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50 States/50 Jewelers: Colorado
Walters & Hogsett delivers “casual luxury” to its Boulder clientele, who work hard to play hard.
Boulder, Colo.--Amid the changing and challenging retail environment, the editorial team at National Jeweler wondered how macro trends--from online shopping to serving new generations of consumers--have affected jewelers in disparate parts of the country.
In order to find out, we launched a series called 50 Jewelers/50 States, in which we interview one retailer in each of the 50 U.S. states.
Boulder, Colorado jewelry store Walters & Hogsett capitalizes on its customer’s desire for “casual luxury,” striking a balance between the cosmopolitan tastes of the area’s well-heeled clientele with the active energy of a Rocky Mountain lifestyle.
Walters & Hogsett started as a business run by two couples, Walter and BJ Vieregg, and Ron and Gail Hogsett.
Today, the store is owned by Don Jansen, who came aboard 20 years ago, and the Vieregg’s nephew, Mark Vieregg, who left behind a career as a CPA and regional subsidiary controller of Enterprise Rent-A-Car to join the store a decade ago.
Vieregg, though, was quick to tell National Jeweler that many people are responsible for the business’s success.
“It’s 100 percent a team effort,” Vieregg said. “My business partner Don and our 18-year employee and store manager Emily make it all happen with some amazing employees. And I still ask my aunt and uncle for advice in between their retirement travels.”
Vieregg spoke with National Jeweler about catering to the Boulder, Colorado lifestyle.
National Jeweler: What’s the biggest challenge your store is facing?
Mark Vieregg: We have been lucky to grow three out of the last four years and set some records in the business. That growth comes from adhering to our core values: expert knowledge, professionalism, courteous service and honesty.
The challenge is getting the mix of the right staff and the right brand partners while solidifying our presence in the marketplace through marketing, community outreach, special events, shopping as entertainment, things like that.
Getting that mix right is hard but nobody ever
NJ: What’s the top-selling item or brand at your store?
MV: Rolex and Hearts On Fire are leaders for us. We know that quality always matters and that people appreciate the art of the well-made piece.
Our top-selling items are in the fashion category. We’re not a heavy bridal store--we do well with that but fashion is key for us.
It can be right-hand rings, earrings, bracelets. We love color and Hearts On Fire’s fashion jewelry is really good for us.
NJ: Describe your regional customer.
MV: Boulder is a destination place to live and work. It’s an informal place so it’s casual, but Colorado and Boulder are growing and there is more of a fashion influence here every year. It’s no longer a hippie town.
Our customer embodies that combination of casual with luxury. Casual luxury works with their enthusiasm for how they live, where they live, and what they do.
Our fine jewelry and timepieces have to fit their lifestyles. It’s got to be active and wearable.
We certainly serve the 35- to 55-year-old self-purchasing woman as well as men, spouses and partners buying for their loved ones.
NJ: What’s the most popular style of engagement ring with your clientele?
MV: Bridal is a growing category for us. Because of new brides’ active lifestyles, solitaire engagement rings and wedding bands that can be partnered with them--but not always worn at the same time--work well. It gives them flexibility for what they are doing that week or weekend.
Women may wear a couple of bands and a ring, or a ring and one band, or a ring only. We certainly encourage them to express themselves however they want. It’s fun and they get to be comfortable dressing up or down.
We love colored gemstones and feature them prominently in our store but we still sell mostly diamonds in our engagement rings, and mostly round diamonds.
A post shared by Walters & Hogsett (@waltershogsett) on May 3, 2017 at 8:53pm PDT
NJ: What’s your internet and social media presence like? What accounts do you have or actively use?
MV: We hired Fruchtman Marketing three and a half years ago or so and they really help us with Facebook as an advertising platform and a sharing platform.
But our personality comes through our staff posting on Instagram as far as celebrating jewelry and celebrating lifestyle. So we try both. Facebook is a lot more paid advertising while Instagram is a lot more of our personality and what’s happening and just sharing fun jewelry photos and how people are wearing jewelry today.
We began e-commerce on our website last November, so now it’s about figuring out how we can personalize that and invite people in by working that tool.
E-commerce has made it easier for people to find options and shop and research but as far as sales, so far we tend to get phone calls or e-mail inquiries about items people have seen online. The majority of our customers are local but we’ve had some out-of-state sales and out-of-city sales due to the website. We’re finding new customers.
The omnichannel concept is big so we’re trying to connect customers to our staff via the website, e-mails, Instagram and Facebook.
NJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer to other independent jewelry stores?
MK: We believe jewelry has always been and will continue to be relevant for life’s moments and today’s lifestyles.
Your brand is the most valuable thing you own. Embrace that belief and evolve in terms of how you share what you do best.
Omnichannel retail is real, so strive to create a relationship with customers via your website, e-mail, text, Instagram, etc. Then invite them into your store.
We’re going to celebrate with our clients, advise them, do consultative selling with them and give them options. That’s how we think we can thrive.
NJ: What’s a fun fact about you we can share with our readers?
MK: I’m blessed to have a wonderful wife and five wonderful kids in addition to a wonderful business. So it’s an aerobic living, but living in Boulder makes it sweet. Boulder is a great place to live and work and play.
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