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This story was originally published in the November 2015 edition of INSTORE.

SOMETIMES IT’S HARD to believe how much of your business success rests on the whims of Christmas shoppers who stop by once a year. But since this is often the case, try taking some of the whimsy out of your business by preparing for everyone who’s likely to show up. As James Gattas of James Gattas Jewelers in Memphis, TN, puts it, every type of customer “comes out of the woodwork” this time of year. Joan Charlene Little of Genesis Jewelry in Muscle Shoals, AL, reports that she has seen it all, including customers wearing pajamas, who appear to have come straight out of bed.

Luckily, quite a few holiday shoppers are low-drama, says Christina O’Hara of Blue Mountain Gems in Roanoke, VA. “I love the Weekend Wildman who comes in, throws money on the counter and wants to know ‘What can I get for this much?’ Then I love, love, love the Wishlist Warriors: ‘My wife/girlfriend said she has a wish list.’ Show them what’s available or upsell, wrap it and have them out the door in time to have a holiday beer before they head home.”

But there are also the Frazzled Frannies, comparison shoppers who want the return policy read word for word. “They will ask: Are you going to give me credit for the complimentary sizing since this is the right size? This is where those hours of role play will pay off!” says O’Hara.

After consulting with experts Shane Decker of Ex-Sell-Ence Sales Academy, Becka Johnson Kibby, sales and training manager for The Edge Retail Academy, and Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts, we’ve come up with detailed advice for the holiday customer types mentioned most often by our Brain Squad contributors.

But it all boils down to this: Be grateful for the traffic, (no matter how odd, under-dressed or melodramatic), treat everyone with respect, provide a “wow” experience, and make the kind of friendly first impression that will lead to a long and profitable relationship.


The Desperado

PROFILE: “I have one customer in particular who always stands out every Christmas Eve,” says Michael Kanoff of Michael’s Jewelers in Fairless Hills, PA. “He always says ‘You’ve got five minutes to pick a gift she is going to like and wrap it and get me out of here.’ I used to ask, ‘What do you want to spend?’ He always replies, ‘I don’t care; you’re now down to four minutes.’ This has been going on for 18 years. Now he stays and talks and we joke about the five minutes.” Some Desperados do have a clue in the form of a wish list, but it may be too late for that to save them. “We love the last-minute guy, always a guy, who comes in Dec. 22 or Dec. 23 and starts by saying ‘Last August, my wife saw …’ and then is upset that we don’t have the item,” says Rosanne Kroen of Rosanne’s Diamonds & Gold in South Bend, IN. “I think they don’t really want to spend the money and the excuse is always ‘The store didn’t have it.’ We usually can sell them something, but not always!”

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: If this shopper is frazzled and fried, it’s easy for the salesperson to get sucked into that frame of mind, to get as frantic as the customer, which serves nobody’s best interest, Peterson says. Or, it’s easy for a wish-list stickler to leave in defeat, when the specific item isn’t available. At that point, you might be tempted, as Christina O’Hara of Blue Mountain Gems in Roanoke, VA, often is, to say, “Are you nuts? You actually want to go back out in that traffic and drive somewhere else that might not be open?”

DO SAY: “Try one of these hot trends that has come in since she was here in August. If she opens it and doesn’t want it, she can come in and reorder the thing that’s on her wish list. It’s a lot more fun to get a piece of jewelry wrapped up and under the tree.”

DON’T SAY: “Will that be all?”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Keep calm and carry on. Offer reassurance and inspire confidence. “We let everyone know that we do have the perfect piece of jewelry for them,” says Whitney Lang of Burkes Fine Jewelers in Kilmarnock, VA. “No matter what.”

Always have three to four go-to items in different price ranges for different clients,” Kibby says. Remember to reorder fast sellers on a daily basis, especially in busy times. Explains Kent Bagnall of Kent Jewelry in Rolla, MO, “We encourage our staff to direct the “Desperados” quickly to top fast sellers so we have time for the thoughtful “big spenders.”

And as Decker points out, “What better opportunity could you have for add-on sales? Once you’ve closed the initial sale, all you have to do is ask, ‘How many others are on your list?’ When they answer, they’re giving you permission to show them items for each person. And we all know jewelry makes an awesome gift for any family member.”

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS: Shows up on Christmas Eve, or a day or two before.

ADAGE TO REMEMBER: Make him a hero.

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The Discount Demander

PROFILE: “Every so often someone will come in who says he knows how large our markups are and insist on a 50 percentplus- off discount,” says Donnie Blanton of Brittany’s Fine Jewelry in Gainesville, FL. “We don’t play the game of inflating our prices just to be able to discount, so it’s impossible to help this person, short of explaining our pricing policy and hoping they understand. Some just don’t get it and fan cash in front of us as we once again try to explain that we can’t discount our prices that deeply.” Greg Phelps of Bob’s Jewel Shop in Lumberton, NC, calls out the ’80s-Style Customers: “They want to buy what they used to buy at the prices they paid 30 years ago,” he explains.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO:“When you run to the owner, the client thinks you’re going to help him out,” Decker says. “He’s expecting you to come back with a lower price. If you don’t, you’ve let him down, and chances are, you’ve killed the sale because the client’s expectation wasn’t met. On the other hand, if you do come back with a lower price, you not only make the store less profit, but the next time he comes in, he’s going to expect you to come down on price again. So now to keep him, you have to slash the price every time.”

DO SAY: “We do things a little different here.” “We can negotiate a little bit. I can sell this at X amount, but I have to take away the return policy or the lifetime diamond warranty.” “I have a ring that looks similar to this that is one of our value pieces.”

DON’T SAY:“Let me ask my manager.” “Let me see what I can do.” “The policy is …”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Build a relationship, Kibby says. “Give him the red-carpet treatment. Start out by finding out what he is celebrating and what his timeline is; get to know him. There’s a good chance that he hasn’t had a great experience in a jewelry store before. He may be used to shopping at stores that always have a sale. Find out his hot buttons and know what it will take to make the biggest sale. A lot of times he will ask for a very minimal discount. Or offer a gift with purchase. Be sure to have specific pieces available that are value-based.”

Says Decker: Let your customer know there’s no wiggle room, but give him the options he needs — smaller diamond, different setting etc. “He’ll leave feeling great about the value of the jewelry he bought, you’ll have a new customer for life, and your bottom line will look a whole lot cushier.”

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS: Hones in one price.

ADAGE TO REMEMBER: This isn’t a car dealership.

The Scrooge

PROFILE: “You’ve had the client who enters your store in a very bad mood,” Decker says. “Maybe he had a bad day; maybe he just had a hangnail. Maybe he shopped somewhere else and was mistreated or pre-judged. This person says he’s “just looking” in a nasty tone of voice or even says, “Leave me alone!” He is the client who may be tired of extremely pushy salespeople jumping on him as soon as he walks through the door. I’m talking about a situation in which the client speaks first and is clearly agitated.”

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Usually, you turn to another salesperson and warn him away from the client, Decker says. And then the client leaves and says, “Man, you can’t get waited on in there!” So when you tried to leave him alone as he said he wanted, it actually backfired on you. “The second sale-killer,” Decker says, “is when you bird-dog the client even though he asked for space. You stayed too close to him, making him feel uncomfortable. He thinks you don’t trust him — you think he’s trying to steal something. And, he still leaves empty-handed and unhappy.”

DO SAY: “How do you take your coffee?”

DON’T SAY: “Who peed in your Wheaties?” “You having a bad day?” “It’s Christmas; lighten up!”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Kill him with kindness, advises Decker. “It goes like this: Client: ‘I’m just looking.’ You (with a smile): ‘You know, I always do that before I buy. Take your time; we want you to have fun while you’re here.’ A few moments later, re-approach the client with a mug of coffee in hand, asking ‘How do you take your coffee? We want all of our guests to feel at home.’ The secret to making this work is to go get the coffee without asking. Bring cream and sweetener too. It’s funny — when you bring it to him, he’ll take it. If you ask him if he wants it, he’ll say no. So always take it.” Bring a chocolate chip cookie, too.

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS: May be muttering or snapping at you. Trailed by a black cloud.

ADAGE TO REMEMBER: Become a servant with a smile.

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The Bespoke and Bamboozled

PROFILE: Deric Metzger of DeMer Jewelry in Carlsbad, CA, has seen his share of this type. “We always get these around the holidays, the folks who want an entirely custom piece on a ridiculously short timeline and can’t make up their minds until the deadline has passed for the 11th hour. We pretty much always end up convincing them to simply modify an existing design. We get a sale, and they get to say, ‘I had this made for you.’”

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: You say no and the customer goes elsewhere.

DO SAY: “What’s most important to you?” “What do you mean by custom, exactly?”

DON’T SAY: “Are you crazy? There’s no time for custom.” “No way!”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO:Sell a diamond and a simple solitaire mounting, then offer to trade the mounting as a down payment on a custom piece of jewelry after his proposal. “Most guys don’t know that is an option, to present a solitaire,” Kibby says.

