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How To Get the Best Out of Your Signage This Holiday Season, and More of Your Questions Answered

Plus, blanket liability waivers — will they cover you in the era of COVID-19?




Christmas signage

How can I get the best out of my signage this holiday season?

Done well, signs allow you take some control over the consumer’s eye, educate shoppers, and importantly, justify prices. At the same time, they should be like well-raised children — seen, not heard, meaning they shouldn’t scream and they shouldn’t be the focus of attention. Your goal should be for them to quietly augment the sales presentation, reinforcing the associate’s message or providing information — such as financing offers — that the customer doesn’t really want to ask for. Small signs about the designer’s background, where the gem was sourced, and discreet price tags all help build interest in a line of jewelry. But done poorly, signs clutter the customer’s view of the store or fill his head with too many words. Keep in mind, too, that shoppers love to explore and discover exciting new items, so don’t take away all the mystery with an overly officious approach to signs. Sometimes a big, beautiful black-and-white photograph of a couple in wedding attire does a better mood-setting job than a sign that declares “Bridal Department,” says Paco Underhill, author of the bestseller Why We Buy. “The purpose of the sign is to get somebody to ask a question rather than to close a deal,” he says.

Our twenty-something daughter is in line to eventually take over our store, but she doesn’t seem to share our passion for it. Should we be worried?

Over the years, we’ve talked to scores of owners from jewelry families, and they seem to fall into two broad groups: Those who never thought of doing anything else but taking over the business, and those who as teenagers were determined to do something else (anything else!) but ended up falling in love with running a jewelry store as young adults. Many of these owners also had siblings who happily found other professional paths. One of the misunderstandings about “passion” is that it is pre-ordained. Part of life’s mission is to find what your calling is. Talk to most people who are passionate about something — fly fishing, tax accountancy, jewelry, whatever — and you’ll find that this enthusiasm has often arisen from mastering a particular skill (which they may have had a predilection for). Your daughter may develop such a deep love for the business, or she may just learn to treat it as a job and do that job competently. Research has shown that while finding meaning in your professional life is important for happiness, investing too much of your identity and emotions in a job can make you vulnerable to work-related stress and actually result in worse professional performance. So don’t get overly anxious if your daughter doesn’t display too much overt passion for the business — a little bit of detachment can be a good thing. Of course, if she never learns to take any satisfaction from the job, doesn’t make the effort to build business connections, shows up late for work or whatever, then you will have to make some re-calculations.

Can I ask my staff to sign a blanket “liability waiver” to protect me from claims in the event an employee is infected with COVID-19?

No. It’s simply not enforceable, says Tiffany Stevens, CEO and general counsel for the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. A better approach is to create policies for your business and give every employee a handbook spelling out what you’re promising to ensure their safety and asking employees to promise they will take reasonable safety measures as well. Stevens recommends you hire a local employment attorney for advice on the employee handbook, since many state and local laws are changing frequently.

Sustainable sourcing seems like a big deal with younger bridal clients. But where do we start? If we start at the design stage, it’s a big commitment.

Instead of designing jewelry that requires certain materials and then searching for those materials, start with what you have or know that you can get instead, and design jewelry around that, suggests Christina Miller, co-founder of Ethical Metalsmiths. Speaking to a recent WJA webinar on responsible sourcing, she offered advice on this very subject: “This process allows you to use materials that you have sourced for sustainability, rather than being at the mercy of what you can find from unknown sources after you’ve committed to certain metals or gemstones for your design.”






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