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Leslie McGwire: Warm Welcomes



store design for jewelers from Leslie McGwire

Open doorways, lights, music … you have
only 7 seconds to make your invitation

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of INSTORE.

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is especially important when it comes to jewelry store entries. Studies have indicated that a retailer has roughly seven seconds to capture the attention of passing potential customers. Developing powerful images right from the outset sends a strong message to people passing by or walking in. It also helps you to stand out from the competition and be remembered by customers.


The entrance to the store is the division between the outside and inside environments. As such, mall jewelry stores have an easier chance of luring customers into the store with a wide, open entrance, creating a seamless entry from the mall to the store. Jewelry retailers who depend largely on impulse traffic should try to create an open storefront, either by removing storefront barriers completely or by creating an unobstructed view into the store with glass frontage.

Crocker’s Fine Jewelry entry, designed by Leslie McGwire & Associates, creates a dramatic first impression.

Street jewelers and some mall tenants who require portals due to climate control or a need for intimacy or security have less opportunity to give customers a tantalizing taste of the interior. For these retailers, an unobstructed and welcoming doorway combined with fantastic window displays can provide the lure. In all types of jewelry-store entrances, customers need to get the impression that they (and their children) will be comfortable and welcome. Obstacle courses, visual clutter and “Do Not” signs on the doors are turn-offs that often result in a negative first impression and a lost customer.

A visual hook is a call to action that diverts a customer’s attention to your store with a “Stop! There’s something here for you!” Powerful visual hooks are created by marrying other visual merchandising components for a more memorable first impression. A wonderful entrance presentation, an effectively signed promotional offering, a powerful interior display, in-store animation and lighting all serve as magnets to draw the customer in.

Lighting design can make a huge difference, but too often, jewelry retailers neglect it. A popular design element is to have a chandelier in the entry to set the stage for the style of the store’s interior. Another option is to use LED recessed cans. This will create a flood of light, keeping the entry bright without creating a focal point the minute you set foot in the store. It all depends on where you want the customer’s eyes to go, as well as how the entry lighting fits with the overall store design.

Many of today’s jewelry retailers are extending their store hooks into other senses beyond sight for a total image package. For example, the entry of the store could have beautiful music playing to enhance the customer’s mood.


As a rule, powerful images are the foundation of all jewelry retailing efforts. Within the first few seconds of catching their interest, the customer’s focus moves beyond the store’s exterior for a visual scan of the interior while they mull over whether to enter or not. Getting a customer through the door is indeed a victory. That’s why today’s jewelry stores must deliver wonderful first impressions in order for customers to feel comfortable and confident about buying from you.

Leslie McGwire, Allied ASID, has over 30 years in interior design and business development with retail stores. Learn more at or call (248) 912-2661.



Wilkerson Testimonials

Aging Inventory Sale? There’s a Science to Maximizing Results

Craig Husar, president of Lyle Husar Designs of Milwaukee, WI, has tried to organize sales of his aging inventory before he let Wilkerson do one for him. “If it had been up to me, I probably would have used the same methods I’ve always used and I would have gotten the same results I’ve always been disappointed with,” he says. After Wilkerson, there’s no going back. “Everything Wilkerson brought to the table just elevated this event higher than anything I’ve ever experienced before.”

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David Brown

Here’s How to Make Your Biggest Sale Ever … Again

To reproduce your highest-priced sale, you have to show the right product.




CHANCES ARE YOU easily recall the single highest-priced item that you’ve ever sold in your store — the adrenalin rush of seeing it appear on your terminal or as a line item in your reporting or maybe a deposit on the bank statement. The excitement of moments like this makes retail worthwhile.

Assess how it happened. What were the circumstances of that particular sale? Did you consciously create the opportunity, or did it fall in your lap?

A better question is, have you consciously tried to reproduce it?

Perhaps you thought you got lucky and it was a one-off sale. Yet, the reality is that if you did it once, you can do it again.

Let’s assume the item was a diamond ring, as that’s the most likely scenario. Do you have anything in your inventory at that price range? Perhaps it was a custom piece made for someone; nevertheless, chances are you do not have a similar piece displayed in your store.

The challenge is that your current inventory influences your customer’s perception. If your diamond rings range between $10,000- $20,000 retail, your customer will see you as a store that offers fine jewelry up to $20,000. A customer who is willing to spend $50,000 may not see you as the place to shop, causing you to lose these potential luxury sales.

We are not suggesting that you rush out to buy a lot of $50,000 rings. Instead, work out an arrangement with one of your top performing vendors that will allow you to showcase these higher-priced items. Remember, if you hope to sell a $50,000 ring, you may need to show a $70,000 one to get the market interested. Customers will seldom spend more than you show them.