Lisa McConnell of Lisa McConnell Design Studio in Fort Worth, TX, offers the customer a gift certificate. She has found that when it comes time to make the piece, that amount is often doubled.

Ask the right questions. “Find out what they need and why it’s important,” Peterson says. “Make it personal. It’s about them, not you, not your store. It’s been drilled into us to tell the customer what’s important in a diamond or a piece of jewelry. Instead, ask them what’s important to them and find a way to give them what they need.”

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS: Most likely a millennial engagement-ring shopper.

ADAGE TO REMEMBER: “Stop selling. Start helping.” — Zig Ziglar

The Just Looking

PROFILE: “We get the folks who look at everything, take up time when you are packed, won’t tell you what they really are looking for and then say, ‘I just wanted to get ideas for my anniversary in June!’” says Rosanne Kroen of Rosanne’s Diamonds & Gold.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Sometimes the reason people say they are just looking is that’s what every customer says to every salesperson, Peterson says. “If you sound like a salesperson, you will be treated like a salesperson. But sometimes you don’t know where they’ve been or what happened to them. Maybe they were accosted at the last three stores they were in. Maybe it isn’t you.”

DO SAY: “Well, just look at this!” (And show her a large and gorgeous loose diamond.)

DON’T SAY: “Take a look around and let me know if you see something you like.”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: When you show the customer something she doesn’t necessarily want (like a large, brilliant, loose diamond), she’s afraid you’re going to try to sell that to her, Decker says. She will then tell you very quickly what she does want! On the other hand, she actually might buy it. Wowing a client costs you nothing but time. And it creates momentum. If she thinks of buying a diamond later on, guess who she will think of? You.

Says Kibby: “Ask questions, like ‘What did you hope to accomplish on your visit today?’ Create an urgency or explain why it might be a good idea to buy today. Offer a wish list or lay-away plans or financing. Whatever you do, don’t write them off. We are so eager to rush off to the next customer because we are sure they are going to buy, but we never truly know who is going to buy.”

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS: Skulking around the store’s perimeter in an aimless manner. Hiding from sales associates.

ADAGE TO REMEMBER: Just look at this!

The Happy Hour

PROFILE: “We have a restaurant/bar across the street,” says Hank Haan of Haan Jewelers in Byron Center, MI. “There’s always that one guy who’s been spending his Christmas bonus check on drinks for everybody and a big tip for the waitress. He sees our jewelry store on the way to his car, comes in and buys the biggest piece of jewelry he can find. Nine times out of 10 that same piece of jewelry is returned by an apologetic wife who explains, “We can’t afford this right now.”

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: If he’s really out of hand or belligerent, ask him to leave.

DO SAY: “Tell me about the person you’re shopping for.” “Have a cup of coffee and let me call you a cab!”

DON’T SAY: “You’ve had too many cocktails and you’re spending too much!”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Handle him the same way you would any other customer. Show him the things he’s looking for, Kibby suggests. Engage him in conversation, but don’t ask hard questions. If you can find out more about the person who will be wearing the jewelry you can guide him to the right item and minimize the chance of it coming back, Peterson says. “As you become the expert, it becomes very easy to help them find the right item.” Decker suggests the only course of action is to give him a cup of coffee and call him a cab. You could save his life, and he’ll probably be back when he’s sober and ready to shop more sensibly.

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS: Gregariously outgoing; possibly wobbly.

ADAGE TO REMEMBER: A drunken man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts.

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The Unassuming Millionaire

PROFILE: The stuff of legends. A scruffy guy comes into the store and is shunned by the entire sales staff. He turns out to be quite wealthy (famous even), and the lone salesperson who is professional and polite winds up selling him a 3-carat diamond, and becoming his personal jeweler for life.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Everyone scatters like they have a million things to do, Peterson says. “Most people are smart enough not to say the wrong thing, but their body language gives them away,” she says. The very worst thing is to ignore the customer and then swarm around him, gushing and name-dropping, once you figure out he is rich and/or famous.

“Pre-judging and assuming are killing thousands of jewelry sales every day, all over the country,” Decker says. Wealthy people want to be comfortable. They dress down … at least once in a while. And so many jewelry salespeople are underselling their customers’ potential, it’s costing them dollars not only at the point of sale, but in future sales as well.” Customers want to go to a store that really wows them — in other words, that sells to their full potential.

DO SAY: “Welcome!”

