West Virginia’s Buttermore Jewelers Finds a Niche on Facebook

Buttermore Jewelers, based out of Parkersburg, W. Va., doesn’t have a good Facebook page; it has a great Facebook page.

Owner Richard Buttermore graciously took time to answer some of my questions about his store’s history and social media strategy.

JCK: Tell me a little about the company’s history.

Richard Buttermore: My grandfather, R.D. Buttermore Sr. opened his own store in 1929, 84 years ago, in downtown Parkersburg, W. Va. He was a watchmaker, a hand engraver, and a conservative businessman. He retired in 1956 and sold the store to my father, R.D. Buttermore Jr., who had worked in the store from the time he was in junior high school. He started doing janitorial work and learned how to do watch repairs and goldsmith work from his father. He went to war in 1942 and spent three years serving on the aircraft carrier Hornet in the Pacific Theater.

I was his oldest son and I learned the business the same way that my father did. I married my high school sweetheart and we became parents of our oldest son. I was the only member of my MBA class of 150 at University of Virginia to go into retail and after 37 years full time in the store I now know why.

I purchased the store from my father in 1990. My parents retried the same year. In 1997, we closed our store in down town Parkersburg and moved our business to a strip center, 500 yards from the Grand Central Mall. More than 50,000 cars a day use the highway in front of our store. Our store has a stoplight to allow our customers to enter our large parking lot safely.

The recession years have been difficult, but we took advantage of lower price points with Pandora and then Trollbeads. We have since added several similar lines. We also purchase a large amount of scrap gold. It is never going to be easy, but my wife, Cathy, and I have worked together for 20 years in our business and hope to continue for several more years.

JCK: What made you get into social media, marketing, and sales?

RB: I have been in charge of marketing since 1976, but it wasn’t until we hired Lindsey Smith, a younger employee who knew a lot about social media—particularly Facebook—that we began to take advantage of social media. It has now become a very important way to reach our customers.

JCK: How important is social media in your company’s business plan?

RB: We use it to introduce new products, advertise sales, and local community functions.

We have been in the top 10 percent of Trollbead dealers for several years; our social media presence has had a lot to do with that. When we receive new products, Lindsey will quickly photograph them and post them to our Facebook page. Within two hours our Trollbeads customers start rolling into our store to purchase them.

Recently, I took in an engagement ring with an irritated blue diamond center stone. I evaluated it and had Lindsey post it to Facebook at about 6 p.m. By 8 p.m., we were holding it for a customer and sold it the next afternoon with two people on the waiting list. We have sold quite a few items this way and try to post anything different or unusual that will set our store apart.

JCK: How involved are you with the community?

RB: We participate in a lot of charity events and we love to support our local Humane Society. Our store is full of animal lovers. At our last Humane Society fundraiser we even adopted a wonderful dog named Allie. She comes to work with us every day and greets our customers. All the women pet her and the men and children love to throw her ball and play catch. Our customers will bring her treats and toys from time to time. Allie even has her own Facebook fan page that we update with pictures of her playing with customers. She even models jewelry for us from time to time.

JCK: What are some of the key things you think are important to running a successful social media presence?

RB: The most important thing about maintaining a presence on social media is to be consistent. It is very important to post updates daily if not twice a day. It is important to be present and to respond to comments in a timely manner. We have found that an engaging post with good quality pictures is the most effective. Shortly after we began posting on Facebook, we invested in a good editing program so that Lindsey could edit pictures and create advertisements for us. A quality detailed picture with an interactive question will get a lot more attention than just a post with no picture. The goal is to get your customers to interact with your posts because when they interact their friends see it, and the post’s exposure will snowball to a greater range of potential customers. Our goal is to appeal to a wide variety of customers in all walks of life. We often get comments from wives and girlfriends to make sure and let their significant others know that they like something we post. We have also had husbands and boyfriends come in and pull out their phone to show us a picture of something their girlfriend or wife liked that we posted. So the advertising is pretty effective.

JCK: What are some of the fun and innovative things you have done for you company on social media since you started?

RB: We primarily use Facebook and our website for our online presence.

We have several types of posts that we consistently use. For example, at the beginning of every month we put up a good picture of the birthstone for the month along with information about that stone, where it is primarily mined, and how it is best worn and used as a piece of jewelry. We also try to post one high-end item per day and one affordable item usually under $100. We recently started featuring a bridal setting once or twice a week along general diamond information that would be important to someone considering a engagement ring purchase.

When we were building our fan base, we hosted several different types of contests to gain more followers. One of our more successful events was our Dream Bracelet Contest. We invited our customers to come in to the store and create their dream Trollbead bracelet. We then took a photo and complied a group of 91 different bracelet photos from customers. We had an impartial group of outside judges vote for the top 10. The top 10 were displayed in our store with voting boxes. Customers sent their family and friends in to deposit change and donations into their voting box. The money we made went to the Humane Society and the top three received gift certificates for our store.  The contest was a great success. We saw a huge increase in our page likes, raised money for the local humane society and many customers came in and requested to have bracelets made like the ones they say on Facebook.

JCK: What do you think are the best ways the jewelry industry can market and sell jewelry to younger consumers? Do you think social media—and online in general—will ever catch on in the jewelry industry?

RB: The best way to market to the younger generation is to stay involved and to post things that lend to the current trends. We are already reaching out to the younger market by posting fun interactive questions along with products that fit our local market. We carry several jewelry lines in our store that are fun and trendy as well as affordable for a younger person on a small budget. We have found that when these younger customers come into our store for these inexpensive fun pieces they create a good rapport with our staff, and they will come back and see us first when they are ready to start making larger purchases like engagement rings.

JCK: What is your favorite part of being in the jewelry industry?

RB: I love that no two days are the same. We serve a diverse population in all walks of life. I might design a remount for a longtime customer, then sell an engagement ring to a young new customer, and next make offers on valuable estate pieces to sell on consignment. Working with a wide variety of customers on new sales, designing pieces, and diamond setting keep me constantly engaged.

For more insights on how you can make social media work for your business, check out: