By James Alperin
alpjewel@aol.com
For literally thousands of years jewelry has been treasured by women and men for its lasting value. Gold, sapphires, rubies, diamonds … just those words alone conjure up thoughts of riches, kings and queens, and treasure chests filled to overflowing.
2016 Jim AlperinRetailer Jim Alperin owns James Alperin Jewelers in Pepper Pike, Ohio and is the author of two novels, “The Moscow Team” and “The Emerald Necklace.”

Not only has jewelry been worn by nobles and the rich throughout history, but since before the time of Cleopatra, it was also manufactured and sold by someone in the jewelry business. Someone was paid for making that jewelry and selling it. That’s right, we all know it: We are in the second-oldest profession known to man.

After thousands of years of people wanting to own jewelry, change has come, seemingly overnight. Today’s youth would rather have an experience than a possession.

I recently heard the owner of a spa in Italy say, “Luxury doesn’t exist anymore; now it is lifestyle.” In keeping with that same sentiment, another expression recently overheard is, “Restaurants are the new retail.”  

The two phrases really go hand-in-hand. A restaurant represents an experience as well as a meal. It’s a night out to share with someone special; it’s a lifestyle choice. A day at the spa is also a lifestyle choice. You take nothing home but your good feelings and memories.
Anything that will make coming to your store more of an experience than simply a visit to a retail establishment will engage the younger generation and hopefully have them return over and over again.
Many people today would rather have an experience than a possession, which means that the way we as jewelers are going to be successful in the future is by offering more of an experience to our clients. The physical setting is going to be increasingly important.

A wine bar within the store, having good coffee and pastries set up in a prominent area of the store, a garden where couples can sit and talk, cross-marketing with the local salon for a day of getting facials and haircuts … I have a retailer friend in New Jersey who has a fully stocked bar set up in the back of his store with flat screen TVs. All his friends come to his store in the evenings and they drink and watch sports and often buy jewelry from him. I know of a store in Pennsylvania that has a wine tasting room because its owners also own a winery.

Outside the jewelry industry, one establishment that’s made its business by creating an environment is undoubtedly Starbucks. I went to a Starbucks recently and had a coffee and a pastry and, you know what? It isn’t that good. The banana bread that I had is identical to every other Starbucks that I’ve been in across the country. It’s just average and the coffee is not the best I’ve ever had either, yet they are the biggest thing going in the coffee-shop world.

Why? It isn’t for the taste of their baked goods. If flavorful bakery items were the key, my Swiss friend who has a small bakery in Cleveland would be rich. It’s the atmosphere, the experience that has the appeal and I’m not sure that I have that figured out yet for my store.

The above constitute just a few examples of ways to create an environment that extends beyond the product you’re selling. The point is that anything that will make coming to your store more of an experience than simply a visit to a retail establishment, will engage the younger generation and hopefully have them return over and over again.


That experience is something that the Internet can’t give.

The retail jewelry market is forever changed and it’s going to be an uphill battle for those of us who survive.

Keep in mind what it is that the next generation wants and give it to them, it may keep your store in business long enough to pass on to the next generation of your family.

Retailer Jim Alperin owns James Alperin Jewelers in Pepper Pike, Ohio and is the author of two novels, The Moscow Team and The Emerald Necklace. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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