Professional Jeweler Archive: Jewelers Add Extra Time

August 2002

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Jewelers Add Extra Time

Wilson & Son and Carl Greve draw new customers with separate watch boutiques


By the fourth generation, a retailer might be content just to not rock the boat. Old habits and tactics work well, so why tinker with success? Two successful fourth-generation jewelry retailers recently took a new step anyway. Each store altered its very foundations, adding separate watch departments and changing the physical layout of their showcases and sales floors.

Makes Sense

For Matt and Mike Wilson, co-owners of Wilson & Son Jewelers in Scarsdale, NY, the addition of an 850-sq.-ft. “watch salon” next door to the jewelry store made sense in many ways. “Our grandfather and great-grandfather were watchmakers,” says Matt Wilson. Their company was founded in 1905 in Manhattan. “We’ve always had fine watches but haven’t had the chance to give them the high visibility we thought they needed.”

The new department offers the Wilsons a chance to place their premium brands directly in front of customers with a prominence equal to that of their jewelry. The addition doubled total store space, allowing not only more timepieces, but also more room for jewelry displays, a gift area and a bridal center.

Grand Opening

The Wilsons introduced the changes during a weekend event in December that also served as a fund-raiser for the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York Widows’ and Children’s Fund.

About 500 guests enjoyed looking at new and existing brands, including Bedat & Co., Rolex, Raymond Weil, Baume & Mercier and Ebel. They also sampled wine from a permanent built-in wine bar and espresso and cappuccino from the coffee bar. These amenities are par for the course for Wilson & Son.

In the upscale hamlet of Scarsdale, in wealthy Westchester County less than an hour from New York City, there are no less than five retail jewelers within a mile. “All the stores here are different, and we really compete not against them but against a global marketplace,” says Matt Wilson. “Our customers travel frequently and have opportunity to buy anywhere, but we offer full service that is appreciated with loyalty.”

Pacific Coast Time

On the West Coast, meanwhile, Tim Greve was on a tight construction schedule at about the same time as the Wilsons in Scarsdale. Greve, co-owner of Carl Greve, an 80-year-old fine jewelry destination in downtown Portland, OR, was putting the finishing touches on his store’s new Watch Boutique for a Nov. 27 opening.

The new boutique encompasses most of the former gift department on the second floor of his two-story location. “We wanted to create a destination on this floor,” says Greve. “After 17 years, the demand for traditional gifts has dropped as more casual bridal registrations have become common.”

Greve divided the second floor into a 3,000-sq.-ft. timepiece selling space and a 2,000-sq.-ft. private-event room. This room is rented or used for gatherings such as fashion shows and private parties. Remaining space on the floor is used for offices.

The selling space includes store-within-a-store displays for many of the major timepiece brands he sells, plus larger boutiques for three of the brands.

Keeping Customers Happy

The company prides itself on customer service and comfort. The new second floor watch boutique is no exception. “The wet bar is the first thing you come to when you enter the floor,” says Greve. “Often a customer will sit and have coffee or a cocktail at the bar while his or her significant other is shopping for a timepiece.”

That customer has an impressive choice of high-end brands, including Cartier, Breitling (Greve has the region’s only full Breitling boutique), Corum, Montblanc, Rolex, Cyma, Bertolucci, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Patek Philippe.

New Customers, New Sales

With the new boutique, Greve expects to increase watch sales from 25% of total sales in 2001 to about 33% in 2002. Already the results show promise. In December, watch sales jumped 25%.

And there’s an an added bonus: a new type of client. “Our watches always did well, but now that we have a clear destination with serious watches, we’re selling to watch collectors and connoisseurs,” he says. These were not customers his store attracted regularly in the past. A watchmaker on the premises is the next step to retaining watch enthusiasts.

These timepiece afficionados, new to his store, also have the chance to see and buy some fine jewelry. “They walk through the jewelry area to reach the watches on the second floor,” Greve says.

With jewelry sales also up overall, it seems Greve’s strategic floor plan has worked.

Other Image Elements

  • Duratrans lightboxes are used around the perimeter to convey strong brand images.
  • On the jewelry floor, vitrine showcases cross-promote watches available on the second floor.
  • Elevator decorations now reflect the watch boutique.
  • In addition to the bar, a circular seating area with a table features watch and luxury-goods periodicals that customers may read while waiting for a minor repair. As a bonus, the seating area provides a more relaxed and less “threatening” environment than a sales counter to show and sell products.

– by Michael Thompson

The new watch salon at Wilson & Son Jewelers adds 850 square feet to the store and places watches directly in front of customers as they enter.
Across the Watch Boutique at Greve, the brands get unique showcase personalities that nonetheless blend with the decor. Greve’s full-time display artist, Dorie Dumm, and Lynne Greve worked with watch company representatives to create each display and the room’s final look.
The new Watch Boutique at Carl Greve features a Montblanc display plus the two-story mobile done by a local artist. The windows are covered with wooden mesh to create dramatic “pinpoints of light.”

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications