Belenky Brothers jewelry gallery survived world wars, the Great Depression, and endless changes in style and taste, but it faced its biggest challenge Sept. 11. Located just blocks from Ground Zero in the SoHo district of New York City, the store was shut down for three days and did no business at all for three months.
Keynote speaker Lucette Bloomgarden, co-owner of the sixth-generation family business, survived the experience by using what she called “the Homeric approach,” taken from the story of Odysseus in The Iliad and The Odyssey. The Homeric approach is based on three principles: resourcefulness, endurance, and the use of many counsels.
Bloomgarden advised jewelers to use this approach to get out of their comfort zones and to look for innovative ways to service current customers and attract new ones. “We all fall into a comfort zone,” she said. “We get lulled into a state where we don’t want to change. We all have to force ourselves to think out of the box.”
Bloomgarden used this approach to discuss the “Do’s and Don’ts” of buying jewelry and how to shop The JCK Show in her speech, titled
“How to Buy Jewelry in Uncertain Times.”
Among her points were:
* Have a plan to buy things that will sell for your clients. “The very rich know how to spend, and they spend their money judiciously.”
* Buy with an eye toward the classical and traditional. “9/11 changed us all,” Bloomgarden said. “People now want to buy classical and traditional jewelry.”
* Look for items that can be worn all the time. Bloomgarden said this is another fashion trend. “Look for jewelry that can be worn in the office, at night, and while walking the dog.”
* Stock more watches. “Watches are even more popular today, because people can justify it as a pragmatic purchase.”
* Place an emphasis on bridal jewelry. “People are marrying younger again,” Bloomgarden said.
* Buy affordable items for impulse buying.
Bloomgarden also offered hints for shopping The JCK Show. She explained that no one can do the entire show and benefit from the experience. It requires a mix of preplanning, having a daily plan while at the show, and post-planning.
Bloomgarden stressed that in the preplanning phase “you must know your product mix” and develop a plan to enhance that mix. “Do not leave your store so understocked that as the economy turns-and you know it will-you cannot satisfy the clients that do come in.”