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These stores successfully tested these ideas. Now it’s your turn to make them work for your store.

— By Eileen McClelland

INSPIRED PARTNERSHIPS EXPAND CUSTOMER BASE

Mignon Faget, New Orleans, LA

New Orleans jewelry designer and retailer Mignon Faget is known for infusing her work and her business with a strong sense of place and individuality. The New Orleans native is inspired by local themes, including French Quarter architecture, Roman Catholicism, Mardi Gras, sea life and Louisiana wildlife. In turn, the design of her stores is inspired by her jewelry, as well as by the city itself.

IDEA: GIFT SET DESIGNED FOR CHRISTMAS
Before Christmas 2014, Faget invited customers to a launch party at her New Orleans Canal Place store to promote a jewelry gift set designed for Christmas. The gift set represents a collaboration between Faget and New Orleans clothing designers Jolie Benson Hamilton and Sarah Elizabeth Dewey of Jolie & Elizabeth. The collaboration represents two New Orleans-based brands — both celebrated for designing with a distinctly Southern charm and finding inspiration in their home state of Louisiana.
The partners share a similar ethos, too. All Mignon Faget jewelry and Jolie & Elizabeth dresses are made in America.

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The champagne and cookie reception featured a Jolie & Elizabeth pop-up shop, and a chance for customers of both brands to meet the local clothing designers whose work is celebrated in the limited-edition gift set.

EXECUTION: TAKING PRIDE IN SOUTHERN ROOTS
The holiday set included a Mignon Faget-designed Wish Ring necklace adorned with three charms inspired by Jolie & Elizabeth’s designs: a button, a grosgrain bow and a seersucker heart, placed inside a seersucker jewelry sack. Jolie & Elizabeth is known for its iconic seersucker dress. They’ve sold 10,000 of them!
“We’re always on the hunt for designers who share our belief in quality Southern design and the virtues of handmade products,” Faget says. “Jolie & Elizabeth has become one of the great Southern brands, designing with the charm and whimsy necessary to be a true staple in our closets. We share a passion for promoting local artisans, giving back to our Louisiana community, and making women feel confident and proud of their Southern roots.”

REWARDS: SHOPPING MADE SIMPLE
It was fun. Fans of each brand were introduced to the other brand. The gift set itself made Christmas shopping simple, and the limited-edition aspect of the gift created exclusivity for collectors.


SEEING THE (ENERGY-EFFICIENT) LIGHT

Afram Jewelers, Washington, DC

Located steps from the White House, Afram Jewelers of Washington, DC, is a family-owned jewelry store that has been in business since 1971 selling, designing, appraising and servicing high-end jewelry and watches. The store takes pride in its attention to detail and has built a loyal following.

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IDEA: ADD ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTING
One detail about her store that Miriam Afram found to be not quite right was the lighting. She wanted to reduce the store’s energy cost by switching to energy-efficient lighting, but of course, could not afford to sacrifice light quality to do so. She began researching the options for LED lighting.

EXECUTION: REPLACE OLD HALOGENS
Afram decided to install Soraa’s full visible spectrum lamps with Violet-Emission 3-Phosphor (VP3) technology, which improved the appearance of both colored stones and diamonds. The store replaced older halogen MR16s with Soraa VIVID 2 MR16 LED lamps.

REWARDS: BRILLIANT IN AND OUT OF CASES
Delivering the equivalent of a 100-watt halogen lamp, Soraa’s LEDs require only 18 watts of power. The rings, earrings and watches shine brighter than ever and uniformity and warmth is much improved, Afram says. Beyond saving energy, Afram cited the unreliability and short lifespan of halogen and is happy she made the transition from outdated lighting. “The halogen lamps would burn out quickly forcing us to constantly replace our lighting — so we are grateful that is in the past. It used to bother us that when we removed a diamond ring from the showcase to show a customer, it looked dull under our overhead lights — now the jewelry looks brilliant in or out of the cases.”


GOOD DEED BRINGS GOOD KARMA TO WALLACH JEWELRY DESIGNS

Wallach Jewelry DesignS, Larchmont, NY

When a woman showed up two weeks before Christmas, with a 1971 class ring, Wallach Jewelry Designs owners Steven and Gina Wallach bought it for scrap.