The best way to reproduce your highest-priced sale is to make sure your inventory includes those price points and to prominently display them in your store.

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David Geller

Here’s How To Calculate How Much Your Jewelry Salespeople Should Earn

But that also requires that you let them make sales.




A JEWELER EMAILED ME this question: “I have always heard that a jewelry sales associate should sell 10 times what they make as a gross wage. Do you think it is still true today? What about associates with other responsibilities who aren’t always on the sales floor?”

Here’s your answer: 10 times sales as salary (or being paid 10 percent of what you sell) is “sort of correct.”

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The number is actually between 8 to 13 times their pay. If they sell 8 times (or cost you 8 percent of their sales), they are very efficient. If their cost is closer to 13 percent, they are inefficient.

So if a salesperson is paid $35,000 a year, they should sell between $270,000 to $437,000.

But here’s the question: How much do you personally sell out of total sales of the store? That includes product sales, appraisals, repair and custom.

If the store does $700,000 in sales and you only wait on diamond customers and your sales are $500,000, then that leaves a remaining $200,000 available for sales staff to sell. So the salesperson is physically unable to sell even the minimum of $270,000, much less the higher end.

Take your sales away from the total and see what’s left for staff to sell.

Don’t tell me what they could do to bring in more sales. That’s an excuse. Why? Because you have to be the sales trainer.

You’d have to train them to:

  • Increase their average dollar sale.
  • Try to add on to what is sold to each customer. Goal would be add on to 25 percent of their sales.
  • Keep a client book of some type, keeping track of birthdays and anniversaries and contacting customers to remind them to buy something for these events. This starts with sending thank-you cards after every single sale.

If you’re too busy to be a sales manager, then don’t complain that they don’t sell enough.

What about employees who have other duties? That makes it impossible to sell 10 times their pay if they are only on the floor 15 hours a week out of 40. They would be considered “fill in.” Just pay a salary or wage and be done with it.

But if you wanted to pay them some type of bonus or commission plan, you’d figure out what percent of the week they are on the floor. So in this example, if the employee is on the floor 15 hours out of 40, then 38 percent of his workweek is selling. If he makes $35,000 a year, 38 percent of it is equal to $13,000 of his pay to be on the floor selling. Divide $13,000 by 0.08 and 0.13, and his sales should be $100,000 to $162,000.

There are many ways to compensate for excellence in selling. When I was a store owner, I paid straight percent of sales. You can pay a percentage of the gross profit, which ensures that the more they discount, the lower the percent of profit you pay. There are spiffs: sell these things over here and I’ll give you a set amount of money. There is share: if we all reach a goal amount this month, I will give everyone an amount of money. Or you can give things: sell so much or a particular item, and I’ll give you tickets to a show/fancy dinner out/day off/spa day.

All salespeople come to work with their car radio set to WIIFM: “What’s In It For Me.”

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Shane Decker

How to Close a Male Buyer When You Know the Female Wants the Product

He needs to hear her say “yes.”




HOW DO YOU CLOSE a bridal or anniversary ring sale when you know that the woman is making the decision on the product, but the man is the one making the purchase? You have to make two presentations at the same time — one that delivers peace of mind and freedom from risk (for him), and one that delivers on style and sentiment (for her).

Let’s say you’ve gone through your presentation and sold cut, clarity, color and carat weight, and explained the lab report, and the man is satisfied with the diamond. The presentation is just getting started. The woman wants to look at different shapes, try it on, take pictures with it and wear it.

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After you’ve built the relationship, ask selling-specific questions to both the man and the woman to find out exactly what they want. Eventually, you’ll know from conversation that the price is right, the diamond is correct and she loves the mounting. Now you’re in the 30-second window when it’s time to close the sale and the woman’s made up her mind. Sometimes you have to ask the wearer of the ring the proper questions so that the purchaser of the ring can hear answers to give him self-confidence to buy. You use the woman to help close the man.

Make sure she is wearing the ring when you ask these questions, and that she‘s looking at the ring during the conversation. He is going to hear a series of questions from you to which she will answer, “Yes.”

Do you love this ring? Yes.

Would you want to wear this ring all day, every day forever? Yes.

Would you like to leave with this ring today? Yes.

Does it feel right? (If not we can size it.) Yes.

Is this the diamond of your dreams? Yes.

He has heard five yeses. Now you can look at him and say, “She’s found the ring and diamond of her dreams.” This keeps him from saying, “We need to leave and discuss this.” She’s made up her mind; this is the one she wants. Based on the answers she’s given, she wants to leave with it. My close here would be, “While we’re wrapping this up, how would you like to take care of this?” You should use a close that’s correct for your selling profile.

Quit closing the wrong person. Sometimes you have to close the wearer first to close the buyer.

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