Defining Success

Craig Husar, owner of Lyle Husar Designs, isn’t known as an estate jewelry destination in his Brookfield, WI market. The estate jewelry sale events he held from 1998 to 2002 were “marginally successful,” in the store owner’s own words. Given this history, why would a jeweler in a Midwestern city host a $2 million estate jewelry event with a well-known New York company?

The answer is simple. Husar is a jeweler who has adopted an “event-driven” marketing and promotions strategy. “Our goal is to shake people out of their shells to see jewelry that is interesting and beautiful,” says Husar.

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If this is part of how Husar and his staff define success, than their recent estate sale accomplished the desired advertising objectives. How so? As we’re in the thick of football season, let’s take a look at the event in the context of wins and losses columns.

The losses:
Of the $2 million in estate jewelry, Stephen L. Singer, the New York firm that partnered with Husar for the store event, was hoping for a minimum of $30,000 in sales. Roughly $10,000 in retail sales were rung in for an event that wasn’t well-attended given the number of invites.

The wins:
Husar gave his customers yet another reason to come into the store as part of the store owner’s ambitious goal of hosting at least one in-store event each month. Stephen L. Singer, Inc. hosts over a thousand special in-store estate jewelry events each year. Husar’s recent event was planned and executed at a level consistent with the prominent estate jewelry company’s many estate jewelry sales conducted annually across the nation.

Promoting the event in his market included an appearance on the “Morning Blend Show,” a morning news commentary/talk show by an NBC affiliate. Husar appeared on the show with John Head of Stephen L. Singer, an expert who with Husar talked about estate jewelry for roughly eight minutes. They also talked up some of the celebrity pieces that gave some star power to the estate jewelry store event.

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Some celebrity headliners included: A money clip owned by Bob Hope given to him by Jack Benny; a platinum and diamond ring from Cher’s private collection; two rings and a brooch that once belonged to Mary Pickford, a Canadian motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and a Victorian brooch that belonged to June Carter Cash, the second wife of country singer Johnny Cash.

“There were a number of people who came in just to see some these pieces,” says Husar. “It allowed us to not only show the celebrity pieces but introduce people to our store and our own jewelry.”

On the morning show Head also discussed trends in estate jewelry, which proved to be one of the more interesting exchanges. Leading trends in estate jewelry according to Head include Art Deco rings, larger bold yellow gold pieces and rose gold styles from the 1940s that are part of a retro revival movement.

It’s not surprising that Tacori and Simon G, Husar’s leading bridal lines, are incorporating vintage styles into their current collections. “People who came in to look at the estate displays also checked out our own store’s new jewelry lines that are reminiscent of these time-honored styles. It was a small number of people, but such sales conversions [from the estate sales event] did happen.”

In addition to the show appearance, promoting the event was just what Husar spent on sending direct mailers to 4,000 customers in his store’s database and his own time promoting the event on Facebook. “The event was less than 1 percent of my marketing and promotions budget,” says Husar.

Tallying another check in the wins column was “getting several dozen new customers in our database,” says Husar. The store owner and his staff also had the chance to sell many estate pieces to their regular customers, who made up the lion’s share sales at the event.

A circumstantial review of Husar’s event might lead one to conclude that an estate jewelry event may not have been the best match for a store that has a custom jewelry design niche in the Milwaukee market.

But when weighing the “wins” against the “losses,” the success of an event can be defined by gains other than the slams dunks at the cash/wrap counter.