JCK Show: ‘Good design is good business’

A cost-effective upgrade is one way to improve jewelry sales, says Ruth Mellergaard, principal of GRID/3 International Inc., a New York interior design firm.

Mellergaard told jewelers during a presentation at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas that because of increased competition, more awareness of security issues, and the advent of the Internet, people need to be encouraged to go shopping. She said that store upgrades and renovations help provide that encouragement by making the shopping experience more pleasurable for old and new customers. “Stores should provide a comfortable, relaxing, less stressful experience,” she said.

A quality upgrade also helps motivate the staff and saves money in the cost of operating a store.

Mellergaard said all upgrades involve three key issues: budget, focus, and time. The most basic upgrades can cost as little as $10,000 to $15,000. That amount of money will provide a “visual upgrade,” she said, paying primarily for decorating services such as wall treatments, the movement of displays and merchandise, and other items that reflect design trends and the mood of the country. Two-colored stores are popular today, she said, with the most popular colors being red and blue. Neutral colors (such as brown, black, and white) are popular, too. Green and purple are also popular, depending on the store’s image.

Nostalgia and hand-finished work (such as murals) represent another trend, Mellergaard said.

Paint is popular because the color can be easily changed to reflect trends and can make a store look new for little money.

If focus is the primary driver, then decisions are based on the situation of the jeweler and how the jeweler plans to manage challenges. For example, if a retailer wants to move, the question of the new store’s focus should be addressed.

If budget is the main consideration, the jeweler may want to consider track lighting (which is less expensive and more flexible than down lighting) and sticking with standard cases. If security or operational issues are key, a designer will create a program that will meet those needs.

Time is as important as money, Mellergaard said. The most important decision is whether a jeweler should close or remain open during the renovation. Mellergaard provided examples of both scenarios and how they were successful.

In the end, an upgrade or renovation needs to meet several needs, Mellergaard said. “It should look better, but more importantly, it should improve the operation of your store and sell more jewelry.”