Professional Jeweler Archive: Tips for Trunks

August 2000

Gemstones & Pearls/News

Tips for Trunks

Here are 10 ideas that will help with a successful show by a visiting gem dealer

Gem trunk shows allow you to offer customers a big selection of loose gems in the context of a fun and educational event. By working with gem wholesalers who are passionate about color, you can help to build a collector mentality among customers and promote yourself as the primary gem source in your community. Gem-savvy dealers and jewelers offer the following tips on how you can get the most from a gem trunk show.

1. Be committed to color. “You can’t just have a gem show and expect to be successful if you have no inventory to back it up,” says Simon Watt of Mayer & Watt, a dealer in Maysville, KY.

2. Choose wholesalers with whom you have a relationship. “There’s a lot of work, time and expense involved for a gem dealer, so it makes sense to work with someone you do a lot of business with,” says Watt. You should choose a dealer who is passionate about color and is able to explain it in a consumer-friendly way, such as Watt and Cynthia Marcusson of Cynthia Renée & Co., Fallbrook, CA. “Cynthia exudes enthusiasm for color,” says Tim Moses of Moses Jewelers, a retailer in Butler, PA. “She’s a lot of fun and very informative.”

3. Consider your vendor your partner. “The two of you must work together to make the event a success,” says Marcusson. “I provide my retailers with co-op advertising [including handouts and postcards], press kits, a promotional checklist and timeline, telephone solicitation text, decorating tips and in-store music. I also work with the salespeople to empower them to sell my product. But the jeweler and his staff need to make my material work for them.” For one of Marcusson’s events, Kathy Dickinson of Dickinson Jewelers, a retailer in Dunkirk, MD, copied some of Marcusson’s gem articles and rolled them up with an invitation in a tube filled with confetti for special customers. “Our customers loved it because it was different and informative.”

4. Allow adequate time to plan the event. “Schedule the event at least six months in advance,” says Moses. “Start to promote it a month prior by talking about it over the counter and in telephone solicitations. That’s more effective and less expensive than blanket advertising.” Many jewelers call or send direct-mail promotions to customers who attend in-store events or are passionate for color. Watt also suggests trying to reach a cross-section of customers rather than just the “A” list.

5. Consider the expenses. Determine how much you’ll spend on minimum merchandise purchases, advertising, extra staff, additional insurance, food and decorations. “We also raffled a custom gemstone ring as a door prize and served ‘carat’ cake with gemstones hidden inside,” says Anna Strome, manager of Beauchamp & Co., a retailer in Albuquerque, NM.

6. Seminars and lectures are an added value. Strome rented hotel space for two nights of seminars. “Fifty people attended each night in an informal, intimate space that encouraged lively, interactive discussions,” she says. Dickinson and Moses also boast success with lectures Marcusson conducts during evening VIP parties. “We had about 35 people in the store until midnight when Cynthia was here last,” says Dickinson. “It was that much fun!”

7. Have semimounts, finished jewelry and a goldsmith on hand to help people visualize the possibilities. “When you have a loose gem show, you’re selling a project, so you need to be proactive,” says Marcusson.

8. Don’t call it a gem show. Give your event a name or theme. Marcusson calls her events Gem Safaris; Beauchamp dubbed its recent event Gem Fair 2000.

9. Conduct no more than one gem show yearly. This will keep it special. Usually a two-day event is the ticket.

10. Don’t expect to make a lot of money the first time around. “It’s a building thing,” says Watt. But many jewelers who host gem trunk shows say the return on their investment is twofold to threefold, plus residual sales.

– by Deborah Yonick

Offering door prizes helps to keep guests excited at a recent gem trunk show at Beauchamp & Co., Albuquergue, NM.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications