Intangible Resolutions

How many times have you approached a new year with a list of resolutions, determined that this year you will finally make them stick? This will be the year you learn to like fruit instead of chocolate cake (yeah, right!) or you will get your correspondence, taxes, business plan, etc. finished before it’s due, or you will get personally involved in good works instead of just sending a check.

Whatever your list, one resolution you should make is to love what you do. There’s a saying in this industry that once jewelry gets into your blood, you never get it out.

Have you ever walked into a store-any store, not necessarily a jewelry store-and found a million things you never knew you needed? Is there a particular store where you always, inevitably, buy far more than the item you originally went to find? By contrast, have you ever walked into a store, only to take a quick look around and decide there’s nothing there you need to own?

If you’re at all into shopping-and I personally believe that if you’re going to be a successful retailer, you’d darned well better enjoy shopping-then you can probably identify a few of both kinds of stores. And, if you’re going to be a successful retailer, you want your own store to be like the former, not like the latter.

What does it take to make a magical store? For sure, it’s the product you offer, the way the product is presented, and the attitude of the people who work there. But beyond these fundamentals, even two stores that are equally well-stocked, that have equally competent salespeople, and are equally well-decorated can have two entirely different atmospheres. One may be tempting and tantalizing, and the other may leave you cold.

This atmosphere, then, is the intangible element all retailers try to capture. Call it magic, chemistry, mystique, seduction, or whatever you will, but it’s virtually impossible to define. Certain aspects of it can be intellectualized, such as creating cohesive displays, arranging showcases to subtly direct traffic flow, making sure the store is meticulously clean, and using a variety of lighting to enhance the environment. But there’s still something that lies beyond the intellectual, and that’s the passion, the love for your craft that translates itself to the customer without a word being spoken or a piece of jewelry being shown. It creates electricity in the air, a rush of “warm fuzzy” or “wow” that a customer instinctively feels upon entering your store. If you don’t have that innate love for this business, eventually your customers will sense that-and your store could become one where they find nothing they’re inspired to own.

If you have the passion but want some extra inspiration every now and then, visit stores that inspire you to buy, and try to determine what it is that makes them so appealing. Chances are, no matter what kind of store it is, there will be common elements. If you’re heading off to the winter shows and need something to read on the plane, two inspiring books I recommend are Minding the Store, by Stanley Marcus, and Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, by sociologist Paco Underhill. (Incidentally, Underhill is slated to be the keynote speaker at JCK’s Orlando Show next month.)

Finally, I’d like to draw your attention to four new columns making their debut in this month’s issue of JCK. “Fashion Makeover,” on page 94, is the brainchild of senior fashion editor Carrie Soucy, who followed a real customer as she selected a new jewelry wardrobe. On page 66, “Grade This”-an innovation of senior gemstone editor Gary Roskin-lets you pit your gemological expertise against that of the gem labs. Senior editor William Shuster introduces “Personal Business” on page 86, a column dedicated to helping jewelers deal with personal matters related to running a successful business, such as quickly getting where you need to go (one of Bill’s specialties). And JCK‘s Web editor, Tony DeMarco, is rounding up a panel of experts for “Tech Tips” (page 78), offering shortcuts and easy how-to’s for using some common computer systems and programs.

These are four of six new columns we have planned for you in 2001. We hope you find them interesting and useful, and if there’s something more you’d like to know, please don’t hesitate to call us. You see, we love what we do, too!