be a meteorologist.”

The Best of “If I Owned a Jewelry Store”

Top advice from the past ten years

OVER THE LAST DECADE, a slew of renowned business innovators have taken on the question, “What would I do if I owned a jewelry store?” Here is some of the most insightful advice.

Seth Godin

Cater to jewelry maniacs. These are the women who like buying jewelry more than they like wearing it. In order to do this, you’ll need to figure out who they are and start stocking, displaying and talking about jewelry in terms of trends and seasons and looks. You’ll need to switch from being in the badge business to being in the fashion business.

Erik Wahl 

If I owned a jewelry store, I’d dim the main lights, dump the glass counters, and burn all red signage. Entering the store would be more akin to walking onto a live film set with numerous scenes unfolding before me. I can shake the stained and calloused hand of the miner. I can feel the heat of the metal being forged. I can listen to the stone being cut and watch the shards fall. I can look through the eyes of the artist cobbling together a unique design. I can witness the polished stone being secured into place. Then I can hold the finished work of art.

Ivanka Trump

In Manhattan, high-end stores keep their doors closed, guards at the front, and feature a “man-trap.” I always found it so off-putting and haughty. How could a brand promote a new kind of luxury and still resort to the same old tactics? Our guards wear suits and are well spoken and cordial to our clients. Our doors open without buzzers, and our space is open, soft, bright and feminine.

Mary Lou Quinlan

The ideal store would be indulgently fun. Lately, I have taken up competitive ballroom dancing. And I was amazed at how I, a relatively conservative dresser, could so easily adopt sequins, spray tan and extravagant gowns. That woman is inside all of us. Realize there are two women standing before you: The one you see, and the one she imagines herself to be.

Paco Underhill

Do you have a dressing room where someone can bring a gown and try it on with jewelry? Can she email you a photo of the dress and have you put together jewelry for her to accessorize it with before she comes in? I have a client where the mirror isn’t a mirror, it’s a big-screen TV. As the woman tries on outfits, she can take pictures of herself and review her outfits on the screen. 

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

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