Jim Ackerman is a retail jewelry marketing expert who has spoken at JA New York, JCK and other jewelry trade shows. He can be reached at 800-584-7585, ext. 3 or by email at mail@ascendmarketing.com.
Over two decades ago, Wink Jones closed his retail store and became an appointment-only jeweler out of an 800-square-foot office on the second floor of an off-the-beaten-path office building. Business boomed.

Later, Wink opened an online store selling nothing but high-end cubic zirconia. He prospered again!

When talking about “finding your niche,” almost all jewelers think in terms of appealing to a specific economic strata or carrying a certain kind or quality of product. But I’m here to suggest that you can go well beyond that, and you should, if you really want to tap the power of “the niche.”

For example, what if you not only limited your business to appointment-only, but also required that each client refer at least three other similar clients during their first year working with you?

If you did this, you could …

1. Eliminate a storefront;
2. Eliminate up-front advertising costs;
3. Be highly selective in the clients you accept; and
4. Make doing business with you something prestigious, special and talked about—create a “buzz.”

If you’re a traditional brick-and-mortar independent jeweler, this will sound a little scary; maybe too big of a jump to take.

How about going after a specific audience?

Do you live near a military base? Consider becoming the jeweler that caters only to members of the military and their relatives. It would mean literally saying no to everybody else but think how the military would feel about you—you’d win undying loyalty, and it’s a good bet that even when personnel gets transferred, you’ll still be able to maintain that relationship and continue to sell to them long-distance.

Here’s another example: George owns a chain of chain stores in Miami. He specializes in selling gold and silver chains to Cuban natives. He has a very small collection of other kinds of jewelry, but his main customers are young Cuban men who like to “bling it up” with chains. When he made this shift to doing business this way, his little indie shop exploded. He now has several small stores with low overhead, and he’s raking in millions.

If you’d prefer to go after the ultra high-end, become the traveling jeweler that brings your wares directly to busy top executives. They don’t have time to shop, so you shop for them. Then you bring an extremely limited selection to them at their offices or homes and let them choose. They’ll love you for it, you’ll never have to discount, they’ll refer you to their friends, your average ticket will skyrocket and your overhead will plummet.

Yes, there will be challenges. Security will be an issue, for example, but the potential is extraordinary.

You might take the traveling jeweler in a different direction.

Instead of a store, retrofit an old armored car. You can outfit it with a jeweler’s bench and three display cases in a horseshoe configuration at the back. Again, office calls, house calls and neighborhood visits become your modus operandi, and with the savings in overhead, you can easily afford to hire a trained security guard to go with you everywhere. (You can also keep your inventory in brass-and-glass and have finished product delivered by FedEx, after orders are placed.)

Consider a more traditional store but one that is exclusively targeted to members of the LGBT/alternative lifestyle community, or a shop exclusively targeted to women who buy jewelry for themselves, or a shop with jewelry for men only.

Think how much easier your advertising decisions and expenses become when you can go after a specific niche.

Too bold a move? Consider selecting one of these niches and cordoning off a room or section of your store where the display only holds items for members of the niche. An approach like this might allow you to test the concept before you take the ultimate plunge.

But consider this: Niches tend to be fiercely loyal and highly referring. Being courageous enough to focus on one niche at the exclusion of all others may lead to an exceptionally easy business and an outrageously profitable one.

Jim Ackerman is known as The Marketing Coach to the jewelry industry and has addressed retailers at jewelry trade shows including JA New York, JCK, the Atlanta Jewelry Show and others. He is providing National Jeweler readers with a free Buyer Risk Management copy of his BizKaboom Newsletter, valued at $37. Send your email request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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