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Perry’s Emporium Fine Jewelers

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Wilmington, NC

 

[dropcap cap=A]s snow came tumbling down on Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains on Christmas Day, Alan Perry couldn’t stop smiling. His store, Perry’s Emporium Fine Jewelers in Wilmington, NC, had just done $387,000 in sales during two weeks of a “Let it Snow” event, and he’d promised to return every dollar if 3 inches of snow fell on the upstate city. [/dropcap]

 

 

Perry’s equanimity about the prospect of a huge payout was understandable; he was fully insured (at a cost of 3 percent of the sales). Snow or no snow, he was a winner. Still, the final result staggered even him: Nearly half a million dollars in sales (from the initial $387,000 plus $100,000 that came back in new sales following the payout).

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Perry wasn’t always so successful, or so in control. For much of the time after going into business for himself in the early ’90s, he scrambled to meet his overheads. Then in 2001, when a bookkeeper failed to pay his payroll taxes, his business almost collapsed.

“We basically had to start over. I really learned from the school of hard knocks.”

Perry’s fortunes began to change just as things were starting to get worse for much of the rest of America. The economic dip in the fourth quarter of 2007 prompted him to start aggressively buying antique and estate jewelry off the street. As gold took off on its bull run, Perry used the profits to build up his diamond and bridal business. He also brought in experts ( including Freshley Media which helped design the snow campaign), to finally turn himself into a businessman as opposed to a jeweler.

“Probably the best thing I did was join our FIT Group. There are 10 other great jewelry stores in our group, from all over the country. If you just pick up the best ideas and really put them to work in your store you would be amazed at how fast you can improve.”

The results were impressive. From sales of less than $2 million in 2007, Perry added 14 percent in 2008, 28 percent in 2009 and 40 percent in 2010, taking his gross (excluding the gold sales) to $4 million — all through the worst recession in 70 years. He also did it without help from the bead trend. His average sale is $700-$800 a piece.

“We’ve gone from a local jeweler on the brink of death, to a serious regional player. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s also been fun.” — CHRIS BURSLEM

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[span class=note]This story is from the April 2011 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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