Five Merchandising Tips

“If it’s not special, it’s not here,” is the mantra of The Tiny Jewel Box in Washington, D.C. CEO Jim Rosenheim, G.G., scours the world looking for special products. Here, he offers five ideas to make your merchandising special.

  • Hire international agents to scout new products. Agents shop little-known stores and craft shows for buyers across a variety of industries, and often they can access people when a retailer can’t. For example, an agent introduced Rosenheim to Marie-Helene de Taillac, a French jewelry designer whose work is carried by Barney’s, after the jeweler had exhausted all other avenues for contacting her. Recently, Rosenheim had a two-page list of largely unknown designers of leather goods and other products, compliments of his European scout.

  • Attend international jewelry and gift shows. Carrying products from abroad differentiates your store and helps establish it as a merchandise authority in your market. “If you go to the same U.S. shows as everybody else, then you’ll frequently end up with the same merchandise as everybody else,” notes Rosenheim.

  • Discover new talent before anyone else does. “I bought bags from Lulu Guinness when she was still selling out of her house,” says Rosenheim. “I’ve also met designers whom I thought could be pretty successful given another three or four years in the market.” Paul Morrelli is one example of a designer who showed promise early on and later blossomed into a “genius,” according to Rosenheim. His favorite find: jewelry designer Alex Sepkus, whom he met more than 10 years ago at a New York trade show.

  • Understand that jewelry is a fashion business. Fine-jewelry inventory must be refreshed seasonally. “Once I realized that jewelry was a part of fashion, an understanding of fashion helped me grow my business,” says Rosenheim. Twenty-five years ago the jeweler began reading fashion magazines and paying attention to new designers as well as to lifestyle and color trends. “What’s happening in fashion reflects people’s jewelry purchases,” he notes.

  • Add nontraditional items. Rosenheim recently added bedding to The Tiny Jewel Box’s gift department. The sheets were designed by friend and Black Entertainment Network co-founder Sheila Johnson and will outfit the beds at the Salamander Inn (slated to open in September 2004) in Loudoun County, Va. Why sheets? Says Rosenheim, “I sell beautiful products if I think they will interest my clients.”