Whether an independent jeweller with one store in a quaint countryside village, or a national retailer with a presence in all the major cities, it’s important for every single jeweller to embed their business into the local community.
Just like the saying goes that people buy from people, more often than not consumers like to buy from companies which share their values, and this is not limited to ethics and quality, it also includes whether a business supports the very community they are a part of.
Building a local client base is one of the most important things a retailer can do. After all, tourists will come and go, but if you build a relationship with a customer from the city centre you will have more opportunities to invite them in store, and make them aware of upcoming events and new product launches. It’s this very ethos that has kept traditional jewellers with no online presence alive on today’s high street despite the tough trading conditions no retailer is immune to.
When visiting these kinds of jewellers on our monthly cityscapes many of them have more clients in store than perhaps those with a bigger status in the industry. This is because they have earned the trust of the community, and built relationships which have been passed through generations and kept turnover ticking in today’s current climate.
Furthermore, these traditional jewellers also know the areas they reside inside and out. They can tell you the latest food establishment to pop up, and how old the pedestrian area is, and they make an effort to build a community among businesses.
While we are not saying jewellers should abandon online and just focus on bricks and mortar, there is definitely a lesson to be learnt about the importance of engaging with the local community.
“Being part of the local community means a lot to myself and the team here at Wongs,” shares Liverpool-based Wongs Jewellers business manager, Cynthia Aldridge, adding: “It is important to us that we engage with our local consumers and they understand what we’re all about.”
Sara Sweet, co-owner of independent Sonkai Jewellers in Norwich, echoes: “As a family micro-business the local community is hugely important. It’s our home, our friends, family and in a way, extended colleagues too — we know more of our business neighbours more closely than we do our residential ones.”
For independent jewellery retailer, Nicholas Wylde, the designer-maker has always made it a priority to get involved with the local community — and make sure the relationship is a two way thing. This usually starts with partnering with local bodies such as the city’s Business Improvement District.
“With the decline in footfall in all high streets in Britain, it is more important than ever before to get the message out that shoppers need to shop local to help protect their high street shopping areas for now and in the future,” shares owner of the eponymous stores, Nicholas Wylde. “This is especially important for our Clifton branch which is part of a very tight-knit community of retailers in that area.”
And it’s not just independent jewellers placing an importance on this, multiples work towards this principle too.
“Although we’re a national brand we do like to see our stores as ‘local jewellers’, especially those on smaller high street locations,” shares F. Hinds sales development director, Jeremy Hinds. “Many of our stores have been on their respective high streets for 20+ years and have become a destination for making what can be emotive purchases.”
For many jewellers, one of the best ways to connect with the communities they are in is to choose a local charity they are passionate about to support.
“Personally, I think every business has a responsibility to give something back,” shares owner of fashion-focused Fabulous Jewellers, Jo Stroud. “I think most of us now judge a business on so much more than its products and service. Its social consciousness, approach to its community, its ethics and its overall way of doing business are now almost as important as what a company does. For us, being part of charitable initiatives in the community has been a core part of what we do, for the whole 12 years since we launched.”
Browsing through the pages on our website, it quickly becomes apparent that independent jewellers are no strangers to supporting charities.
In our round-up of what retailers consider to be their greatest achievements of 2017, many named a fundraising event. For example, Neil & Barker raised money for the Alzeimer’s Society at its annual charity gold day, while the team at Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery took part in a charity bike ride in aid of Pancreatic Cancer Research.
Elsewhere, Wongs Jewellers welcomed members of the local community to its second annual Winter Ball in November, with this year’s event raising £44,288 for Liverpool-based Alder Hey Children’s charity.
For national jewellers many give staff and stores the opportunity to choose the charities they want their employers to help support.
Jeremy Hinds of F. Hinds explains: “We try to direct charitable efforts towards supporting staff members who are involved in local causes and some stores run fundraising events for local charities or organisations. For example our Bury store have been supporting a local animal charity.”
