Professional Jeweler Archive: Have a Seat!

October 2000


Have a Seat!

Customers choose stores that make them comfortable and give them a positive feeling

Few things are as hard for tired shoppers to resist as an invitation to “come in and sit down.” And more jewelers – as well as more retailers in general – like the positive effect this sort of welcome has on their image.

“There’s a general trend toward providing seating,” says Keith Kovar, executive vice president of GRID/3 International, a jewelry industry architectural design company in New York City. “But it’s especially strong in the jewelry industry.”

In part, he says, it results from a move toward larger stores that reversed the decade-ago tendency to downsize. Then, many jewelry stores in regional malls had 700-900 square feet. Now, says Kovar, new stores often range from 1,200-1,500 square feet. And freestanding jewelry stores have grown from 2,000-3,000 to 4,000-6,000 square feet. Plus, these larger stores are more likely to be shopping destinations, he says.

At the upper end of the growth trend are jewelers such as Levinson Jewelers, Plantation, FL, which recently added 2,000 square feet to a strip mall store that was previously 4,000 square feet. In the process, the store added a 200-sq.-ft. seating area. “We call it the living room,” says President Robin Levinson. “There’s a coffee table surrounded by four low, comfortable chairs.” All of this sits on an area rug in front of a large armoire that displays high-end pocketbooks and picture frames. There’s also a full-length mirror.

The store also provides 26 upholstered bar-stool-type chairs along the display cases. According to Levinson, chairs encourage customers to linger. “If you’re buying a diamond bracelet for $5,000 or $10,000, you need an explanation of that item,” she says. “That means you should be at ease, so I also offer coffee, soft drinks or water.”

Which brings up the other force driving this trend: service. Customers have lots of places to buy jewelry, so they choose the ones about which they feel most positive. “Before, the idea was to make customers walk around the store in the hope they’d see something else to buy,” says Kovar. “Now consumers are wiser. It’s much harder to force them to do anything.”

Instead, customers who are uncomfortable simply leave.

– by Mark E. Dixon

To increase customer comfort, Levinson Jewelers placed tall chairs in front of showcases (top) and added a living room (bottom).

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications