All that glitters is not gold, as the saying goes, but the following jewelry stores and boutiques beg to differ! From New Hampshire down to North Carolina, with a stop in West Virginia and a side trip over to South Dakota, four establishments graciously identified some of their top-selling jewelry and gift items and shared several trade secrets on how they increase sales.
Beyond Obsession in Moultonborough, N.H., specializes in affordable fashion jewelry and accessories. One of the store’s best-selling jewelry lines is by William Wang Designs out of Florida, and it is indeed very glittery since the pieces incorporate Swarovski Crystals. “The bling factor of the Swarovski Crystals grabs people’s attention. William Wang’s pendants, necklaces, bracelets and rings really do sparkle,” said Owner Jen Correia. The 1,500-square-foot space also does a brisk trade in all manner of scarves, from silky prints to toasty woolens. Their popularity can easily be traced to New Hampshire’s climate. “Scarves aren’t as key in summer, but they’re a big seller in the winter. They’re a nice, easy, inexpensive thing for people to pick up for gifts,” Correia explained.
The power of interaction with customers can never be underestimated, according to Correia. “Especially with scarves. A customer may not even be in the market to buy a scarf or a poncho. But if I just pick one up – for instance, I have ponchos that you can wear multiple ways. And when I start demonstrating them – that interaction usually results in a sale.” Correia also said it is helpful if a shopkeeper can be intuitive about a customer’s personality. “Some people like help and you can tell the ones that do. They’re coming into Beyond Obsession because of the interactive aspect. You’re not going to get that in a big box store. Just showing people that something can be worn multiple ways – they really like that,” she concluded.
Ruby’s Gift in Charlotte, N.C., focuses on one-of-a-kind, handmade items crafted by local artisans. Art, jewelry, home goods, pottery, clothing, accessories – it’s all here and much more. Handmade rings fashioned from hammered silver and semi-precious gemstones are a particular favorite of customers. The rings’ price point is attractive too, as they retail for only $20 and $26 apiece. “They’re located right by the register so people try them on and just buy them,” said Store Manager Mary Digby. Ruby’s Gift uses Facebook and Instagram to spread word about the unique hand-crafted fare found within its approximately 1,500-square-foot retail space. They take advantage of promotional opportunities such as Small Business Saturday in November as well.
Specializing in artful goods for every day, Sticks and Steel in Sioux Falls, S.D., is proud to carry the work of local, regional and nationally known artists and designers. Among the jewelry lines featured inside the 2,000-square-foot store, the Holly Yashi and Rook & Crow collections stand out. “Holly Yashi is very unique in terms of style, playfulness and color. They’ve been around for a long time and are well-known in the jewelry world. Plus, it’s relatively affordable,” said Owner Terri Schuver. Meanwhile, customers admire the mixed metals inherent in Rook & Crow jewelry pieces. “They’re really updated classics,” Schuver explained. Sticks and Steel holds regular trunk shows featuring their jewelry artists and considers such events to be very important in terms of encouraging more sales.
Pinning down a best-selling gift item other than jewelry can be a bit of challenge at Sticks and Steel. There are literally hundreds of – as their slogan says, artful goods for every day – on hand. After much deliberation, Schuver finally singled out Dock 6 Pottery and more specifically, their coasters. “They’re useful, handsome and not too expensive,” she concluded.
They put a great deal of emphasis on Made in America items at The Vintage Lady in Harpers Ferry, W.V. “We’re mainly a tourist community. We get people visiting from all over the world. When people come to our town, they really enjoy buying things that are locally made,” said Cindi Dunn who co-owns the 900-square-foot shop with her husband Billy Ray. The beautiful hand-blown glass, candles and soap, as well as West Virginia wine, beer and hard cider the duo have on hand, represent items of this nature, but it is only the beginning. “We also carry something that is pretty unusual – a line of hand-carved coal figures created by a husband and wife team from the coal field area of West Virginia. They craft animal figures, a coal miner, a coal truck – out of actual coal. These are very, very popular items for us.”
Jewelry is far and away The Vintage Lady’s best-selling item. Part of their success is rooted in tragedy. Three years ago, The Vintage Lady’s original location was lost in a fire that destroyed three buildings, eight businesses and two apartments – although thankfully, no lives were lost. Jewelry had been a mainstay prior to the fire but in its wake, Cindi Dunn and a long-time employee – Crystal Grimsley, store manager – began making jewelry in earnest. They had done so before but a new line they crafted with salvaged silver from the fire and named “Out of the Ashes” proved to be extremely popular. (It has since sold out). Dunn had also rescued some formed glass stars from the storefront’s window in the fire’s aftermath. Freshly created versions of these same stars have proven very popular in the shop’s new location just 45 steps away from its old one. “As we’ve gone forward, the stars have become kind of our symbol because they didn’t melt, they didn’t break during the fire. We love, love, love selling those stars,” Dunn said.
Focusing on original locally-made items, designing enchanting window displays, holding trunk shows, even taking the negative experience of a fire and turning it into a positive – these have all contributed to The Vintage Lady’s success. It also led to it being voted Best Unique Boutique in West Virginia for 2017 by readers of a regional lifestyle magazine. “I firmly believe that yes, everyone is still going to shop online and everyone is still going to go to big box stores but I think that small businesses offer people an experience. And that is exactly what we try to do.”