In addition, F. Hinds encourages managers to get involved with local BIDs, which influence local decisions, and as a company they run in-store events which aim to bring local businesses together. For example, F. Hinds runs wedding events where store managers are encouraged to contact local wedding suppliers, such as cake bakers, photographers and dress shops, to partner with them.
At Daniella Drapers, a designer-maker jewellery boutique with four stores in the UK, the local community make up the core of each store’s sales, so being part of it is imperative.
Alongside getting involved with local charities and good causes, the brand also designs charms which represents each location the stores reside in.
At Fabulous Jewellers the team look to support events which are already happening in the town. In Bath, the independent jeweller has participated in Bath Fashion Week as a key sponsor, and in Leamington Fabulous takes part in the local art festival — a key event on the local calender.
Fabulous’ owner also gives talks in local schools about retail as a viable career option, and offers work experience in her stores.
Elsewhere, family-run Warrenders Jewellers can be found giving talks on jewellery to local community groups, and the retailer is the corporate sponsor for the local cricket club.
“As an established family jewellers, being part of the local community is incredibly important to us,” shares Warrenders store manager, John Kitchener. “Last year was our 70th anniversary and we marked the occasion with an evening of champagne and canapes in the Royal Box at Epsom Racecourse, which we thought was a the perfect way to give thanks to our customers.”
Of course, another way to root a business in a particular location is through local marketing.
Many jewellers regularly advertise in local newspapers and magazines, with mixed results. For some, the advert they place in the newspaper every week is vital to business, while others aren’t sure it’s really being seen by the right people.
For David Mellor the family-run British jewellery retailer says radio advertising is most effective.
“In terms of local advertising, we have a regular advert being played on a local radio station, which we find to be the most effective method of advertising tried thus far, particularly using a jingle that gets stuck in one’s head,” explains Amy Mellor, head of sales and marketing at David Mellor. “We also advertise frequently in local directories, newspapers and online news sites.”
Fabulous Jewellers favours glossy magazines over newspapers, and finds its city’s local magazines such as Bath Life a real asset to business. In addition, the retailer says print adverts in such publications still prove to be more effective than Facebook advertising.
In Sutton, Warrenders Jewellers finds producing its own magazine more beneficial. The jeweller says its own bi-annual publication, which is sent out to its customers and local residents, is incredibly important to the business as it engages local shoppers and keeps them up to date with Warrender news. The business has also worked with other local independent retailers on social media competitions and campaigns.
“We recently ran a social media campaign in collaboration with other local independent retailers to offer a host of prizes to one lucky winner in time for Christmas, which has not only developed the relationships we have with other local business owners, but also helped us reach and engage with other customer bases and promote each other’s business,” store manager Kitchener explains. “We were all pleased with the results of this campaign, and will look to develop a similar partnership marketing campaign again for this Christmas.” In Liverpool, Wongs Jewellers made the decision a couple of years ago to focus its marketing budget more on creating customer experiences, as opposed to print and online advertising.
“We have held intimate events in store with clients viewing select products, hosting clients at external events and have even taken clients abroad with us on factory visits to view some beautiful products. These sort of events are great to showcase on our social media channels and would hopefully encourage prospective customers to pay us a visit,” explains Aldridge.
Looking ahead, Wongs will be holding a Chinese New Year party in store this year, complete with a lucky lion dance, and is looking to become a partner of the International Tennis tournament held in Liverpool.
At the moment, Warrenders is in the planning stages of putting together a collection of jewellery, whereby a percentage of the profits will be donated to a local charity, and F Hinds has built up a rapport with some local social media accounts who the jeweller will work with to share content. In Cleethorpes Daniella Draper is looking to sponsor a beach clean up, while in Lincoln the designer-maker boutique will be hosting interesting social and cultural events in its upstairs space. In Bath Nicholas Wylde is co-promoting an engagement ring/champagne balloon ride competition with local company Bath Balloons.
Other jewellers over the next 12 months will be sponsoring events, hosting more fundraisers and looking at the local calendar to see where they can partner with the city and its community.
While there is no one size fits all solution, engaging with the community is never going to be a bad idea.