Adding Gifts to Your Merch Mix: 5 Questions for Specialty Retail Expert Patricia Norins

Even if sterling silver frames and pillboxes aren’t your normal stock-in-trade, you might want to consider adding a curated selection of gift items to your inventory for the holidays, says Patricia Norins, a specialty retail expert and director of the Specialty Retail Entrepreneur Expo and Conference. Below, the retail pro shares a few tips for integrating gifts into a jewelry store setting.

JCK: Why is it a good idea for jewelers to add gifts to their inventory around the holidays?

Patricia Norins: I feel like it’s a good idea because right now this marketplace is more challenging than ever before. Adding new items introduces some different price points and categories. Numbers are the name of the game during the holidays, and this gets more people into the door. A jeweler can do an email blast talking about the really unique gift items they have in—for hostess gifts and even teacher gifts.

JCK: What are you seeing in the market that’s really selling strongly in gifts?

Norins: Costume jewelry is really big, which is great news for fine jewelers. I would say that candlesticks and frames are always strong sellers, but there can be price resistance there. I think around the holiday season people are looking for something that’s unique and special. A frame from a jewelry store that’s nicely wrapped and presented beautifully has more cachet than if it came from a big box store in the [middle] of the year.

JCK: What specific gift items are good fits for a jewelry store?

Norins: If you’re a high-end jeweler, I would say turn to sterling silver and aim for gifts that are in the $50 to $100 range that are in line with the store’s brand and reputation. People shopping for those types of gifts will hopefully find a few things among the jewelry offerings that they would want for themselves. Then they tell their husbands and the husbands come in.

JCK: What’s the easiest way for a retailer to source gift items?

Norins: There are a number of resources—Gift Shop magazine, gift shows. And there’s a permanent merchandise mart in most major cities that usually has a day a week open to the trade.

JCK: What types of gifts are not good fits for a fine jewelry store?

Norins: Anything that too far away from a store’s brand. Retailers need to figure out how to best serve their customer base, then try to reach customers who are a step away from that base.