Generation Gap

Q: How can I attract the next generation of jewelry customers into my store?—George Fritz, owner, Mills Jewelers, Lockport, N.Y.

A: “For Ylang 23, it all comes back to an exciting mix of jewelry at all price points. The younger customer is driven by exciting jewelry, such as Tahitian and South Sea pearls on leather by Kala. We got the line, put it online, and customers immediately snapped up the best pieces regardless of price. Our customers are driven by what is irresistible, and if it’s irresistible, people will come in and spend. That’s the footprint for all of our designers. We specialize in hip and high-end jewelry. That’s what will drive this generation and the next. It’s not about price.”

Joanne Teichman, co-owner and managing ­director, Ylang 23, Dallas


“We advertise bridal and price-conscious fashion pieces—items that retail for under $500—52 weeks a year in a weekly tabloid newspaper that lists live entertainment and movie reviews and is distributed to local restaurants and clubs. People know to pick up [new copies] every Wednesday.

We also carry some silver, like Elizabeth Showers and Gurhan’s new silver line, as well as KC Designs [14k gold]. Monica Rich Kosann’s locket jewelry has been another good one for us. And once I put a blog on my website, I’ve tripled the amount of hits per week.”

Valerie Naifeh, owner, Valerie Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Oklahoma City

“My sons—Joe, 29, Ryan, 26, and Justin, 21—are bringing in the next generation of jewelry buyers through Facebook, e-mail, direct mail post cards, and Twittering. In fact, our April business was up 60 percent over last April thanks to these efforts. The children today are so adept at using the latest technology, and my sons have expanded upon our traditional advertising to include ads over cyberspace. That’s how you drive new business; it’s with the new generation. All of my sons are in the business and work in our two stores.”

Kirk Masters, president, Kirk Masters & Sons, Utica and Richmond, Mich.

“We’re trying to connect with younger age groups through Facebook. Of our 17 stores, so far nine have individual accounts. This year, we’re pushing for all stores to get on board with the social media website. Building on the number of fans and posting quick responses to postings is working for now, but we’d like to create more interest by adding content from store events. Our Valentine’s Day Massacre is one such event that is popular with young brides-to-be. [The massacre in question is a giant cake with a ring hidden inside.] The video, with the help of our radio partner for the event, 97.1 ZHT, has had more than 1,200 unique views on YouTube.”

Nate Morgan, owner, Morgan Jewelers, Salt Lake City

“We were in a traditional jewelry store located in an upscale shopping area for many years. When our lease was up, we decided to ditch our old identity, move to a new location, and create a new jewelry store environment with an exciting vibe that would appeal to younger customers. The new store, which opened in October 2009, has an edgy, rock ’n’ roll persona to it with electric guitars and autographed album covers hung on the walls. The store has a digital photo booth, Rock Band, video game play stations, and no suits and ties. Everything about the store’s new identity ties into this theme, from a revamped website, heavy emphasis in social media marketing, the jewelry we carry, and most important…how we deal with our customers in terms of having fun with the shopping experience.”  

Michael Nedler and Mark Allen, co-owners, Sonny’s Rocks, Denver

“In early May, we held a ‘Very Charming Happy Hour.’ Traditionally we send out invitations by mail  to our regular customers. But for this event, Facebook fans and Twitter followers who are potential customers were invited electronically to come in and try on jewelry. The invitations were created on and distributed via Twitter, Facebook, and word-of-mouth. The location-based service we chose to use is Users can create a “story” of their visit to a location, including photos and notes in real time. There was a lot more buzz from the event on Twitter. Through the online invite process and the in-store event, we were able to gather customer data and generate excitement.”

Veronica Wei Sopher, executive assistant, Ben Bridge Jeweler, Seattle