Madison, Wis.--In 50 Jewelers/50 States, National Jeweler interviews one retailer in each of the 50 U.S. states to find out how they are meeting the challenges of the changing retail environment.

Goodman’s Jewelers has seen a lot change over its nearly 85 years in business in Madison, Wisconsin.

Through economic ups and downs, its central location downtown has helped keep it relevant, and solid customer service keeps customers coming back.

Owner John Hayes spoke with National Jeweler about what his millennial clients are buying and his approach to updating with the times.

20171109 Wisconsin 1Opened in 1933, Goodman’s Jewelers in located in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. It has 10 employees at its 3,000-square-foot store, half of which encompasses the showroom floor.
National Jeweler: What’s the biggest challenge your store is facing today?

John Hayes: Smaller tickets. Our average ticket has gone down considerably over the last eight years. People are still buying, they’re still getting engaged and celebrating birthdays and anniversaries every day, it’s just that they’re spending lower. We’ve actually had more traffic and tickets but it’s lower per ticket, though having more helps.

Madison is the capital city, and it’s relatively liberal in a conservative state. People are much more cautious about what they spend. Their spending habits over time have changed but it takes a while for that to revert back to the pre-recession spending.

The town is growing, but people don’t feel that they are benefiting from it.

NJ: What’s the top-selling category and brand at your stores?

JH: Bridal--engagement rings and wedding rings.

Our top-selling brand is Naledi. It’s a brand that uses South African gems, and it does real well for us.

NJ: Tell me about your regional customer.

JH: It’s complicated because we’ve been here for 85 years. We have older clients who have been coming for quite a few years.

We have a strong number of millennials who shop with us. We’re a downtown store, and they like living in downtown Madison. There’s a medical records company and they have a lot of employees who live in downtown Madison, and they’re all in that prime age for us for engagement so that’s a very strong category.

The breakdown of men and women is pretty even. Most of the time it’s couples who come together to shop. They tend to have researched, very much so, for a few months before walking in the door, so they’re well-informed consumers and they know what they want when they come in, and it’s our job to help them find or create that.

With older couples who come in, it’s more the males who do the spending.

20171109 Wisconsin 2John Hayes
NJ: What’s the most popular style of engagement ring with your clientele?

JH: Halo is still quite popular. Round is the most popular center stone, followed by cushions and some radiant cuts--occasionally oval and pear shapes. The metal of choice is still white gold, but rose gold and yellow gold are gaining a lot of popularity so we stock all three colors.

NJ: Which social media accounts are important to your stores?

JH: All of them. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. A couple of my staff make sure that every week we post things that are current and relevant, not only specifics about us but other interesting things as well. We’ve been working hard on trying to build our followers on Twitter and Facebook. I’m not as well-versed as the younger people who work for me; they do a good job.

NJ: Do you have e-commerce?

JH: We made a conscious decision not to have e-commerce. A lot of our inventory is visible on the website, but we prefer to have people come here to the store rather than buy through e-commerce.

NJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer to a fellow independent jeweler?

JH: I would say treat every person that comes in the door the same exact way you would want to be treated. Give them attention, don’t try to sell them, listen to what they want and help them find that so that they become your fans.

NJ: What’s a fun fact about you we can share with our readers?

JH: I have a large collection of ties. I wear a different holiday tie every day between Thanksgiving and the New Year.

I could wear a different tie for about six months straight.

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