Merrick, NY—The Centurion reached out over the last few days to find out how the coronavirus was affecting better jewelers across the nation. Following is a snapshot of how different stores are currently reacting to the various levels of quarantine around the country, as well as other retail news of interest to jewelers. (As public policies are changing quickly, it’s likely that a few of these strategies already changed in just a few days.)
Fruchtman Marketing Develops Free Uplifting Video For Clients
Toledo, OH—In an interview with The Centurion two weeks ago, Ellen Fruchtman, president of Fruchtman Marketing, suggested retailers stay the course with their marketing through the coronavirus pandemic. Although much has changed in the national landscape since her interview with The Centurion, she still advises retailers to keep up with their budgeted messaging, albeit now with a slightly different message. That’s why she and her team produced a special video for jewelers to use.
“Over the weekend, we produced free of charge a special video of unity for our clients. We are suggesting our clients pivot their messaging for at least the next 7-10 days and push messages of unity, using their budgeted media spends. While others go dark in terms of their marketing, we suggest our clients forge ahead because when this ends—and it will—they will be better positioned to get back on track.
Click here or on the image below to watch the video, here customized for Lewis Jewelers in Houston, TX. Then read on to see how your colleagues are coping and what policies they have put in place in their stores as this crisis continues.
Cathy Eastham, Cathy Eastham Fine Jewelry, Midland, TX
We are open. This week we decided to switch to limited hours of 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. We are offering curbside service, delivery, and complimentary shipping. We have some clients reaching out via online/texting; definitely not as much foot traffic in the store. We have had a few people in picking up their repairs, but hardly any in-person sales.
We have offered a percentage of all sales to be donated to the local food bank as well as bonus valued gift cards to be used at a later date once people feel safe shopping again.
Bill Nusser, Hands Jewelers, Iowa City, IA
We made the rather obvious--or at least obvious to us--decision to lock the door and operate as an appointment-only store for the time being. We laid off most of our employees so that they could file for and receive unemployment until we had the all-clear to reopen. As a gesture of good faith, we pledged that we would assume the complete premium for their health insurance so they wouldn’t have a lapse in coverage and that they would feel free to seek help if they became sick in any way. It also would help bridge the gap between their regular pay and their unemployment checks. They were incredibly understanding and supportive of this move. Charlie (Bill’s son and company president) even laid me off, which I never thought would ever happen in my life, but thoroughly understood!
Someone is in the store behind the gate to accommodate repair pick-up and appointments made. Our hours for this are truncated: while we are available for most hours we try to limit activity between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. We do a thorough identity check on the appointment-makers if we don’t already know them; our insurance requires it.
So far, Charlie has had mostly engagement ring appointments, which is fantastic in that those willing to make the appointment are very serious, and highly qualified and vetted prospects. So far, we have not had a day in which we have not had a decent amount of revenue--and there have been days so far that have been very good, even for normal times! In fact, our only problem with any of this is the break in the supply chain caused by COVID-19 closures.
We are happy to have made [necessary] moves early on (including making arrangements with our banks and credit card companies to accommodate us, which they all have done without question or delay).
We understood that the only way to be able to be open later was to stop the community spread of COVID-19 now, which needed to happen sooner than later in the short term as well.
It wasn’t pleasant to lay off an entire staff, most of whom have been with us for over 20 years, but it was the right thing to do and we all will survive and hopefully thrive later on, thanks to the many amazing sacrifices made in the present.
Eva-Michelle Spicer, Spicer Greene Jewelers, Asheville, NC
We are currently closed to the public. We are doing daily deals on our website (which has 100% of our inventory live online) and we are communicating with customers mostly via Podium webchat. We are also making ourselves available via Zoom meetings for bridal consultations.
Sean Dunn of JR Dunn, Lighthouse Point, FL, sent this note to customers:
Our Dear Friends,
We always want to be here for you and we will continue to be.
The health and safety of our employees, community, and clients remain our top priority. We have made the decision to operate our showroom by appointment only and online 24/7 at jrdunn.com starting Thursday, March 19th for one week.
Special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries don't stop, even in the toughest of times. If you'd like to schedule an appointment for a private showing, give us a call at 954.782.5000 and we'll work our magic.
Lastly, as a family owned business for over 50 years—we ask that you keep in mind supporting your local businesses and charities during this time of hardship. So let’s come together as a community and support each other in whatever way we can.
Thank you for your loyalty and support during this time,
Ann Marie, Jim, and Sean Dunn
J.R. Dunn Jewelers
Brian Alter, Alter’s Gem Jewelry, Beaumont, TX
As of now we are still operating, but doing so under some careful protocols. Traffic is very light, though consistent each day. We have allowed our staff to dress casually, as we are using the time to thoroughly clean the store from floor to ceiling air vents.
We actually have some construction occurring in our store as we are updating our store kitchen. We have two other projects to improve our physical plant that we also hope to be able to start.
We know we will take a big hit in March in both volume and gross profit, but we have developed strategies in both our marketing and buying to help us recoup all we lose in the back half of the year. We are confident.
We are working to increase the ways we touch our client base. The biggest threat to each of us is the training of our client base to shop on-line rather than in store.
We are monitoring the websites of our governor, our County Judge, and our mayor constantly, to see what orders are being issued during this fluid time. We have discussed “stay at home” protocols and have plans in place if we need to close temporarily.
So far, our staff remains upbeat. Each person has been offered the opportunity to stay at home, without penalty. To a person, they all want to come to work. The rule is home to car to work to car to home. Barring picking up food, all are abiding by the protocol but are grateful to be out.
The risk to our community as of now is still published by our health department as low. If that changes, our decisions will change as well.
Click here or tune in to The Centurion’s Sales Strategy Newsletter tomorrow for more tips from better jewelers across the nation.
Signet Closes North American Stores Through April 4; Employees Will Be Paid, For Now
Akron, OH—All Signet nameplates in North America, including its Kay, Jared, Zales, James Allen, Peoples Jewellers, and Piercing Pagoda stores, will be closed at least through April 4, a company statement released Monday said. Support centers also will close but the brands’ online channels will remain open.
A schedule for reopening the stores will depend on guidelines from government and health officials.
Employees will continue to receive benefits and pay through a combination of base pay and available paid time off through April 4, at which time the company says it will further assess the situation. But CEO Virginia Drosos cautioned in the statement that the company is anticipating reduced customer spend following the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy, and upcoming changes for employees will include reduced work hours, furloughs, and reduced compensation across its stores and support center. The changes also will apply to its executives and board of directors.
Global Auction Houses Shuffle Schedules In Response To COVID-19
Christie’s has postponed its Geneva and New York jewelry sales, while Sotheby’s has, for now, plans to continue all sales scheduled up to March 31, although bidding will be online and telephone only. Read more here.