Rapaport Magazine
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Retail Rap

By Phyllis Schiller
HOW ARE YOU PROMOTING HOLIDAY SHOPPING?

Beny Sofer
The 4Cs are not the only things that make a piece of diamond jewelry a sales winner. In an ongoing series, Rapaport Magazine explores the “3Ws” — what’s selling, what’s not and why — by going straight to the people who really know — jewelry retailers. Each month, we ask a sampling of retailers to comment on the important issues that are facing the industry today. Here is what they had to say when asked: “What are your expectations for the holidays? What have you stocked for the season?”

STEVEN SINGER, OWNER
STEVEN SINGER JEWELERS
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
   “Our expectations are very high, both locally and nationally — in our showroom and online and by our toll-free number. We are a bridal store and a diamond store and that is certainly our focus and our strength. And we’ve gone very heavy into colored diamonds. We have yellow, green, blue, black, brown, rose diamonds…and that’s been moving very well across the board in fashion jewelry — pendants, earrings, bracelets, rings and that type of thing. We’ve seen a fad with four or five of those items. It’s too early to say it’s a trend but we are stocked and ready if it becomes one.
   “This year, for the first time, we’re doing a formal wish list promotion and we’ve had several hundred people fill out their wish lists. We’re hoping it will be in the thousands in the next few days.”

DANNY OVERBEY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
KIMBALL’S JEWELERS
KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE
   “We’re looking forward to the highest December we’ve ever had in the history of the store in gross sales. We have added 30-plus percent to our advertising budget and we have picked up three new brands this year to introduce something fresh and new. We featured them in our magazine that we sent out to about 12,000 folks in our community, so they were points of interest that should directly drive business. And we are offering things across the price spectrum. Our big push is to let everyone know that they’re welcome and to offer something for any economic budget. Whether customers are buying $30 little earrings or a $50,000 bracelet, they will get exactly the same treatment. It’s not about the dollar value but the relationships we’re growing.”

KAREN PRIDE, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING
CROSS JEWELERS
PORTLAND, MAINE
   “We do anticipate it being a very strong season. We make a lot of our own jewelry and we’ve come out with more new designs this year than we’ve done in many, many years in anticipation of it being a really good year. We specialize in jewelry set with the tourmaline gems mined right here in Maine. We also are strong in diamonds and we specialize in doing designs that are unique to us. And we find we’re pulling people from literally hundreds of miles away who will drive to our store or call because we have what they want. We kept hearing people say they wanted to be able to put on jewelry and be comfortable wearing it. Some really beautiful jewelry designs are the equivalent of wearing six-inch spiked-heeled shoes; they look good but you’re not going to walk very far in them. We try to go the other direction, creating jewelry that is beautiful but very comfortable and very safe and secure.
   “We’ve had the strongest August, September and October in the history of our store, so we feel like we’ve had a running start to the season this year.”

RICHARD NEUSTAEDTER, OWNER
NEUSTAEDTER’S FINE JEWELRY
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
   “I have high hopes for the season. What makes it interesting for us is that I’m a master hand engraver and I do a lot of designs and carvings and unique pieces. People are aware of that and they try to give us enough time in advance. We’ve seen some orders, but in the past ten years, it’s been more last-minute shoppers. I think diamond bracelets are going to be good for the holidays.”

LUCIAN LEE, OWNER
HALE’S JEWELERS
GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA
   “I don’t know if the past week or so is any indication for the holidays, but we’ve been really busy. The market is good, all the indicators are good; it’s been a good year so far and I expect the season to be real good.
   “We’ve added a little more to bridal and we’ve added a couple of designer lines we didn’t have a year ago. The diamond business is still really good. And we’ve gone a bit deeper into the high-end silver fashion pieces, $700 to $1,000 items, than we have before and I expect it to be strong for the season. I’m sure the holiday sales will ebb and flow as always. But it’s starting off nice and I’m pretty excited.”

JULIA GARDNER, CO-OWNER
DAVID GARDNER’S JEWELERS
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS
   “I would say that our expectations are cautious — with all the things that have been going on politically and the fact that it’s a late Thanksgiving — but optimistic. We don’t have any reason to be terribly afraid. Our community is a big college football town and the Heisman Trophy winner was from our college in 2012 and it was an energy driver and that’s good for us.
   “Based on the past few Christmases, we’re stocking basics, the bread-and-butter items that people seem to want and are more comfortable with. This past week, we’ve seen a little uptick in those people who plan ahead for the holidays, which was a nice surprise.”

BRUCE ARNOLD, OWNER
ARNOLD’S FINE JEWELRY
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA
   “I have no great expectations for this holiday season. Modest is the best word for me to use. We did put in fashion jewelry with ‘wiggly’ diamonds that are set so that they move around. It’s something different and they catch your eye. We have started to see holiday shoppers. People tend to wake up around the middle of November and think about the holidays.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - December 2013. To subscribe click here.

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