A screen shot from Watchmakers Diamonds&Jewelry's branded television advertisement for the "Rhythm of Love" diamond jewelry line
Johnstown, Pa.--Generally, Black Friday isn’t a big day for jewelers sales-wise. It is more a day, they say, for everybody to line up at big-box stores for deals on flat-screen TVs or to load up their shopping carts with iPads.

But one Pennsylvania retailer is determined not to get left out of the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping festivities, or any shopping that might take place in the month of November for that matter.

J. Dennis Petimezas, president of Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry in Johnstown, will start his holiday season push Thursday with a promotion he’s run in the past: buy a diamond, get a hunting rifle.

He said he’s certain to specifically note that it is a rifle for hunting to avoid any negative feedback, though he adds it’s a promotion his customers are sure to understand, given the hunting-heavy nature of the state. “People in our area understand that hunting is part of the culture,” Petimezas said.

The diamonds-and-rifles promotion will run until Nov. 16. Shortly thereafter, he’ll begin heavily marketing the “Rhythm of Love,” a new line of diamond jewelry that incorporates a patented system that allows the diamonds to vibrate inside their halo mountings.

The movement of the diamonds draws attention to their brilliance. There also is a strong emotional selling point to the Rhythm of Love line, as the diamonds move because of the wearer’s heartbeat.

As part of the marketing push for the Rhythm line, the jeweler said he has hired a student studying dance at the local college to personally deliver a dozen or so of the purchased Rhythm pieces in a sort of dancing telegram manner.

The student will don a tux and do an “aggressive freestyle”-type dance--Petimezas compared it to the performance of the main character at the end of Napoleon Dynamite--to a song fittingly called Rhythm of Love before presenting the recipient with her new piece of jewelry. “That’s the best way to create buzz about this,” he said.

Petimezas said he sees sales of the Rhythm line being on par with some of De Beers’ more successful beacon programs, such as the past-present-future rings or Journey diamond jewelry. “What else do we have to put our arms around and promote to the public?” he said. “This is so hot.”

Marketing of the Rhythm line will run until Nov. 23, about a week before the Black Friday rush begins, and Petimezas will move on to his next holiday marketing campaign, an escalating gift-with-purchase promotion.

In lieu of discounting his merchandise, the jeweler will offer the video game Call of Duty to customers who spend at least $199, while those who spend at least $799 get a Pebble smartwatch. Spending $1,999 or more nets customers a PS4 while the final tier, $2,495 and up, gets customers a four-day luxury cruise.

For those customers who aren’t interested in the hunting rifle or any of the gifts, Petimezas is offering them an incentive to shop on Cyber Monday, the Monday following the holiday weekend where people tend to do a lot of buying online. He is giving them a gift card to spend either online or in store that day.

“(For independent jewelers), it’s not just business as usual,” Petimezas said. “You can’t be sitting back and watching. You’ve got to get out there. If you make a couple of mistakes, that’s OK. But you’ve got to be in the game.”

Petimezas isn’t the only retailer looking to get a jump on holiday marketing in an increasingly competitive retail environment, where there are fewer dollars being spent by consumers and more places to spend them, including online, which is open 24/7. 

J.C. Penney was running Christmas-themed layaway ads as early as September and Jewelry Television held a holiday shopping event last month.

In addition, more retailers are planning to open on Thanksgiving Day this year.

J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s have announced intentions to do turkey day business, as have Sears and Kmart, both of which are owned by Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears Holdings. The company said Monday that its Kmart stores would open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, before most people even have had a chance to put the turkey in the oven.

While pushing forward store opening times might be profitable for executives, it’s creating a backlash in the general public, particularly among those who are going to have to work on Thanksgiving.

While Petimezas likes to start marketing for the holidays early, he said a Thanksgiving opening is overly aggressive abuse of workers, and something he would never inflict on his staff, many of whom have been with him for 20 years or more.

“Never say never, but I just can’t imagine a scenario where we would do that. Being open on Thanksgiving Day, it seems like it would cheapen us and make us look greedy,” he said. “That’s just how I feel about it. I don’t know that it would [fit with] the image that we’ve worked so hard to establish.” 

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