Holiday Advice and Tips from Jewelers

Jewelers of America members presented several ways that retailers can have a successful holiday season. Their main advice is to stay positive and to focus on strong relationships with their customers and communities.

“The reality is that Santa is still coming and people will be purchasing,” says Jewelers of America Chairman John Green, owner of Lux Bond & Green (www.lbgreen.com), West Hartford, Conn.

While relationships are always important to the business, many JA members, such as Michael Pollak, chief executive officer of Hyde Park Jewelers (www.hydeparkjewelers.com), say the attitude and approach retailers take this year will be key.

“It is really easy to get caught up in the negative news of the day, and it’s important for all retailers not to reflect that negativity when a client comes in the store,” he says. “We’re in the celebration business and people have many things to celebrate over the holidays; that’s where the focus needs to be.”

Pollak is also reinforcing customer relationships. He says those retailers who wait for shoppers to come into their store could have a tough time, while those who reach out will be rewarded with a good or decent season.

Coleman Clark, president of B.C. Clark Jewelers (www.bcclark.com), Oklahoma City, Okla., says he’s focusing on the store’s top customers increasing its no-strings-attached gift certificate from the top 5 percent to the top 10 percent in order to build traffic.

“We’re going to focus on unit sales and encourage people to call their best customers and get them in the store and build those relationships,” Clark said.

JA members are making sure to support the communities they operate in during this holiday season.

John Henne, president & CEO of Henne Jewelers (hennejewelers.com), Pittsburgh, Pa, said the store continues to give more than 15 percent of its marketing budget to support about 40 to 60 charities annually. The efforts include everything from donations of jewelry to sponsorships.

JA board member Jeff Corey, president of Day’s Jewelers, Waterville, Me., discussed his “Diamonds for Peace” program, in which the store donates $10 of every diamond sold to charity. Additionally, the store will be a major sponsor of community children’s Christmas programs.

“Organizations are having a tough time finding sponsors, so our investment is much more appreciated during these tough times,” Corey said.

Cutting costs is also important this holiday season, according to Lee Berg, president & chief executive store of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry (www.lmfj.com), Baton Rouge, La., for his eight store locations in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.

Among the cost saving measures implemented were a salary and hiring freeze, and the elimination of gift wrappers and overtime. In terms of advertising, Berg says he’s not cutting the budget, but has renegotiated contracts—which led to tremendous savings.

John Green, Lux Bond & Green, says sales staff needs to reassure customers that the store has the right merchandise in the right price ranges.

Jewelers of America Board Vice-Chair Georgie Gleim, president of Gleim the Jeweler (www.gleimjewelers.com), in Palo Alto, Calif., said his stores have a mix of price points, but will highlight more affordable items.

“I think we’ll see far more people spending $5,000 and under,” she said. “We’re trying to strategically display pieces in our window that are under $1,000.” Gleim is also emphasizing the store’s estate jewelry business, which includes product in the $100 to $300 range.