Last updateTue, 20 Mar 2018 10pm

Bob Epstein

Brick and mortar retail is not dying

Epstein headshotBrick and mortar retailers are closing in record numbers as of late, but if you take a closer look at the list of retailers closing their doors in 2017 you will notice approximately half of all the closures are by national retailers such as Payless Shoes, Radio Shack and The Limited. Many believe that e-commerce is rapidly taking over the retail industry and will eventually lead to the death of the brick and mortar retailer.

Competing against the big chains this holiday season

Epstein BobAs the holiday shopping season approaches, a whole new slew of ads bombarding viewers begin to air. Many of them feature the jewelry store chains competing for holiday shopping dollars - “Hurry in to one of our 1,000 stores and get this mass produced ring. Sparkling love placed in a tiny cushioned display box - now at huge savings up to 60%.”

Time for aggressive marketing tactics

For the last century, store owners have operated on the premise borrowed from the script in “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come.” It’s all about location, right? So build your store in a traditional strip center on a busy street with good visibility and lots of parking and they will come. Or build it in a mall and they will come (or at least walk by). Or build it in a luxury lifestyle center and they will come - maybe in their BMW or Audi. The whole build it and they will come mentality is why many traditional jeweler store owners didn’t bother to maintain customer mailing lists, have anything but a rudimentary web site and scoff at Facebook.  Who needs Facebook, they will come.

Cost effective advertising strategies

From an advertising perspective, it’s tough being an independent retail jeweler. There’s just no way to compete with the big box stores who spend millions of dollars on national ad campaigns. On any major holiday, the newspapers and television channels are flooded with expensive, glitzy advertising. There’s just no way to compete - or is there?

Knowing when and how to retire

Consider the independent store owner reaching retirement age. It’s been thirty years of hard work, long hours, many weekends, most holidays, and while the business hasn’t made him wealthy by Wall Street standards, it’s been enough to pay off the mortgage, send the kids to college and keep a late model car in the garage. For years, his wife wanted to vacation in Hawaii. He could afford the trip - but he owns an independent jewelry store. Who has time for a trip like that? Even in the summer months when things were slow there were always things to do: inventory to buy; repair work to be done; some custom design jobs for demanding clients. So his wife stopped talking about Hawaii; they went to the trade show in Vegas instead and saw David Copperfield.

Happy New Year - Already?

January? February? Valentine’s Day? Most retailers just want to make it through this year’s holiday shopping season before thinking about 2014. Besides, January is typically not a strong month for retail jewelry sales. Yet many shoppers have cash-in-hand to spend from work bonuses and family gifts. So it’s a good time to contemplate running a January clearance or customer appreciation sale to move some of your older inventory that did not sell over the holidays and to attract new customers into your store.