For Bernie Robbins, the dog days of summer last only two days. That’s when store owner and president Harvey Rovinsky and his wife Maddy celebrate their dog Jelly Bean’s birthday. This is one of many events the couple and their staff host at their flagship store as part of the annual Chic at the Shore Summer Celebration.
Harvey Rovinsky and his wife Maddy and Ivanka Trump.
Going on its twelfth year, the Summer Celebration is an ambitious schedule of mainly in-store and off-site events that give customers the chance to meet and greet with Bernie Robbins’ top-selling jewelry designers and leading vendors.
With seven stores located in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the Somers Point flagship store becomes the central focus for the summer months. Located along the South Jersey Shore, less than two miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the Somers Point flagship store attracts summer residents from Atlantic City to Ocean City.
Summer Celebration got its start over a decade ago when Rovinsky found that many of the store’s Pennsylvania and New Jersey customers were spending a fair amount of their weekends and summer vacation time in resort towns bordering Somers Point. Rovinsky started his Summer Celebration events as a way to stay in touch with his customers, positioning Bernie Robbins to be top-of-mind in late fall and early winter when shoppers are at their jewelry-buying peak.
A series of trunk shows highlighting the store’s more successful designers starts just before Independence Day weekend and ends the weekend before Labor Day. Each July and August roughly nine in-store events are scheduled with off-site private parties held for the store’s top clientele.
The list of Summer Celebration 2010 trunk shows included: Heather Moore; Roberto Coin and Brumani; Chanel (watches); Ippolita; Penny Preville; A. Link, Gurhan; Ivanka Trump and Raymond Hak Couture. “These vendors have a strong following in our market,” says Rovinsky. “It’s not often our customers have a chance to not only meet the designer but to also see specialty pieces and complete lines of jewelry we don’t normally carry.”
But for the store’s top customers there are also off-site events. Private dinner parties for Bernie Robbins’ give leading clientele added access to jewelry design rock stars such as Ippolita, Gurhan, A. Link Diamonds and most notably, Ivanka Trump. “We invite about 40 to 50 people who are the top collectors of these designers to a private dinner,” says Rovinsky. “While the in-store events are all about creating top-of-mind awareness, the evening dinner parties are very much sales events where we bring in a lot of product.”
Dogs and their owners celebrate Jelly Bean’s birthday.
The area’s preeminent socialites are also invited to these events. Some even host these dinner parties at their homes. “This summer a wealthy local socialite allowed us to host a designer dinner party at her home,” says Rebecca Hasson, the store’s marketing coordinator. “It was a very glamorous event that was well attended.”
Chic at the Shore events also try to tap in to the tourists attracted to this Southern New Jersey destination. Although several designers such as Gurhan, Preville and others have made repeat visits to the store’s summer events, Hasson’s job is to put new spins on each trunk show to generate interest in diehard followers and newbies alike.
“There’s enough variety in the event schedule to keep things interesting,” says Hasson. “Each summer we tie in an event theme with food provided by a local cross-promotional partner. And, with these events starting on Friday night and going all day Saturday, our trunk shows have become part of the area’s social schedule.”
Event hostess Jen Utley, Harvey Rovinsky, and designer Ippolita.
Location also benefits Bernie Robbins’ Somers Point store. Motorists looking to travel through Somers Point have to exit the interstate on Parkway Avenue, which takes travelers by store’s front doors. “We’re located on a commercial road in the middle of town,” says Hasson. “With plenty of free parking and a 3,000-square-foot showroom, this store is an ideal gathering place for social events.”
When addressing the tourist shoppers Rovinsky likes to quote Las Vegas hotel mogul Steve Wynn: “Shopping is part of the entertainment.”
Rovinsky realizes that Somers Point is competing hard with other destinations in the region such as Atlantic City and the Hamptons. That’s why adding more entertainment to the Summer Celebration events has been key this year.
This year attendance for Bernie Robbins’ events was up compared to last year. Hasson attributes the uptick in interest to TV ads that were factored in to the promotional mix for the first time. And, another promotional first was a more aggressive use of Facebook to post images, photo albums and timely updates as events unfolded.
Philadelphia Style Magazine publisher John Colabelli with Maddy Rovinksy at an A. Link party.
Some highlights to this summer’s events included trunk shows for exclusive Italian designer Ippolita and Ivanka Trump. Daytime in-store trunk shows and evening parties were memorable events for avid collectors of these well-known designers. But the success of the store’s summer events wasn’t just pulling in big names and partnering with the area’s top restaurants and hotels.
“Given the economy, we’ve had to be very thoughtful in our approach to provide the right mix of inventory,” says Rovinsky. “In order to enhance the shopping experience, we need to have the right inventory choices at the right time.”
For this summer’s events, this was not only about new designs and styles that speak to latest trends, but also the right price points. “In the past, we found that Summer Celebration price points for customers ranged from $5,000 to $20,000,” says Rovinsky. “This summer we’re offering price points from $2,000 to $10,000 to be more in line with ticket sales averages.”
The preparation, hard work and inventory insights paid off. “The right mix of designer appearances bringing in jewelry at attractive price points, were complemented by off-site private events with charity tie-ins, cross-promotional partnerships and enter-to-win items, which really helped boost interest in the Summer Celebrations while branding the store name here and in other Bernie Robbins’ markets,” says Hasson.