Live From JCK Las Vegas 2013: Retailers Feeling Good Vibes at JCK

The crackling energy present on the first day of the 22nd annual JCK Show carried over into day two, prompting retailers and vendors alike to comment on the show’s feel-good vibes.

“The retailers we’ve met with are really excited to buy and are in a great mood,” said Viridiana Aparicio, sales associate for Van Nuys, Calif.–based Vanna K, which counted oversized turquoise cocktail rings and halo engagement rings among its best sellers on day one.

Rodney Hansen, sales -associate for Fresno, Calif.–based manufacturer Malakan, commented that retailers “seem excited to be able to buy more merchandise this year—it seems like they’re doing better,” adding that monogram necklaces were a big seller for his company so far.

After writing a sizable order with Pandora, Mike Testini, -co-owner of Vancouver-based -jewelry and gift store Manhattan Home, was certainly in a pleasant mood. The retailer was shopping primarily for silver and called the selection inside the Mandalay Bay Convention Center “just really good—exactly what we’re looking for.”

Doron and Linda Rozen, husband-and-wife co-owners of Doron Diamond Merchant in Memphis, Tenn., were equally impressed. “We don’t shop any of the other shows anymore,” said Linda. “Why would we? Everything is here.”

Doron said he loved the convenience of the LUXURY show, but wished he’d seen a bigger variety of styles. “It’s really the same thing: halo rings, halo rings,” he lamented. And though prices for gold and diamonds are down from last year, “we’re not seeing that reflected in the price of merchandise,” he said.

Edward Sanchez, sales associate for COMEX—a Los Angeles–based direct sales manufacturer boasting a booth covered in gold and silver chains in every imaginable thickness—said prices on gold pieces “somewhat reflected” the dip in worldwide costs, but maintained that “gold is still expensive.”

Price sensitivity was paramount for first-time LUXURY exhibitor Reece Fawcett, who showed delicate necklaces with crest charms, chunky pavé sapphire pinkie rings, and charming horse-bit bracelets that took a page from Gucci. Though silver bracelets were solid, Fawcett designed gold models with hollowed-out backsides to keep costs down.
“I really wanted to create an everyday [luxury] collection that was accessible,” she said.

Luxury—both affordable and exclusive—defined retailer Bob Woolsey’s extensive shopping list. The owner of Peoria, Ill.–based shop Jones Bros. Jewelers has been attending JCK for almost two decades, but booked an extra day onto each end of his trip this year—“partially for the LUXURY show and partially for Maroon 5,” he said, referring to the JCK Rocks the Beach concert scheduled for tonight. “The LUXURY show is really reflective of the kind of retailer we are,” he said. “We come to JCK to find new things and connect with [existing] vendors.”

The best (and worst) of jewelry retailing was laid bare at one of JCK’s signature seminars, “Shop and Share: Results of Mystery Shopping,” where speaker Nick Failla, founder of Collected Concepts, shared the results of 18 mystery shopping trips to independent fine jewelry stores with a small crowd of retailers.

The good news, said Failla: There were “many positive things” going on in the case-study stores—clean and neat displays, killer product knowledge, charitable ties, fun wish-list programs, and stellar brand assortments. But despite the positives, “zero sales were captured in any of the stores—even when we were ready to buy.”

Problems included salespeople burying customers in product knowledge—to the point where consumers actually tuned them out. In one store, for example, a GIA-certified sales associate “was just vomiting up information,” said Failla, “The 4 Cs, the whole bit.… She didn’t even notice when we started looking away from her all over the room.”

Cluttered store signage, display cases so thick with dust “you could write your name in them,” low Facebook fan numbers, and the acid odor of Mr. Clean also ruined the romance at many stores. “I mean, how long do you want to stay in a store and have your sinuses burned up?” asked Failla.

More problematic were holes in the greeting sequence. “Of the 18 stores, not one got our names,” reported Failla. “And we’re worried about the Internet? Are you serious? How are you going to sell an important piece of jewelry without knowing my name?” Sounds like someone could use some of those JCK Las Vegas–style feel-good vibes.