DON’T SAY:“Please wipe your feet!”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: “You can never know who is a buyer,” Decker says. “Wow every person who comes into your store — yes, even the guy in the black AC/ DC concert T-shirt. Show them your best stuff. Then let them tell you if it costs too much. Otherwise, shoot for the moon. You never know when you might hit it!”

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS: Scruffy, but may arrive in an expensive car, top-of-the-line tractor, or by limo.

ADAGE TO REMEMBER: Beware the grass that looks greener; it may be Astroturf.

The Know it All

PROFILE: “We used to call them folder guys,” Peterson says. “Now they are iPad guys. He brings all of his information — and often misinformation along.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: An inexperienced sales associate may not make a convincing case for your store’s expertise. Or, a defensive sales associate starts an argument. Or, an experienced staff member, reacting to the customer, gets hung up on technical information. Decker says technical information should make up only 10 percent of your total presentation. “If you give any customer too much information, he will leave because you are not listening to his needs. However, if he wants the information and you don’t give it, he will think you don’t have the knowledge and will lose confidence in you.” It’s a fine line to walk.

DO SAY: “Congratulations on doing your homework.” “We really appreciate an educated consumer.” “That’s an interesting observation and a lot of people really do think that.”

DON’T SAY: “That can’t be true!” “That’s an impossible price!”

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: If you’ve got nothing to hide as a professional and are at the top of your game, this person could be your best friend, Peterson says. Find a way to agree with something he is saying. He is going to acknowledge that you are showing him respect. Recognize that more than 90 percent of shoppers do some research online, and that if he wanted to buy on the Internet, he would have pushed the button already. “The minute they walk in the door they stop being an Internet buyer and they are yours to lose,” Peterson says. Identify the reason he did not buy online, Kibby says. It’s likely he wanted to see it in person. Use the opportunity to build a relationship, to give him the best service he could ever expect to get. Listen carefully to what his needs are, ask him what he loved about what he saw online. That will help steer you in the right direction in the store.

CHARACTERISTICS: Clutching an iPad. Will ask about your credentials.

ADAGE TO REMEMBER: There’s a reason they didn’t buy online.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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5 Watch Brands Your Customers Want this Holiday Season

As they become more interesting and affordable, watches are appealing to a younger audience.

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HONESTLY, IT’S AGAINST my better judgement that I’m even writing a “holiday” article as a staunch believer in giving Thanksgiving the attention it deserves. But because I am smart enough to realize that this battle is one I’m going to lose, I figured I may as well give in by writing something about watches.

Social media is largely to thank for the watch world being given a second chance. Not that it was “dead” by any stretch, but it did seem – prior to Instagram – that it was moving around a bit more slowly than it had in the past. Now, thanks to watch enthusiast groups, forum feeds, popular hashtags and even an interest in the vintage market, watches are not only sought-after again, but are becoming more interesting and affordable. That is making them appealing to a younger audience.

If your store doesn’t already carry the Crown or the Cross (Rolex or Patek Philippe), chances are, it could be a long time before it ever will, if you’d even want to go in that direction. But that doesn’t mean you can’t stock your store with more modestly priced watch brands that are having a moment right now.

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Here are five popular watch brands that you could get requests for this holiday season.

Doxa

DOWHATNOW? Yeah, people … Doxa. The Swiss watch brand has been around since 1889, and its watches have graced the wrists of both the famous ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau and his son, dive legend Jean-Michel Cousteau. Doxa is “the diver’s dive watch”: understated, affordable and reliable. And while you may not recognize the name at first glance, chances are you have, at some point, seen older images of divers wearing a watch with a bright orange dial, and that watch was likely a Doxa.

Doxa’s new SUB 300T Conquistador – released recently as a tribute to the brand’s original model, which came out in 1969 – is available in six dial colors: the original orange as well as yellow, navy blue, turquoise, silver and black. The SUB 300T is water resistant to 4,000 feet (120 bar), has a 42-hour power reserve and retails for $1,890.

Nomos

While not nearly as old as the manufacturer listed above, NOMOS Glashütte has still put its time (no pun intended) into the watchmaking industry and has earned a solid reputation, particularly as a brand up against some of the more recognizable German watch manufacturers (*cough* Lange *cough*).

But one thing that distinguishes NOMOS is the crowd with whom its becoming popular. For example, Colin Meloy – front man for indie rock group The Decemberists – wears a NOMOS Glashütte Tangente Neomatik, and Colin Meloy ROCKS. So listen up, retailers: If you have millennial customers, look into NOMOS, because its exactly the type of watch the cool kids, who care about quality and value, want.

