By Sara Karnish
Jewelry, especially pieces featuring gemstones and natural materials, is a strong seller at cave and cavern gift shops. “In our shop, a lot of what we do with our jewelry goes along with our theme—rocks and stones,” said Jennifer Brumbaugh, coordinator, Raystown Rocks Gift Shop at Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks in Huntingdon, Pa. “We have people who come in looking for stones for metaphysical reasons—if they can wear it, it’s easier for them to have the stone with them. We also have a lot of people who come in looking for jewelry because it’s unique and special. Gemstones are really unique—when you’re buying stone jewelry, no two pieces are exactly alike. People like to show off their uniqueness with unique jewelry.”
Shawn Painter, retail operations manager at Luray Caverns in Luray, Va., said natural gemstone jewelry is also their best-selling item because “we’re a natural attraction” and because “it’s worn daily by many, available in a wide range of price points, easily gifted, and can be personalized.”
It’s a profitable category at Lost River Caverns and Gilman’s Mineral Lapidary in Hellertown, Pa., according to Beverly Rozewicz, partner/buyer. They assemble many of the pieces in-house and are a supplier for jewelry making supplies. “We carry some brand name jewelry like Adagio. We do a lot of necklaces, some bracelets and earrings. Some of the other pieces we get are from non-mainstream-type jewelry. We have businesses who come in and buy the loose stones and tools to make or buy their own jewelry. With the change in the silver and gold market, some of our suppliers have gone out of business,” she explained. Besides the jewelry they assemble on the premises, their best-sellers are “crystal point necklaces, whatever color they are. Rose quartz, amethyst, and quartz are the three major ones I see selling,” she said.
“We have some really nice, big [resin jewelry] trees that we hang our necklaces on. We started with one—things sold so well, we bought a second one. It’s helped tremendously, especially with some of our unique pieces or things we don’t buy in large quantities. We hang them on the tree and they sell well.”
– Jennifer Brumbaugh, Raystown Rocks Gift Shop at Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks, Huntingdon, Pa.
J.D. Harshfield, manager at Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Ohio, said his most effective selling tip is visibility. “We have an entire wall in our shop that’s dedicated to jewelry,” he said. “We have dozens and dozens of styles on hooks on our peg wall. We hang them by their style. They’re presented very nicely. Customers can easily compare styles, et cetera. We do a lot with AT Stores—they’re a very good supplier for us for pre-packaged and boxed jewelry.” The team at Ohio Caverns assembles many of the pieces they sell in their 1,500-square-foot gift shop in-house: “We bring in pendants from all over the world, put them on chains, and price them individually. It’s popular for us because a lot of it has to do with price point. It’s pretty inexpensive—most ranges from $6.99 to $14.99. We can do that because we buy directly from the source—no wholesalers,” he explained.
Retailers use a few different merchandising methods for greatest impact. “We try to keep like things together,” Brumbaugh said. “All of our gemstone
jewelry is together, then we have more inexpensive pieces for kids (i.e., mood rings, mood necklaces, things that kids would buy). We have another section with more adult-looking, inexpensive jewelry that we keep in one area. We have jewelry tables—nesting tables that we can pull out and move around. That’s where we display the necklace trees and more expensive jewelry that creates a very pretty visual look to it, as well as keeping all that merchandise in one area.” She pointed out they have a separate section for aromatherapy items, including healing stones. “We pull that out and put it with the metaphysical items because it makes sense,” she explained.
Brumbaugh suggested using creative display pieces to show off the jewelry’s unique features. “We have some really nice, big [resin jewelry] trees that we hang our necklaces on. We started with one—things sold so well, we bought a second one. It’s helped tremendously, especially with some of our unique pieces or things we don’t buy in large quantities. We hang them on the tree and they sell well.” She added, “One thing I would recommend is to get some interesting-shaped bowls. Some of ours are made from stone. We use them for rings, sometimes our bracelets. They make nice display pieces, especially for the gemstones. It also ties into the venue and the theme of the store. We have some other displays—one of Wheeler jewelry—that we keep close to the counter. One other tip—we have aromatherapy jewelry that we sell in a little area that’s dedicated to metaphysical uses and purposes. We sell chakra jewelry. We have aromatherapy jewelry next to our pendulums, healing rocks, stones for metaphysical reasons.”
“I’m hearing natural, fun, and colorful. Chokers, pearls, chunky chains, and arm cuffs. Time will tell.”
– Shawn Painter, Luray Caverns, Luray, Va., commenting on 2022 trends.
Painter advised utilizing vendors’ display racks and arranging items in a creative way. “Take advantage of racks and merchandisers offered by manufacturers. I believe they put a lot of study into merchandising their products. [And] offer a variety of price points and styles,” she suggested. They have tried different merchandising methods at Lost River Caverns over the years. Currently, Rozewicz and her team try to make it as visible as they can. “We have a lot of counter displays. We’ve found that keeping things in display cases, people often do not want to ask to see it. It kind of inhibits sales,” she explained. “We’ve tried to get it out on the counters so people can see it more readily and will be able to identify the price more quickly. We’re working on getting it more up front and make it more visible. We have kind of a quirky store, it’s not as easy to display items.”
Looking ahead to 2022, retailers are mixed on emerging trends. Harshfield said at Ohio Caverns, they keep up with trends to a certain extent, but tend to rely on their tried-and-true sellers “We don’t have anything specific that we’re looking to do with increasing sales [with trendy items]. Quartz and amethyst on a rotator pendant—we’re seeing a lot of them come in. We’re anxiously awaiting our shipment to see how they do in our store,” he said. Trends can be difficult to predict, and even more difficult to sell when it just doesn’t fit a market. Painter said she is expecting a few trends in the New Year: “I’m hearing natural, fun, and colorful. Chokers, pearls, chunky chains, and arm cuffs. Time will tell,” she said. Rozewicz predicted “longer necklaces, layered necklaces. One vendor is encouraging a lot of high-end birthstone jewelry.”
Visitors to caves and caverns gravitate towards jewelry because it is a direct correlation to the attraction. From birthstone rings to healing stones, cave and cavern gift shop retailers strive to carry a wide range of jewelry that looks great, is affordable, and fits the look and feel of the attraction.