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IDEA: BECOME JEWELRY DETECTIVES
The seller, a former Larchmont resident, had found the ring tucked under a corner of the carpet in her new apartment in Yonkers, NY. Once she ruled out the former occupants of the apartment as the ring’s owner, she decided to sell it to the Wallachs, whose store is in Larchmont. A day after the Wallachs bought the ring, they started speculating about who it might belong to. The 10K gold ring was from Herricks High School on Long Island, NY. “I was louping it,” Gina says, “ and I saw it had initials inside, DRG, and I thought, ‘You know what? There’s somebody out there with those initials that maybe we could find. They might like to have their ring back.”

EXECUTION: MAKING CHRISTMAS MAGIC
Gina took a picture of the ring, and turned to Facebook, joining the Herricks High School page so she could post a note for help in her search. She posted the request twice before Christmas 2014.

The first time, a graduate of the class responded and brought her a yearbook. It turned out that five women in that class had the matching first and last initials of D.G., but middle names or initials were not listed in the yearbook.

The second time Gina posted the photo on Facebook, a Larchmont woman noticed it and thought the owner might be a friend of hers, a friend who isn’t on Facebook at all.

That friend, with the maiden name of Diane R. Geberth, turned out to be the only graduate of the class of 1971 with the correct initials.
The Wallachs reunited the owner (now Diane Hall) with her ring, free of charge, much to her surprise and delight.
“It turns out she lives in Larchmont five minutes from our store,” Gina says. “It was truly a Christmas miracle. It was such a great feeling to find the person who had lost that ring.”

The ring was particularly significant to Diane Hall and her husband, Russell, because they had gone steady their senior year of high school, wearing one another’s class rings on chains around their necks, before they got married. After their wedding, they displayed the rings in a shadow box, but the rings mysteriously vanished during a move from Connecticut in 1985. Russell Hall’s ring is still missing. The Halls have no connection to Yonkers, where the ring was discovered.

REWARDS: REINFORCING A GOOD REPUTATION
Although the Wallachs haven’t noticed an uptick in business as a result of local publicity, they believe their efforts, at the height of the holiday season — have won them goodwill and reinforced their reputation as caring and honest business owners. “It was shown on Channel 2 CBS News right before Christmas, and it’s been on the radio and the Internet,” Gina says. “It’s gotten us a lot of kind comments; people see who we are and what we’re like. “It’s really good karma, and good karma will always come back to you.”


FRIENDSHIP IS A VALUABLE COMMODITY

My House of Style, Birmingham, MI

IDEA: A NO-PRESSURE EVENT
“I wanted to come up with an idea to showcase the store without the pressure of making a purchase, says owner Diane Harris. “I made a Facebook post one evening talking about how difficult it is to make new friends as you get older. It hit a chord with hundreds of people. Many filled my mailbox with their stories of lost friends. The honesty and openness was incredible. Then the idea hit me: I would host an evening at my store to “meet new friends.”

EXECUTION: CELEBRATING FRIENDSHIP
“Friendfest” was a night out of catered food, champagne, conversation and entertainment. “There was no shopping allowed. I had a magician, a spray-on tattoo station, and a person making balloon hats. Halfway though the evening a gospel choir walked in the door and started to sing. The store was decorated with paper pom poms, strands of sparkling sequins and glittering candles.”

REWARDS: SALES UP 30 PERCENT
“There was a sea of people everywhere you looked,” Harris says “For months after, my sales increased 30 percent.” Later, a woman who had accompanied a regular customer to the event returned to the store to purchase seven gifts. Harris called that an “aha moment.” “Everywhere I go someone yells out “My House of Style rocks.” Friendfest 2015, still in the planning stage, will likely have a Mexican fiesta theme, complete with a mariachi band.


A BRAND AMBASSADOR: BAUME & MERCIER

Ca D’Oro, Las Vegas, NV

IDEA: ADD A BRAND BEACON
Ca d’Oro in the Palazzo Resort Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, added a Baume & Mercier shop-in-shop in 2014, which was the first of its kind. The addition is designed to feel as if customers are seated at home, in their own living rooms, while also serving as a brand beacon to passersby.

