Columnists Mia Katrin After a long Winter, Spring!

After a long Winter, Spring!

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What a year. It’s a stretch to remember day-to-day business before the economic meltdown of fall 2008. A new shifting landscape is emerging - economic, social, business. Change is in the air.

Change breeds opportunity. The successful will be the most alert, quick to adapt and take advantage of new prospects. Business as usual is not an option.

Some key trends and how to take advantage of them:

• Major Players Dropping Out - Stalwart institutions declaring bankruptcy include iconic brands such as Fortunoff and Whitehall. Behemoth chains with long standing reputations have folded. But look at the bright side. In this shifting environment, large size may hinder. Smaller retail jewelers have greater flexibility to re-strategize. Smaller is more nimble.

• Bread and Butter - Many retailers have kept afloat on mainstay bridal, repairs and buying gold. Returning to basics is a smart stop-gap measure, but is not a formula for growth. Build on this foundation. Now is the time to introduce fresh new lines and looks. Even in fluid financial times, shoppers seek what’s new, exciting, stimulating. Whet their appetite. Create the demand.

• Silver - the New Gold? - Hitting $1200 an ounce, gold has increased in perceived value, making it even more tantalizing to consumers. Smart designers mix gold accents with textured silver to create bold, high-end looks with appealing price points. Beautiful new pieces highlighting gems with less precious metal work create a fresh new look that will attract.

• Jewelry Television - Flip through your cable offerings and you’ll see close to a dozen channels offering jewelry, gems, gold, watches and coins. A 24/7 revolving menu displays everything from bargain basement closeouts to couture pieces and one-of-a-kind world-class gems. Instead of dismissing the “competition,” tune in and take note. Your customers may also be watching - and buying. Focus on emerging trends. Where’s the buzz? Listen to call-in shows. Jewelry lovers reveal what’s moving them.

Your retail store has much more to offer than jewelry television.  Jewelry is tactile, visual. You have real pieces to try on. Seeing camera images can’t compare with caressing a necklace, donning it, experiencing the pleasure and response of others. Cultivate your clients with exceptional personal service that large TV stations can’t compete with. Call or e-mail customers for birthdays or when you introduce exciting new lines. Suggest pieces they may like. Ask them to come in and take a look.

• Be Proactive - In this climate, you have to do more for results. Old rules don’t apply. Sitting on stale inventory and waiting for walk-ins is not a smart strategy.

Branch out, explore different niches. Develop a new angle or forte not fully represented in your area. Try new trends - exchangeable charm bracelets, gold mixed with silver and gems. As your clients’ desires adjust, respond.

Try targeting newly emerging clientele: younger clients, grandparents buying for their grandchildren. Social roles are evolving. Women are major jewelry buyers for themselves and even for men as the new “man-gagement,” men’s engagement ring, trend reveals.

• Promote. Promote. Promote. Be smart about publicity. Just buying ads may not be necessary or most effective.

Have an up-to-date website. Today’s tech savvy client who Googles your store and doesn’t find a functional website sees a red flag. It shows you’re behind the times. You don’t have to have an over-the-top site with bells and whistles. A few basic pages with pictures of some of your best selling offerings, store and contact information gets the message across. Send out e-mail newsletters featuring pictures of tantalizing new lines.

Create a news event by hosting a charity party or trunk show with visiting designers. Leverage the event by sending out press releases, doing radio, TV, newspaper and magazine interviews.

Be special. Be the place where people want to go. Re-brand. Evolve. It’s the nature of life. Change is natural. Spring is on the horizon.

Mia Katrin is an award-winning, internationally celebrated couture jewelry designer specializing in high-end necklaces with precious gems in 18-22 karat gold as well as the new affordably priced Jewel Casual Collection. Her Collections, which have been worn by A-List Hollywood celebrities, are featured in many top galleries and stores throughout the country, where she regularly hosts Trunk Shows. Contact Mia via her website, http://jeweljewel.com, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 1- 877 JEWEL-MY (539-3569).
 
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