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Sally Furrer: A Month-by-Month Guide to Merchandising




Sally Furrer on preparing perfectly to buy at The SMART Show.


  • Create or review your strategic plan and your merchandising plan to clarify your objectives. Or, brainstorm with your staff on unclosed sales and missed opportunities from Q4. Compare your Q4 results with your objectives — are you on track to where you want to be?
  • Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish at the show. Think about what type of product will fulfill your objectives.
  • What buying strategies will get you to your 2012 goals? A few examples:

    • Attract female self-purchasers with bold, fun fashion rings.
    • Expand your bridal clientele with new bridal product.
    • Increase margin with in- house branded collections.


  • Calculate your open-to-buy, making sure that you allocate dollars to replenishment. (Don’t forget to factor in your on order, accounts payable commitments, GL inventory adjustments and pending return to vendor.)
  • Start running the appropriate reports that you will need for your buying decisions — by vendor, by classification and by price points — to get a general idea of what you need to procure.
  • Determine what are your top-selling products, and what are your best-performing vendors.
  • Equally important, review your aged inventory visually. You want to learn from these buying mistakes.
  • Start setting up your vendor appointments — don’t count on “swinging by.”


  • Now it is time to get specific! If you have determined a need for bridal semi-mounts — drill down in your reports — what metal, shape melee, head shape/size, price point range?
  • Lower your risk by leveraging your top-selling product – is it available in another diamond total weight, with a different center stone, in a different metal?
  • Print out Vendor Appointment Forms for your existing vendors that you will be seeing at the show. (Download forms from
  • Run reports so you can fill in the Vendor Appointment Form completely.
  • Print out several sets of the New Vendor Forms, and any of the Agreement Forms that you think you may need — remember to negotiate upfront.
  • Recalculate your open-to-buy, based on sales and whether your dollars may have gone up or down.
  • Be organized and professional in front of your vendors — prepare all your reports and forms.
  • Re-confirm your appointments, and get cell phone numbers so you can contact them if you need to.

At the show

  • It is pretty easy to get behind schedule at times, but do call your vendors for a heads-up or to reschedule.
  • Ideally, get pictures and pricing, to review back at your office or store.
  • Gather information on potential new vendors, even if you don’t have the open-to-buy dollars this season — start a file for the next show you will be attending.


  • Once you have all your pictures and pricing, fill out a New Purchasing Analysis Form (from for each designer, collection or group of like product.
  • Review the forms with your manager/staff and decide what kind of a fit you have with the vendor and which product will help you accomplish your goals.
  • Send in your purchase orders with specific shipping dates.
  • Develop a product launch plan, or schedule training sessions to ensure the successful sell-through of the wonderful product you have just purchased!

Sally Live!

Meet Sally at The SMART Jewelry Show, at Chicago’s Navy Pier from April 21-23, 2012. To register, go to

This story originally appeared in the January 2012 SMART Show supplement to INSTORE




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Hosting a going-out-of-business sale when the coronavirus pandemic hit wasn’t a part of Bob Smith’s game plan for his retirement. Smith, the owner of E.M. Smith Jewelers in Chillicothe, Ohio, says the governor closed the state mid-way through. But Smith chose Wilkerson, and Wilkerson handled it like a champ, says Smith. And when it was time for the state to reopen, the sale continued like nothing had ever happened. “I’d recommend Wilkerson,” he says. “They do business the way we do business.”

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