Bridal buyers can romp around this Bloomington, Ill., retailer’s wedding ring playground
1. What’s the best idea you’ve come up with for your store?
Our wedding ring playground. When we remodeled in spring 2011, one of the things we added was bridal sample lines from various vendors. As samples trickled in, we realized $15 sample rings were taking up valuable case space, so I decided to make it much more accessible. I had my cabinet maker build an 8-foot, bar-height table with a felt racetrack around the edges. All of our samples are displayed in the center. We’ve found it to be a tremendous icebreaker. The feedback we get most often is how comfortable this makes the experience. It’s low on pressure, high on information, and they leave with the confidence that they have seen just about every option available.
2. When you walk in your front door, what do you like most about your store?
When I became the owner in March, I had the chance to change the store to the way I had wanted it for so many years. (I started working here in high school.) I even changed an 84-year-old logo. But of all the renovations, changing from metal halide lighting to LED was my best decision. It was expensive, but the systems have already paid for themselves by halving energy consumption. The utility company even gave me a commercial energy-savings check for meeting their energy conservation standards. The LED in-case lights make the old cases look much better. And visibility from the street of the store’s interior is much improved.
3. How do you differentiate your store from the competition?
We use this store as a springboard to promote many causes in our market. Sometimes this includes sales-related events, and other times not, such as a Chamber of Commerce breakfast. A Chamilia give-back bead event to raise money for CASA [Court Appointed Special Advocate Association] resulted in our largest single day of beads sales. Buying jewelry may or may not be the main objective for these events, but people associate your business with supporting the community, and the sales we can eventually link to these events are too numerous to tell.
4. What one advertisement elicited the most response, and why?
Honeymoon giveaways for bridal customers. It may sound expensive, but when you buy 30 cruise packages at a time, you get about a 70 to 80 percent price break. Couples go crazy for these trips. They take tons of pictures and come in to share them. Jack Lewis Jewelers was with them on that trip, and we’re with them every time they tell the story about their honeymoon.
5. What’s your most memorable sale?
Last Christmas, a man was shopping for his wife, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I showed him trays of items, but nothing really registered. He mentioned he wished his three daughters were in town to help him. That’s when we went into action. We got the daughters here. Then we asked the husband to return with his wife to see some additional pieces. When the couple arrived, their daughters were waiting. We kept the store open just for this family and had five staffers to assist their every need. It was obvious this family was very close, and that purchasing these gifts was going to be part of their last Christmas together.