No matter how divine the diamonds or how radiant the rubies, “people don’t necessarily come to store events because they are interested in jewelry,” says Dan Schuyler, owner of Lily & Co. in Sanibel, Fla. “They come for what’s going on, for the experience.”
Of course, creating experiences that lure customers to in-store events is, for many jewelers, one of the biggest challenges of doing business. But high attendance at trunk shows and other events is advantageous for several reasons. Partygoers, once inside a retail space, can turn into impulse buyers. And throwing a memorable, packed party boosts brand recognition and a store’s community reputation.
Schuyler, who hosts a weekly cocktail reception at his store with live music, promotes his parties through Facebook, but also relies on snail-mailed invites imprinted with a one-night-only discount, which guests hand over when making a purchase. That way, “we’re able to track if the advertisements are working,” says Schuyler, who partners with local nonprofits to draw more attendees.
The veteran retailer also takes out full-page ads for events in both local newspapers for the day of the happening and does follow-up calls with loyal clients. “I believe in the drip-drip theory,” he says. “You just keep putting it out there…so wherever you turn, you see the event. Not everybody reads the newspaper. Some listen to the radio, some look at billboards, some check Facebook. You think you’re going to send one thing out and see results? No. You have to hit every angle nowadays.”
Tracy Lewis, manager of Glennpeter Jewelers Diamond Centre in Albany, N.Y., also mines charitable tie-ins to get party guests through the door. “Our customers get very involved in the many charity events we host—everything from Big Brothers Big Sisters to animal rescues,” she says. Soirees with playful themes also tend to result in high attendance. The store’s Halfway to Valentine’s Day party, featuring more than 30 couples renewing their wedding vows inside the store, was especially well-attended.
Both Schuyler and Lewis consider serving good food key to being a good host. Glennpeter typically treats partygoers to cocktails, sushi, and desserts.
Kathy Rose, owner of the influential Roseark jewelry boutiques in Los Angeles, relies on Facebook and Pinterest to get the word out on events, and believes that cultivating a very specific clientele (in her case, fashion-savvy urbanites) yields robust attendance. “We work with designers on exclusives only for Roseark,” says Rose. Accordingly, Rose’s customers favor “events featuring new artists and collections.”
Personal appearances also play well at TWO by London in Manhasset, N.Y., where “meet-the-designer events often attract large crowds,” says Randi Udell, vice president of the store’s parent company, London Jewelers.
And retailers can’t go wrong by infusing enthusiasm into every facet of the event-planning process. “We try to create fun and give back,” says Schuyler. “Events are only as good as the energy you put into them.”