By Karen Appold

Women photographed with a fashionable handbag at a Denver Art Museum store. One shop at the attraction spans 5,600 square feet while the other one has 750 square feet.

Women photographed with a fashionable handbag at a Denver Art Museum store. One shop at the attraction spans 5,600 square feet while the other one has 750 square feet.

If you’re looking to ring up more bling, consider this advice from Mari D’Alessandro, retail and rental operations manager, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, N.J. She has found that shoppers are drawn to jewelry that is accessible. “People like to be able to touch it and closely look at it, which isn’t possible when it’s housed in a glass case,” she said. D’Alessandro finds this to be especially true when someone is only somewhat interested in an item. In this instance, they hate to ask staff to open a case to show them something. If they decide they don’t want it, they end up feeling embarrassed. She realizes, however, that this may not work well for larger stores carrying pricey jewelry—especially if they don’t have enough staff to keep an eye on everything.
Another way to sell more jewelry is to offer unique items. The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling, W.V., sells locally-made, upcycled game piece jewelry. “Museum visitors are looking for nostalgia and a one-of-a-kind item to remind them of their trip and their childhood,” said Liz Hastings, office/gift shop manager. “They often remark how a relative absolutely loves Scrabble as they pick up a set of earrings or a nameplate. We hear gentlemen talk about playing with army men figures as they try to decide which one they want on a keychain. Siblings will get very excited about the Monopoly magnets, Risk earrings, Sorry pieces or even Clue and Candyland as they reminisce about bickering over a game board.”
A huge success for the Scrabble earrings has been to forego packaging the letters together and to let shoppers decide which letters they would like instead. “We find that they would much rather have their initials than two of the same letter,” Hastings said. “We ensure the display is hands-on so that visitors can handle the pieces and see their quality.”

 Visitor Service Staff Member Anna Halbersma photographed with the Zoe Mango line of real bug items at the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester, Va. Novelty children’s hats sell well for the store.

Visitor Service Staff Member Anna Halbersma photographed with the Zoe Mango line of real bug items at the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester, Va. Novelty children’s hats sell well for the store.

Hastings also uses colorful displays with real game boards, signage and tokens. Price points are kept at reasonable rates of $5 and under to encourage buying in multiples.
The jewelry is located right next to the register to encourage conversation between visitors and employees (who often wear the pieces from their favorite games).
Pamela Lam, business/retail manager, Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum Store, in Winchester, Va., finds that handmade jewelry items are a hit at the 250-square-foot store. The jewelry is made by visitor service staff and guests like buying items made by someone who actually works in the store. Staff also wear the items as they are working, which invites questions from visitors. Because it’s a children’s museum store with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, most of the jewelry is based on rocks, fossils and insects.
Given that Denver Art Museum Shops are located inside a museum, telling the artist’s story is important, said Greg McKay, associate director of retail operations. This includes telling the who, what, where and why about a piece. “Every sales associate should be able to come up with at least four or five things to say about an artist or line that are unique and don’t sound like a sales pitch,” he said. “People enjoy learning about an item and hearing something special or unusual about the artist’s work. It’s also important to get the jewelry into the hands of guests to feel, hold and bond with.” One shop spans 5,600 square feet while the other one has 750 square feet.
Shobi Patel, store manager, Morristown Medical Center Gift Shop Morristown, N.J., likes to group silver and gold pieces together, and then also pair earrings, bracelets and necklaces together. This enables customers to easily compile a set. “Most of the time, I do this in the outside windows so people walking by can see them,” she said. The store has 1,000 square feet.

Selling More Fashion Accessories
Retailers also offer a variety of ways to get scarves, hats and other fashion accessories to sell. McKay advised placing accessory displays adjacent to fashion ensembles. “This makes it easier for sales associates to add to selections,” he said. “Have mirrors readily available, because if it is a challenge to find a mirror it will impact sales negatively. “Display merchandise in multiple areas, when possible. Demonstrate the variety of looks accessories can make to a fashion.”
The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum gift shop, which boasts 760 square feet, carries a great assortment of adult and children’s engineer caps in both blue and pink. “We display these pieces with handkerchiefs in blue, red and pink to encourage the pairing of items,” Hastings said. “We also keep our very popular wooden train whistles and railroad company patches nearby to complete the ensemble. By keeping these items close to one another we encourage our employees to direct visitors to complete a gift purchase. This interaction between employee and visitor is key in ensuring a positive experience.” The store garners between $15,000 and $20,000 per year.

Greg McKay, associate director of retail operations, the Denver Art Museum Shops. McKay said that customers enjoy hearing something special or unusual about an artist’s work.

Greg McKay, associate director of retail operations, the Denver Art Museum Shops. McKay said that customers enjoy hearing something special or unusual about an artist’s work.

To appeal to children, the museum’s focus, Lam said the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum Store sometimes sells hats made in the shape of animals or characters such as snowmen, construction workers or cowboys. “Kids love them and will wear the hats based on the fun factor,” she said. The store’s annual sales are around $34,000.
D’Alessandro has found that the Montclair Art Museum store’s eye-catching scarf rack works well. It contains 50 loops for holding scarves. By doubling them up, the store can have 100 scarves on display. “The rack makes it possible for customers to touch the fabric, take a close look at it, and try it on and see how it looks in the mirror,” she said. “The self-help aspect is very important for shoppers.”
Patel puts scarves and hairbands together with the jewelry at Morristown Medical Center Gift Shop. “I like to make it easy for my customers to put together a quick outfit or ensemble to help them look polished,” she said. “For instance, I put a scarf over a black poncho I was selling, and instead of just [buying] the poncho, the customer bought three scarves as well.”
Increase your sales of jewelry and fashion accessories by trying out these tips.