EXECUTION: FOCUS ON ELEGANCE
Nehama Ram, store director, says most of Ca d’Oro’s customers are international tourists and watch collectors from China, Europe and South America, although they have their share of U.S. clients as well. “Baume & Mercier is an affordable luxury watch that is a perfect addition,” Ram says. “Building the new shop-in-shop created a well-lit area in the store that makes it easy for the customer to identify the brand and clearly find his desired watch, in a luxury boutique environment.”

REWARDS: PASSERSBY NOTICE IT
“Almost every customer walking into the store says how beautiful, attractive and luxurious the shop-in-shop looks,” Ram says. “They also mention they came in because of the SIS and the way it appeared from the outside.”


FOX FINE JEWELRY OFFERS JEWELRY AS A SYMBOL OF RECONCILIATION

Fox Fine Jewelers, Ventura, CA

Debbie Fox, owner of Fox Fine Jewelry in Ventura, CA, realizes the power and symbolism of the gift of jewelry.

In 2009, Fox Fine Jewelry offered a free “Hearts of Hope” sterling silver pendant to the unemployed on Valentine’s Day, an initiative that garnered tremendous goodwill in the community and, over time, around the country. Years later, recipients return to the store, wearing their necklaces and sharing their stories of how they pulled themselves out of the recession. They still remember the retailer’s kindness that gave them hope during a bleak time, and in many cases have become loyal customers.

IDEA: HELP CUSTOMERS MEND FENCES
For Christmas 2014, Fox took action to help her clients mend fences by offering a $125 aquamarine and sterling silver necklace and earring set for just $25. The special price was available only if the set were given as part of a reconciliation. “Just about everyone has someone they’ve fought with and aren’t speaking to,” Fox says. “At this holiday time we hope to help people bridge that gap.”

Aquamarine was chosen because it’s thought to have calming properties that inspire truth, trust and letting go. “The holiday season is a time to resolve differences, forgive, and begin again,” Fox says. “It’s hard to do but we want to encourage people to take the first step.”

EXECUTION: TAKING THE OFFER TO HEART
The gift recipient could be a partner, friend, family member or co-worker. Customers were asked if they would share their story and the outcome of their efforts, although they weren’t required to. Although the promotion was announced on the store’s website, shoppers had to come into the store to make the purchase. No proof was required. The price was available on the honor system.

About half of Fox’s shoppers asked for the discount, but most didn’t have a good reason. Some cheerfully offered to get into a fight with someone just to get the discount. It was pretty easy to determine who was a serious candidate.

“We’d respond by saying that the intention was to mend relationships,” Fox says. “For example, to give to people you haven’t spoken to in years. The people who really were intending to mend their relationships got either very quiet or tearful. The others caved and admitted that this wasn’t the case, or said that they understood.”

When customers began to offer up their stories, Fox was touched.
“There were stories like the woman who hadn’t spoken to her best friend of 35 years for two years,” Fox says. “She cried telling us about it.”

REWARDS: GENERATING GOODWILL
They sold about 60 sets to people who expressed their gratitude, not just for the price but because the program was the impetus for them to reach out. Most had been thinking about doing so for a long time.
“People who are our customers and know us from the ‘Hearts of Hope’ commented on how we are ‘always doing such nice things for our community.’” Fox says. “Programs like this are about embodying the spirit of the holidays, helping because we are in a position to do so, and generating goodwill for our store.”


JUMP START AN ARTIST

BVW Jewelers , Reno, NV

IDEA: GIVE A LOCAL ARTIST A HELPING HAND
Last year, BVW Jewelers implemented a “Jump Start an Artist” program, dedicated to help one up-and-coming jewelry designer realize her dream each year.

EXECUTION: A YEAR OF CASE SPACE
For the first year, Carla Rice Designs, a collection of “mothers’ jewelry,” was chosen to debut for Mother’s Day 2014. Tiring of the “cute charms and sweet cameos,” Rice created the line to “honor the true experience of motherhood,” depicting strength, patience, resiliency and love. From rendering to completion, store owner Britten Wolf facilitates the manufacturing of the piece or pieces, including packaging, advertising and development that leads to a viable and profitable line. Once produced, BVW Jewelers offers case space for one year.

REWARDS: BENEFITS FOR ALL
“We choose recipients for their design capabilities and their initiative and dedication to their enterprise,” Wolf says. “Jump Start allows an artist who has unique ideas and has not had their
designs created, an opportunity to construct their pieces while learning what each process of the production entails.” This year they’ve worked with Jeanette Maxwell-Santiago.

Their partnership led the store to offer her a job and she’s now learning CAD. Wolf wants to nurture and encourage jewelry designers, particularly because they are hard to find in the Reno area.


FROM GUMBALLS TO GOLD

Forest Beach Designer-Goldsmith, Chatham, MA

IDEA: BUY A GUMBALL MACHINE
“One of our stunts was to buy a genuine gumball machine and fill its plastic vials with gold and silver charms, pearl earrings, freshwater pearl strands, gift certificates and a few minor gemstones,” says owner Steve Wardle. The machine itself cost a few hundred dollars.

EXECUTION: TURN IT INTO A TREASURE HUNT
“We put the machine out for special occasions and everyone has a great time. Four quarters a turn buys a visitor real treasure. We refill the machine during the soiree and the public drains it again.”

REWARDS: A CUSTOMER FAVORITE
“The dollars go to cancer research, we clean out the bottom drawer, and everyone is happy,” Wardle says. “Many visitors ask when it will appear again!”


A Family’s Partnership with Perrywinkle’s Leads to Cancer Canknot Jewelry Line

Perrywinkle’s Fine Jewelry, Burlington, VT

Perrywinkle’s Fine Jewelry has five locations in Vermont, New York and Montreal, Canada. The stores emphasize warm and professional associates who are known for creating friendships rather than making sales. Perrywinkle’s offers custom design in addition to selling branded jewelry.

IDEA: FINDING HOPE AFTER CANCER DIAGNOSIS
When Eric Gilcris was diagnosed with grade 4 glioblastoma brain cancer in 2011 at age 29, he and his wife, Anna, were at first inclined to wonder, “Why us?”

Over time, though, and with better-than-expected results from treatment, they began to approach the situation with a different question, “Why not us?” In the years since his diagnosis, they’ve moved on with their lives — welcomed a second child into their family, wrote a children’s book and designed jewelry.

Says Anna, “We knew there had to have been a reason to be given something like this to battle at such a young age. We knew that there had to be a greater plan as to why Eric was dealt this deck of cards and was chosen to battle such a monstrous disease.”

EXECUTION: DESIGNING A JEWELRY LINE
To explain cancer to their 3-year-old son, they wrote a rhyming children’s book called Bear Hugging and Cancer Crushing.

The couple also began to consider the power of jewelry for cancer patients, survivors and their families and friends, and came up with the concept of using the cancer ribbon symbol as the basis for a line of fine jewelry. They incorporated a knot into the ribbon design and called the line Cancer Canknot. Meaning, in their case, that cancer can not ruin their outlook on life; it can’t take away love, hope, happiness and memories.

Such a line of jewelry, they reasoned, could convey meaning and information while money raised could benefit organizations involved in cancer research.

“You see someone wearing it, and you know exactly what they are going through,” Anna says. Anna and Eric approached Perrywinkle’s Fine Jewelry in Burlington, VT, hoping to forge a partnership to make and sell the jewelry. Eric had shopped for Anna at Perriwinkle’s in the past and was impressed with the craftsmanship and service there.

Owner Perry Sporn was in turn impressed with their proposal.
“There are always people pitching things to us,” Sporn says. “The difference here is the amazing story and amazing people behind it. It was an opportunity to have a partnership with great people.”

REWARDS: UNIVERSAL APPEAL LEADS TO SALES
A launch party in November sold out the initial inventory. Back in stock, it’s available in 14K gold and sterling silver at Perrywinkle’s and at cancercanknot.com. “The response has been fantastic,” Sporn says. “Everyone has been touched by cancer one way or another.”

Adds Anna, “Three years ago, when Eric was diagnosed with brain cancer, we never would have thought this would be our lives. We’ve gotten handwritten notes from people, thanking us for what we’re doing. Our hope is that it does make a difference.”


IT’S A PLANE!

Gruno’s Diamonds, Rockford, IL

Gruno’s Diamonds, with full-service locations in Rockford, IL, and Madison, WI, has developed a following among watch aficionados and a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with its watch vendors, as a result. So it was a natural location for a traffic-stopping promotion by Hamilton Watch Co.

IDEA: A HIGHLY VISIBLE WATCH VENDOR
In 2014, owners Brent Meade and Channing Meade partnered with one of their top watch vendors, Hamilton Watch, to place a full-size replica airplane (sans engine) on the roof of their building. “Rockford has a local airshow every summer, and we decided to put our heads together with Hamilton to do something amazing,” Brent Meade says. Many Hamilton watches are designed in aviator style, and the company supports aviation racing.

EXECUTION: HEAVY LIFTING
It took a massive crane to get it onto the building, where it stayed for a couple of months.

“We had to hire iron workers to lift that onto the building,” Meade relates. “They built platforms that were on the roof and they set the plane on top of those so it looked like the plane was flying off the roof. Traffic stopped on the road because they couldn’t believe we had a plane on the roof. It was very real looking. It was the first time that model plane had been mounted on an exterior of a building in the United States, although it had hung in malls and airports and had been on top of a building in Europe.

“We carry many of Swatch’s brands — Hamilton, Longines and Tissot — and have a very good working relationship with Hamilton. That was the year we had our grand reopening of the store and the air show was just a wonderful tie-in. We’ve also got a model of that airplane in the store that’s about 4 feet long. We had that one suspended from the ceiling.”

RESULTS: TALK OF THE TOWN
“It’s not every day you drive down the road, at least in Rockford, IL, and see a massive airplane on the roof of a jewelry store! We had a lot of people asking, ‘What’s with the plane on the building?” Meade says. “It did draw a lot of attention.” Our overall watch sales increased over 20 percent during the promotion. “It was noticed for a lot of reasons, but being bright orange didn’t hurt either. It was probably even more noticed when it came down. Many, many customers called and asked, ‘What happened to the airplane?’ I told everybody I just flew it off the roof.”


BORSHEIMS HELPS OMAHA GET RED CARPET READY

Borsheims, Omaha, NE

When you think big fashion show, Omaha may not spring to mind immediately. But Omaha Fashion Week is the Midwest’s premier fashion event as well as one of the largest in the U.S. Both talent incubator and glamorous professional showcase, the event connects industry professionals with a large and engaged audience. In August 2014, Borsheims was the red carpet sponsor for Omaha Fashion Week, underwriting the red carpet event that kicks off the week’s festivities, says Adrienne Fay, director of marketing and advertising.

IDEA: HOW JEWELRY COMPLETES AN OUTFIT
For the past three years, Borsheims has also thrown open its doors to host an event called Red Carpet Ready, in cooperation with the organizers of Omaha Fashion Week. Guests enjoy cocktails and appetizers while learning how to pose on the red carpet, and how to get “Red Carpet Ready hair and makeup.”

“Borsheims is known as a fine jewelry outlet,” Fay says. “This gives us an opportunity to show how jewelry completes an outfit and makes an outfit. Women get dressed up and get out and enjoy themselves. We don’t have a lot of those kind of events in Omaha.”

EXECUTION: EVERYONE’S WELCOME
Borsheims works with Fashion Week organizers to reach their subscribers and followers; since the event takes place during store hours, social media fans and drop-in shoppers also are welcome to attend.

“People love it, it’s a very fun, invested atmosphere,” Fay says. “They love getting their hair done. We have a jewelry try-on station, we have fun and funky jewelry, and we offer modeling tips on how to pose. It takes down the intimidation factor you can have with fine jewelry.”

Last year, more than 150 people arrived dressed in their red-carpet best. They were invited to model jewelry and pose for photos on a red carpet, which were posted on social media. Kontempo salon offered hair and makeup tutorials, and Stephanie Kantis Jewelry held a trunk show. Fay says the Stephanie Kantis line was well matched to the event because the jewelry is bold and offers a great look at a great price.

The first 50 people to complete a mobile matching game pairing Borsheims jewelry with models wearing designer outfits won Borsheims gift bags.

REWARDS: DELIVERING A WOW EXPERIENCE
The event has grown in attendance each year as Borsheims has added more activities — beer tastings, trunk shows — to make it more engaging, Fay says. “If we have a great sales night, that is great — but the goal is to get customers into the store to have a positive experience and to get them to come in when they are thinking of making a jewelry purchase in the future,” she says.


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