Last fall, on a sunny September afternoon, 239 women packed the Parkersburg Art Center in Parkersburg, W. Va., to watch an artist whittle away at tiny bits of jewelers’ wax until something recognizable emerged: a bead. But it wasn’t just any bead or any artist: It was renowned Danish jewelry designer Mette Saabye creating some of her signature sterling silver floral styles at the Designing Woman Trollbead Designer Event, the centerpiece of a four-day trunk show held in conjunction with Parkersburg’s Buttermore Jewelers.
The show kicked off on a Sunday with $15,345 in sales; another $25,000 was rung up over the next three days, a boon that Buttermore had experienced only once before. “In February 2009, we had an event called Super Troll Sunday,” recalls store owner Cathy Buttermore. “We sold $70,000 as part of that three-day trunk show.” (Not even the 36 inches of snow deterred 420 women from making their way to the Super Troll. Says Buttermore, “Those women find a way to get there!”)
The Designing Woman gathering combined customers’ passions for the beads, priced $28–$117 in silver and $31–$63 in glass, with their desire to meet Saabye. The popular Trollbeads designer happily signed collectors’ catalogs and even a few personal jewelry boxes. “She works with completely down-to-earth sources of inspiration,” comments Buttermore. One standout: the Zucchini Flower bead, a best seller at $53 retail.
Mette Saabye’s Zucchini Flower bead in sterling silver; $53; Trollbeads, Princeton, N.J.; 609-936-3939; trollbeadsuniverse.com
The store brought its entire Trollbeads line—about 3,000 beads, selling 495—to the Art Center, and offered a buy-three-glass-beads-get-one-free promotion. Plus, Trollbeads reps brought a few hundred additional beads to supplement Buttermore’s inventory. For a $20 admission fee, attendees enjoyed a lunch of chicken salad, iced tea, and mini cupcakes, and received a Trollbeads tote bag containing one silver retired bead, a polishing cloth, and a $20 Buttermore gift certificate. Store expenses—$3,000 for food and bags—were offset by the admission fee, allowing Buttermore and the bead brand to donate $3,000 to the Art Center and $3,500 to the Parkersburg Humane Society. “We raffled off an extra bracelet for the Humane Society,” says Buttermore.
“It created excitement about Trollbeads which increased sales long after the event,” says Buttermore. “It put our name and Trollbeads in a positive light with donations to the community. It’s a big social event where everyone talks about their beads.”
Plus, Buttermore got a dog out of the deal: a 1-year-old cattle breed mix named Allie, who climbed onto her lap when Buttermore dropped off the donation check at the Humane Society. “The director said, ‘Why don’t you take her home with you?’ ” So she did, and promptly gave Allie Buttermore her own Facebook fan page and a job as store greeter.
“We have been doing very well with our own Images Basics silver line, which retails for $50 to just north of $500, as well as John Hardy and Zina Sterling. Earrings—particularly dangles and drops—sell best from all three lines. For women, earrings are like shoes; they can never have enough. For Valentine’s Day gifts, silver represents a good price point, as opposed to Christmas where people will spend $1,000 or more on a gift.”
—Shawn Klose, marketing associate, Images Jewelers, Elkhart, Ind.