The NOMOS Tetra Plum is a new release and has caught the attention of both male and female watch wearers. The 29.5mm square case contains a stunning dial in a deep shade of violet, and the power reserve indicator lets the wearer know when the handwound DUW 4301 caliber movement needs to be rewound.

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G-Shock

If you’re a retail store that’s been in business for a long time, it might be hard for you to wrap your head around the fact that I’m telling you that G-Shock, or any Casio-related product, is a brand you should be carrying. Chances are you hear the word “Casio” and think of that scene in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles when John Candy’s character tries to entice a hotel manager to give him a room for “$2 and, uh … and a Casio.” But today’s G-Shocks are not the G-Shocks of old. In fact, they are worn and respected by some of the most recognizable watch personalities in the world.

The newly released GMW-B5000D-1 pays homage to the first G-SHOCK model DW-5000C, which was introduced in 1983. The original square design has been recreated with a full-metal shock-resistant structure, advanced functions and Smartphone Link. It’s a throwback, sure, but it sure looks cool.

Bell and Ross

Founded in 1992 by two childhood friends, Bell & Ross has spent the last 27 years building a solid reputation in the U.S. as an affordable, dependable and yet still fashion-forward watch brand.
With an Instagram following well over 300,000, and fan pages such as @bellandrossworld and @bellrosswiki, the brand has managed to reach a whole new community of buyers and collectors that swear by the manufacturer’s quality and have no problem singing its praises.

The brand recently introduced a limited edition watch exclusive to the Americas: the BR03-92 Diver Bronze Navy Blue in 42mm, retailing for $3,990 here in the States.

Grand Seiko

This might be one of those moments that call for the “#ifyouknowyouknow” hashtag, because if you’re a retailer that already carries this sought-after brand, then you already know why it has made this list.

I don’t think I really understood the draw to Grand Seiko until recently, when I was invited to emcee a watch competition at Little Treasury Jewelers in Gambrills, MD, during their two-day Time Out watch fair. Truly, I never saw so many Grand Seikos sold in one day. People drove from hours away and a handful even flew in for the event, but what stood out most of all was that everybody wanted to tell me about the watch they were wearing. It was astonishing to witness and it opened my eyes even more to Grand Seiko’s public appeal.

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One of the most stunning examples of the brand’s emphasis on elegant design combined with its commitment to produce quality mechanical timepieces has to be the Grand Seiko SBGA211 (also known as the “Snowflake”) from the Heritage Collection. Powered by Spring Drive, Grand Seiko’s unique caliber, the Snowflake has a 72-hour power reserve that is tracked by the power reserve indicator on the bottom left of the watch’s perfectly textured white dial.

As honorable mentions, I’d also recommend looking into brands like Oris, Hamilton and Bremont, as those are three watch companies continuing to find their strengths among younger watch enthusiasts.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Shane Decker

4 Sales Meetings You Must Hold Before the Holidays

Cover these topics to maximize your selling opportunities this season.

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FROM DEC. 1 TO the 24th, closing ratios double and impulse sales skyrocket. The problem? It’s too easy. Salespeople tend to slip into lackadaisical sales practices because the sales happen either way.

Unfortunately, this endangers repeat business and could even cost you holiday sales.

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To prevent this from occurring, hold sales meetings over the next four weeks and address each of these topics in turn.

1. Store Floor Awareness: Emphasize that your team must know what’s happening at all times with all clients. There’s an old wives’ tale that whoever is closest to the door is the greeter; not true. If you’re near the close, you’re not going to turn away to greet a new customer. That means someone else needs to be ready. Has the client been greeted? Does a salesperson need an assist? Is the client about to walk away? Teach your team how to recognize and react to these situations.

2. Wowing All Customers: Salespeople say they are too busy to do this, and that everyone has what they want already. Wrong. This is the time of year that impulse buys greatly increase. All you have to say is, “Guess what’s in the vault?” or “Guess what just came in?” Let the rest take care of itself. Show your team how to “wow” every customer and emphasize just how critical it is.

3. Closing: Clients want you to close. At Christmas time, no one is just looking; everyone is just buying. Learn to professionally create a sense of urgency, but always be honest. You can say:

  • “We only have one of these left.”
  • “These have been really popular this year.”
  • “We can’t get any more of these until after Christmas”
  • “She’s going to love it; you should do this.”
  • “We sell this item faster than we can get it in.”
  • “You’re going to be a hero; she won’t believe you did this.”

