Indiana’s Hoppe Jewelers Makes a Big Splash in a Small Pond

As towns go, Richmond, Ind., is tiny: 17,000 residents. A more complacent retailer than Lyn Hoppe might allow that to limit growth, but at Hoppe Jewelers, sales goals have less to do with the size of the market than the Hoppe family’s drive to succeed. When Lyn joined her parents, Mary and Bob, in the family business in 1978, they had already been at the retail game for more than a quarter-century. However, after working for two major jewelry chains, Lyn was anxious to implement change. Her improvements—to ad campaigns, the way P&L statements were examined, and stock balancing—paid off with steady growth. Soon, the family was hitting major milestones, surpassing $250,000 in sales, then $500,000. The numbers were even enough to inspire the addition of a second store in 2004. To better compete in challenging times, the Hoppes consolidated operations in 2010 into one large store and embraced a slew of new technologies spearheaded by Lyn’s brother Scott. This year, Hoppe Jewelers is poised to break $4 million in sales.

In recent years, what major changes helped you keep up your growth?

About the time the second store opened, we started a flyer program with [vendor supply company] GDM and worked with George Prout. We followed him to Gems One and continued working with him on advertising and the flyer program, which really helped our business. Since many of the flyer items are price-point pieces, it helps to balance the image of being a quality jeweler with affordable prices. Also, we let the lease expire and slowly moved all of the product and staff over to our larger second store. We no longer have doubles on inventory, two teams are now one, our advertising is the best it has ever been, and we continue to evolve the business.

How is the business evolving?

We’re making the store more user-friendly by being more interactive. My brother Scott is responsible for introducing and maintaining most of the technology. Sales associates are using iPads to work with gold-buying customers to get real-time spot prices and streamline take-ins. We’re also doing more gift-with-purchase specials, adding events to our schedule, and doing more community outreach with local charities. And we’re doing more promotions with e-blasts and e-newsletters. Through technology, we’re interacting more with customers in the store and through e-marketing.

Of all the management decisions made in recent years, which one made the most impact?

Spending thresholds for bridal jewelry have changed. By working with certain vendors, we now offer more affordable bridal jewelry ranging from $2,000 to $3,000. We still offer high-end designers like Hearts On Fire, A. Jaffe, Simon G, and ArtCarved, but the goal with our new vendors in the affordable range is to continue to offer quality products that offer a good value.

Is it easier for jewelry store owners in smaller ­markets to earn trust and respect?

Retail jewelers in smaller markets can establish or rebuild trust with customers because, through community outreach, they’re more visible. In smaller towns, local charities have a more immediate and greater impact. Retailers looking to establish or get trust back should do more cause-marketing events and work toward being more socially responsible. If you support the causes or charities younger customers care about, they’ll trust you and want to do business with you.

What cause-marketing events have you added to your schedule?

In August, we had our BRAvo: Busting Out Against Breast Cancer event. As part of that, we raised $1,000 for breast ­cancer awareness and gave away a Pandora bracelet. We also did breast cancer awareness events in October.

What’s the best way to reach customers in your market?

TV, especially cable, is too fragmented for our entire outlying rural market of 150,000 people with 200 ZIP codes. The best way to reach the 30,000 people in our county is with direct mailers to target groups by product listings. It keeps our name in front of customers, and we’re sending them information on products we know they’ve purchased or have shown an interest in. We also make it a point to contact our top customers every month.

How many top customers do you have, and how do you appeal to them monthly?

We have 300. Every month the staff helps reach out to every one of them with a free jewelry cleaning offer, a gift-with-­purchase, or a simple invite to come to the store because we haven’t seen them in a while. Always give them a reason to come in.

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