April was our 27th anniversary and my birthday so we did a sale: 27 percent off ONE item and then 10 percent off everything else in one purchase. It worked and saved us. We still did not do a fortune but enough to stay alive for another quarter. But I can't keep that up forever. So we are changing all of the cases to make things fresh and yummy and having perhaps one permanent sale case. Any other ideas? We are advertising like crazy. And we are changing where we advertise. Most of my regulars have been women, 40-65, with money to spend on themselves. But we in that age group are all trying to downsize! So I need a new bunch of women between 40 and 65 to start shopping! Boulder is in a great place economically. We have 0 percent rental availability. Our houses are worth the same if not more than they were 4 years ago. There is actually a shortage of housing here. There is very little unemployment. We are a high-tech town and our biggest problem is where to put the people who want to live here or want to open/move businesses here. So what am I doing wrong? The restaurants are thriving — but most of the small businesses are having a struggle. I know, people need to eat but they don't need antique jewelry. Yesterday we had a 1.5 closing ratio of every person through the door. We were on our feet from the moment we opened until we closed. Then I received four phone calls begging me for the 27 percent off on Tuesday when they could come in. I said yes. Some money is better than no money. But we are still way down for the year. What to do?
Poly member 6392
Here are a few ideas.
- Display your items by price point, i.e. a case (or however you many you have) for items under $500. Then items $500-1,000, $1,000-$3,000, $3,000-$6,000, you get the idea.
- Have visible pricing on your jewelry. Take some cream-colored resume paper and on some double stick tape write the prices of the jewelry on little strips and stick it to the display item. Start with six visible prices in each case, then go back and add six more. The customer needs to know whether they can afford something or not!
- A diamond upgrade event. Trade in grandma’s ring for another!
Poly member 88482
I don’t usually do this, but I’d like to offer some advice for your business. In the years I’ve been on Polygon this is one of several “We might have to close” posts I've seen. It's a sign that your business model may have to change. You mentioned that you had a 27 percent off sale and it brought in a significant amount of business. That’s a sign that your prices are 30 percent too high. I don't know if you’ve ever had any formal training in price theory, but it’s a wonderful means of predicting how best to price to market. If you chart through your previous sales and the resulting revenue bump (over the average) you’ll be able to see what margins will get you what sales levels.
“I need a NEW bunch of women between 40 and 65 to start shopping.”
That demographic is gone forever. The 40-65 year olds now are worried about retirement and the future economy. I would realign you to sell jewelry to younger people. 25-35 year olds are where all the retail volume money is now. Especially in a high-tech town. A 30-year-old tech buddy of mine just cashed in his first million of stock. He paid cash for a Porsche. His fresh college grad assistant was hired at a $200K starting salary. The tech kids have money to spend and they’re spending it since they don’t realize that the money might stop flowing someday.
My advice to you:
- Lower your prices by 30-50 percent
- Reposition yourself to sell to younger people
- Stop all advertising for two months — It isn't bringing in good customers anyway. Make a new ad plan and start over.
- Better qualify your customers. A 20 percent closing ration either means you’re full of window shoppers or your prices are too high.
Poly member 141140
Why not continue to discount; the items you sell have no cost to you. The customer has no idea what is the real value of the item. It seems they are looking for a deal. Your margins, as much as I know are good, so in hard times work with a little lower margin and, yes, discount if this is what will keep you around.
Poly member 3510
Thanks all. I really appreciate all the ideas. Now, we have lowered all of our price points. I capped individual item prices at 20K. If it’s worth more than that I have a source who will either partner it with me or take all of the risk and give me a very generous finder's fee and off to Sotheby’s, Christies, or another auction house. Just by doing that it lowered my Jeweler’s Mutual bill significantly! Plus, and I know this stuff drives you guys crazy, we have really made a point of featuring great vintage costume jewelry. We ask women to “bring in the outfit” since we know our inventory so well, we can almost instantly give her five choices: necklace, earrings, brooch, bracelet and in some cases the tiara! hahahaha. Thank God for my huge costume inventory! This is not $10 cheap crap. The price point is between $50-$200 each. That adds up and for some reason, when someone says “Oh, I can't afford the REAL thing” — they will often spend more on a demi-parure, made up of rhinestones! Who knew? Re. advertising, my husband is the VP art director of an ad agency. Friday night he is going to an event where he has already won four awards for his art, copy, design and impact. People frame our ads! I am a true believer that when you can’t afford it, that is the time to advertise! Where we are advertising is changing. While I have worked with the local paper re. rates (don't tell anybody!), you are right. Young people use their phones for all information. We researched carrying watches, almost everybody under 30 said they don’t wear one — they use their phones! So, for us, no watches. But I digress. Re: displays and price tags. Here’s how we do it. The store is divided into three long sections and one long case at the back of the store. If I had a photo I'd post it but John’s been messing with my computer so I can't find anything. When you walk in the door — we hope you turn right. Facing the door is a U-shaped case — towards the door is history — an incredible collection of Imperial C'hing Dynasty Kingfisher feather hair ornaments mixed with antique coral and pearls. Very eye catching! Stops people in their tracks. We do have info written out about it but people still stop and ask a lot of questions. From that they turn and we start on the right with diamond rings — our No. 1 seller — white gold or platinum vintage filigree rings. No offenses to Hugo - but ours are ALL authentic. Those rings pay the rent. They are priced from $300 - $20K and everything in between. That's the case where the serious shoppers SIT. Color and other diamond jewelry than rings fill the next U. Across the aisle, I have a $12,000 long antique case that is displayed by TIME - it's all about history. Remember – we are an antique jewelry store! We can NOT reorder 'best sellers! The middle has two smaller cases - one is changed monthly - April was Native American. May is fancy schmancy weird pearls AND designer couture pieces. June will be sale case with price tags! The second case is always cameos. One of my two windows is always cameos. We sell 10-20 a month. We are the cameo queens! :) The back case and my Chinese apothocary set of 76 drawers is costume jewelry.
The reason we don't show price tags on everything else is it forces us engage the customers in conversation. Besides, - we are not your “run of the mall” store. We WANT to be different. We LIKE talking to people.
So - thanks for all your responses. I'm not trying to make excuses. This is just an explanation.
Poly member 6392blog comments powered by Disqus