If it’s on Dec. 24, you can even say, “We close in 10 minutes. There’s not another place you can go and just look; this is it!”

4. Add-ons: Too many salespeople spin and walk to the point-of-sale after the first item is sold. When you do this, you tell the client they’re done. Instead, purchase some beautiful, small sharp scissors. From now on, once you’ve sold an item, take out your scissors, cut the tag off and lay it on the counter pad. That says you’ve sold the item, but you can continue selling.
The average Christmas buyer buys 15-20 gifts, and the average salesperson sells just one. Instead, after the first item is sold, say one of these add-on lines:

  • “This is part of a set.”
  • “We have what matches.”
  • “I gotta show you what goes with this because she’s gonna love it.”
  • “How many others are on your list?”

These are called lead-in lines because they lead into the next presentation. The average add-on takes 30 seconds because you don’t have to sell; they’re already sold.

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Commentary: The Business

Million-Dollar Seller Achieves Jewelry Dreams

Aly Martinez builds on success.

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IT STARTED WITH beads and a spool of fishing line. I had always been creative and loved anything artistic, but nothing grabbed my attention quite like jewelry. Beading in my bedroom on the weekends quickly led to jewelry-fabrication classes in high school, and by the time I graduated a hobby had turned into a passion and a dream of a life-long career. In college I majored in retail merchandising, but knew I wanted to keep my focus on jewelry. I became connected with my local Art Guild, and when I wasn’t in class I was in the studio taking every jewelry fabrication class I could get my hands on. In 2007 I began working at Kevin Kelly Jewelers, a local family operated jewelry store. There they taught me the basics of repair work, custom work and selling. I was a sponge and wanted to learn everything they were willing to teach me. Upon graduating college in 2009 I knew I wanted to keep going and to learn more, and found myself asking “What next?” I quickly discovered GIA and started on my Graduate Gemology degree. By the beginning of 2010 I started working at Jones Bros. Jewelers part-time changing watch batteries and cleaning jewelry. Again, I said yes to anything they were willing to teach me. Now fast forward nine years later, and I’m a full-time sales associate with a million dollars sold in 2018.

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So what exactly happened throughout those nine years? A lot. Selling full-time was not necessarily something I thought I’d ever do, but I quickly fell in love with the personal connections I was able to make with clients. Once I started, selling a million dollars in a year became a professional and personal goal. A goal that I added to my other goals that I never forgot about and slowly kept working toward. With the help of GIA’s Distance Education Program I was able to continue taking classes while working, and travel to Wisconsin for lab courses. And I’ll admit I put it on the back burner for a while, but creating my own jewelry line was something I’d dreamt about for years, and so I made sure to never lose sight of the initial driving force for my passion for this industry.

Year after year I came close, but never quite hit that million dollar mark. By 2018 I wasn’t ready to give up, but knew it was time to broaden my focus. I dove headfirst into the rest of my Graduate Gemology training, became a brand ambassador for Tacori, and finally created Emerald May, my own jewelry line. I traveled more than ever before – Wisconsin for labs, Vegas for trade shows, and California for Tacori and had my hands in more and more projects. Ironically, with my focus on other things I had wanted for so long, my sales continued to grow, and by the end of 2018 I was one class away from becoming a Graduate Gemologist, my own line was officially started with several pieces sold, and I had reached my goal of selling a million dollars in a year.

It’s a surreal feeling to look back on everything that’s happened over the years to get to where I am now. Something that started as a hobby has turned into a career, a career that drives me to do better every day. The million dollars became so much more than a sales goal. It was something to strive for, something to push me, and once achieved served as a symbol that with enough determination and pursuit anything is possible. It’s given me the courage to keep pursuing other goals and dreams I’ve set for myself. Looking back on all of the hard work, education, and incredible amount of support I know that dreams don’t always have to stay dreams, they truly can become your reality.

So if you’ve taken the time to read this, I hope above anything else you feel inspired. It doesn’t matter if your dreams or aspirations are the same. It’s about finding that thing that drives you day after day that leaves you wanting more. It’s about pushing yourself to go after the things you’ve always dreamed of. It’s about starting somewhere, anywhere, and never giving up or losing sight of what you want and what you’ve worked so hard for. Start at the bottom if you must, just start Be open to every opportunity thrown your way, because you never know where that may lead you. I could have said no to selling because it wasn’t something I thought I’d want to do, but years later it’s become one of my absolute favorite things to do. You never know where something may lead, so take it all in, learn as much as you can, and never lose sight of your dreams – they could be your reality someday.

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