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To start getting women excited about your store, the first step is to throw a party. Or three. Eileen Alexanian shares her secrets.

TRUE OR FALSE: Women love to shop.  
True or False: Women love to shop with other women.  
True of False: Women love to tell other women about their shopping experiences. 
 
The answer to all of the questions above? True! And you can benefit from all three of these answers. Women love to connect with their friends through shopping and camaraderie. And that is an important element that retailers can take advantage of by building a community of women around their store with special events.  
 
If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity, chances are the retailer next door will. I happen to be right next to a nice ladies’ boutique, and she hosts a lot of events that women flock to and talk about for days on end. In the beginning, I was jealous about all the fun they were having ? and wondered whether there was a difference with how women connect with clothing than with jewelry. But, once I started hosting my own parties, I realized that I could build the same excitement around my store as well. These parties also help women get into the idea of jewelry regardless of their marital or romantic status, and makes them want to buy a piece of jewelry for themselves. I consider my real competitors to be other luxury industries that take away my customers’ disposable income, so I want to grow my relationship with women in my store because it will help to grow my business.  
 
I’ve had success with the special events I do, about three or four times a year, specifically because women tell their friends about it. Even their husbands are sometimes jealous because they couldn’t come!  
 
Here are a couple of my favorite events so far that have really gotten my women customers excited about coming in, and what I’m planning:  
 
EVENT #1: DIVA DAY  
This is a cool concept we’ve done several times. We invite loyal women customers from our mailing list to come into the store on a Sunday afternoon, and on the invitation we say we’re going to wine and dine them, serenade them with a pianist, and then later encourage each woman to browse our store and fill out a wish list. They are allowed to try on as many pieces of jewelry as they want, but we take the mental pressure off them by telling them that they can’t buy anything that day. It’s just pure fun. We gave away little gifts, like jewelry cleaning kits and little enamel boxes, as well as a bottle of champagne with the store’s name on it. Women love details like that. 
 
We got so much information about birthdays, anniversaries, wrist sizes, and big dream pieces they would want. We asked for contact names and got permission to drop a note in the mail to their spouses and family members. Which we did. And it paid off, big time: The day after our first Diva Day, I sold an $8,000 diamond bracelet to the husband of one of the attendees, who was so jealous that his wife came alone that he joked he had thought of coming in drag.  
 
I’d say the whole event cost around $1,000, between the food, the gifts, the pianist and the mailing. But it really made women want to come in and many of them said, ?Will you have that event again? That was really fun!? Next time around, I’m planning to hire a photographer to take glamour photos of the guests that they can take home ? and show their husbands how amazing they look with our jewelry around their necks and wrists! 
 
 
EVENT #2: TIARA DAY 
This idea came to me when I was in the bank one Friday afternoon and everyone was in jeans. I thought, why not have dress-up Friday instead of dress-down? I give each of my salespeople a comb tiara to wear in their hair. What it does is customers walk into the store and say, ?What’s the special occasion?? And when they hear it’s dress-up day, they say, ?Oh, I’d love to work here!? and comment on what a cool place our store is to be. 
 
It might sound silly and frivolous. But let me tell you ? it creates conversation, and that’s what you’re really trying to do. You want to build such excitement around your business that everyone will want to find out more about it. This kind of thing costs almost nothing, but creates all sorts of opportunities for chatting up the women in your store.  
 
 
EVENT #3: INVITE-A-FRIEND  
 
I’m working on an event now where each woman guest ? only my best customers ? invites a friend to a catered evening off the premises at a local restaurant, where my salespeople and I will model pieces from our new designer lines. We’ll mingle with clients and have great food and cocktails, without any obligation to buy. I think it will really get people talking in the community and women will end up telling their friends about it. It will probably cost a couple of grand, at the most. But again, the most important thing is getting women to go out and say, ?You’ve got to stop by and check out Diamonds ?n’ Dunes. They’re so much fun!?  
 
These three events are just the beginning. The culture of my store is all about building relationships: I call women customers to ask whether they’re enjoying their ring, and whether it needs any repair. I allow women to take pieces home for the weekend just to make sure they’re comfortable with their decision (I call it the ?puppy dog? close). I exude confidence in the way I wear jewelry in the store, which I think inspires women to say, ?Oh, I don’t need to be afraid. I can be myself.?  
 
The point is, I want to create a sense of ease for the women in my store ? it’s the whole package, the whole ambience, from the events I put on to the way I communicate to the way I dress. I want women to feel comfortable with themselves and unafraid to make a purchase on their own. That’s good for them, and it’s good for my retail business. And it can be good for yours, too! 
 
 
BRAINSTORMS 
NEW IDEAS FOR YOUR STORE 
 
Want to make sure that customes always have to visit your store to see your latest stuff?  
 
Shorten your inventory cycles. 
 
Forever 21 has earned attention in the retail clothing market by changing its inventory every week to keep things fresh. What’s the shortest possible inventory cycle you could imagine for the jewelry industry? Three months? Could you do it? Why not give it a try?  
 
source: Instore 

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