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The Thing About Trunk Shows That Nobody Ever Told You

Our Brain Squad weighs in on what they wish they had known.

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  • You will be surprised at what people will buy … — Roger Pauling, Lapidary Arts Custom Jewelry, Plano, TX
  • Sometimes having the sales rep in the store can hurt. Especially when they are not familiar with your business style and clients. I once had a client who was not clicking with the sales rep that was assisting ask my salesperson, “Am I dealing with you or him?” Reps need to be told the barriers in your store. They can be too pushy and turn retail clients off, especially if they do not have a retail background. Now, I make sure a sales rep is the right fit for our culture before they can work with my clients. — Eric Stevens, Stevens Diamond Jewelers, West Springfield, MA
  • Like everything else in life, you get out of them what you put into them. A strong, coordinated team effort will yield positive results. If the effort is not there, the success will not be there either. Additionally, you can’t always count on the designer’s attendance to make a difference. It is you, the inviting salesperson, that they are truly coming to see. — Jon Walp, Long Jewelers, Virginia Beach, VA
  • I have found that many companies’ salespeople are far less driven than me. I have had 76 trunk shows in 31 years and have found a select few that always show up, stay the entire day and help rather than demand concessions. — Corrie Brown, Parkhill Jewelry, Ephrata, PA
  • That you are wise to get groups involved because people are more likely to show when they know others are going. — Cathy Miller, Caleesi Designs Jewelers, Austin, TX
  • Sometimes the vendor will send us their crap unless we specify. — Meg Rankin, J. Rankin Jewellers, Edmonds, WA
  • Don’t let the husbands have too many cocktails, otherwise a 10-carat yellow diamond tennis bracelet can wind up in said cocktail. LOL. — Mary Jo Chanski, Hannoush Jewelers, Rutland, VT
  • That if the designer is not a great salesperson, it really becomes a painful experience. We do better with brands that send us a trunk for an event than having a wishy-washy presence on our sales floor. There are certain designer brands who send a rep and that almost never works. We plan events, not just “trunk shows,” because our clientele does not appreciate being hard-sold. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA
  • Unless you advertise it months in advance, no one shows up. — Chris Wattsson, Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers, Marquette, MI
  • They are a lot of work and the payoff is good, but it often comes after the actual trunk show in the form of increased business for the brand. — Dorothy Vodicka, The Gem Collection, Tallahassee, FL
  • How complicated they can get. — Allan Uyesugi, AA Jewel Box, Tustin, CA
  • Find something new and different. Exciting. Invite only a few exclusive clients. Make it special. We used our conference room, served a light lunch, mimosas, etc. Do not do the same show over and over again year after year. It’s boring for the staff and the customers. — Georgena Kincaid, Gold Casters Fine Jewelry, Bloomington, IN
  • Lots of pre-marketing and calling clients … very time-consuming. — Michael Freed, Palmer’s Jewelry, Kokomo, IN
  • The vendor is very disappointed if you do not sell a lot of items. Customers are not as interested as you would like. But we still do them. — Linda Brown, Heritage Jewelers, Shelbyville, TN
  • I love trunk shows if you are partnered with the right vendor. They have to do their part to promote their product, too. If you and the vendor work together to promote the show, it will be a success. — Annette Evans, RD Allen Freeport Jewelers, Freeport, ME
  • The most effective way to get customers there is the old-fashioned telephone invitation, not just advertising. — Georgie Gleim, Gleim The Jeweler, Palo Alto, CA
  • Don’t let the designer or the company tell you how to run your show or display your merchandise. You know your clientele and your layout. Help them fit into your mix. Advertise, then call, then email and let your customers know what you’re doing for their benefit! — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL
  • You gain a ton of new customers! Trunk shows attract people that have never considered your store. Also, the new customers tend to become your most loyal customers. — Erica Lorenz, Michael & Sons, Reno, NV
  • I stopped doing them a long time ago as the salesmen were not knowledgeable, were unprepared, and often brought product they wanted to get rid of and not what our clientele was looking for. Nobody told me to prepare for those contingencies. — David Blitt, Troy Shoppe Jewellers, Calgary, AB

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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Parian & Sons of Franklin Lakes, NJ was founded in the early part of the 20th century. But even stores that have successfully made it through the Great Depression, a World War and the Woodstock Generation must come to an end. With no family wanting to continue the tradition, the time was right for Glenn Parian and his wife, Maria, to retire. And what better way to do so than by hiring Wilkerson to help with the store’s liquidation sale. As Glenn puts it, with his credit card machine humming to the tune of up to 200 transactions a day, he couldn’t have done it without Wilkerson. “This is what they do,” he says. “This is what they do for everybody.”

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