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Editor's Note

Our Big Survey Seeks To Answer Why Some Jewelers Thrive While Others Die

Why are some jewelers thriving while others are going out of business? In this issue, we seek answers.

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“WHAT’S THE SECRET? Why are some jewelers thriving while others are going out of business?”

We receive letters with some variation of this question at INSTORE every month. In this issue, we seek answers through our 12th annual Big Survey. This time, we sort more than 700 responses from jewelry store owners around the country into three categories: average stores, struggling stores, and thriving stores (without naming names, of course). Then we seek the common thread tying each given cohort together.

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Spoiler alert: the most successful stores are the ones that have embraced the millennial client. That means a concerted focus on digital marketing including social media and SEO. It also means more opportunities for customization and an emphasis on unique jewelry with meaning. Some stores have been willing to change with the times for a new clientele; others haven’t.

We also saw that thriving stores spent more of their own time on business strategy and marketing and less on bench work and sales than their struggling peers. So many owners get caught up in the day-to-day that they don’t take the time to make a plan for growth (and advertise to get there).

At the end of the day, the “secret” isn’t really much of a secret at all: those who seek to be the best merchants they can be — willing to sell whatever the client may want to whomever the client may be — are the ones who prosper. But there are many ways to get you there, and you’ll find quite a few in the pages of our Big Survey.

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Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Print business-sized cards to throw into the customer’s bag saying to like your store on Facebook and give a review. (The Big Story, p. 63)
  • Text your clients every six months with the message, “Reminder! It’s time to get your jewelry checked and cleaned.” (The Big Story, p. 63)
  • Send each client their birthstone on their birthday along with a gift card toward custom design or mounting. (The Big Story, p. 63)
  • Bag each purchase into a custom canvas-printed bag that your clients can reuse. (The Big Story, p. 63)
  • Put morning duties on flash cards and have staff pick which card they want as they arrive (last person has to take two). (The Big Story, p. 63)

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at trace@smartworkmedia.com.

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Editor's Note

This Year’s INSTORE Design Awards Winners Followed In a Stellar Tradition

With 25 categories, many designers had the chance to shine.

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EVERY YEAR, I’M consistently impressed by the ingenuity displayed by the jewelry designers who enter the INSTORE Design Awards. Two years ago, Hisano Shepherd of Little H made a splash with her fresh take on pearls, slicing them open and encrusting them with gemstones. Last year, Katey Brunini won three categories with three separate pieces from her intricate and colorful Eating Watermelon In The Black Forest collection, while TAP By Todd Pownell took two other categories with their striking, nature-inspired use of diamonds.

This year, with so many more categories (25, as opposed to eight last year), lots of designers made their mark. Adel Chefridi won two categories and a Retailer’s Choice award with his geometric matte designs. Thorsten placed with three different show-stopping wedding band designs. Manufacturers Gabriel & Co. and UNEEK Fine Jewelry each had multiple winners. The mesmerizing Sultana ring by Annamaria Cammilli Firenze cleaned up across several categories. Then there was our Grand Prize winning piece: the VIVAAN cuff (featured on our cover) with nearly 30 carats of natural fancy color diamonds that won over both our judges and online voters.

When you’re shopping the Las Vegas trade shows, start with the winners of this design competition. If they’re turning heads among our judges and online voters, they’re sure to turn the heads of your clients as well.

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • When displaying men’s jewelry, opt for timeless elements like antique fly-fishing reels, old toy cars or old sports items. (Ask Instore, p. 91)
  • Longer ad copy yields better results, as proven by Google. (Jim Ackerman, p. 90)
  • Always display in odd numbers; it’s more aesthetically pleasing. (Three Things I Know About, p. 94)
  • Ask questions that elicit a “yes” from the woman in order to close the male buyer. (Shane Decker, p. 92)
  • When retirement is in the near future, start maximizing net profit to build the value of your business. (David Brown, p. 94)
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Editor's Note

Why Excuses Are The Enemy of Learning

To get better in business and life, you must first embrace failure.

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“If you continue to be defensive every time I give you constructive criticism, you’ll never learn anything.”

I was in my mid-20s when a mentor and former employer said those words to me, and I’ve never forgotten the lesson. When you make excuses, you lose the opportunity to learn from failure and improve yourself.

It’s more difficult than it sounds. Human nature is to look outside oneself for a source of blame. No one wants to be thought of as “a failure.”

And yet, if you’re willing to bow to the requirements of wisdom, your confidence can only rise as your quest for improvement moves forward.

Our magazine is all about education, and we figured there’s no better teacher than failure — thus, you hold in your hands, “The Failure Issue.” Inside, you’ll find stories from successful businesspeople who aren’t afraid to admit how they failed, and how that failure was transformative.

For example, check out columnist David Geller’s story of how he went from near-bankruptcy to profitable through a cash-flow crucible. And read about David Nygaard’s odyssey from multi-store owner to personal jeweler and city councilman through bankruptcy and divorce.

It all starts with a willingness to learn — and if you didn’t have that, you wouldn’t be reading INSTORE. So read on, and prepare to get the most from failure!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Have employees wear white cotton gloves when moving product around to keep skin oil off jewelry. (Manager’s To-Do List, p. 30)
  • Hold “failure reviews” when anything goes wrong in your business. (The Big Story, p. 40)
  • Keep a Failure Wall in a back room where you and your staff can share “growth lessons.” (The Big Story, p. 40)
  • In job postings, describe your company, your reputation and your goals. (Ask INSTORE, p. 62)
  • Reward your clients through a Brand Ambassador program that compensates them for sharing their enthusiasm for brands. (Cool Stores, p. 78
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Editor's Note

These Are The Three Factors Driving Revolution in the Jewelry Industry

All three are technology-based.

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WHEN A BUSINESS REVOLUTION arrives, there’s no stopping it. Your only options are to ignore it and die a slow death, or join it and learn, quickly, how to do business within the new paradigm.

Three powerful pistons are driving revolution in the jewelry industry. The first is e-commerce. Some retailers have complained of manufacturers going direct to consumers, but many are now learning to compete in the online space as well. We just started judging this year’s crop of America’s Coolest Store contestants, and we are impressed not only by how many of the applicants sell online, but also by the quality of their websites. Read about retailers doing e-commerce right in our story, “E-Commerce For Everyone,” beginning on page 74.

The second piston is the lab-grown diamond phenomenon. The category continues to gain traction among consumers, and largely driven by consumer demand, not marketing. Read about Soha Diamond Co., a retailer who sells only lab-grown diamonds and gemstones, in our “Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution” story starting on page 63.

The third piston is social media, which offers retailers the opportunity to engage local consumers for very little monetary investment. Social media is where the people are; it’s just a question of how to reach them, and then how to interest them in your jewelry and your store.

A revolution is on your doorstep, whether you like it or not. Will you join it or be left behind?

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • During slow times, take photos of all waxes not already in your CAD library and add them. (Manager’s To-Do List, p. 46)
  • Use an aggressive commission to incentivize salespeople to sell old items. (Ask INSTORE, p. 108)
  • Present customers’ kids with gift-wrapped presents to make them feel special. (Tip Sheet, p. 98)
  • Match the percentage of marketing dollars spent on a department with its store performance. (David Brown, p. 112)
  • Make a list of all verbal buying cues and have staff practice their question closes for each. (Sales Truths, p. 112)
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