NATIONAL JEWELER 33 N n An ever-evolving retail landscape means that only the savviest merchants stay in business. Here’s a glimpse into the practices of jewelers who are succeeding today. successful today are humble about the fact that they might not have all the answers. Recipes of the past might not work anymore.” SALES SUCCESS STORIES Winning retail formulas are as varied as the personal tastes of shoppers, though all require a leap of faith. For National Jeweler columnist Peter Smith, the biggest change he urges retailers to make may challenge one of their most cherished beliefs: that they should hire graduate gemologists as salespersons. Smith, a former Hearts On Fire executive and current president of diamond jewelry company Vibhor, recalls teaching two classes of about 150 store owners each at a HOF University gathering 10 years ago. A retailer in a morning session asked him about the relationship between experience, industry credentials, and sales performance, and Smith responded by asking a question of his own. “How many of you have at least one graduate gemologist on staff?” he recollects. One hundred hands went up. “Leave those hands up if at least one of those GGs is a Hearts On Fire sales champion,” he instructed. Zero hands remained in the air. Intrigued, he asked his afternoon audience the same question and got exactly the same numbers—no champions among 100 GGs. (Champion status is earned by selling a minimum of 100 units of Hearts On Fire jewelry or $350,000 in total HOF retail dollars.) “With 300 unique stores represented across the two sessions, and about 60 champions company-wide that year, about one in five of the raised hands should have been left up to indicate that a GG was also a champion,” says Smith. “The fact that there wasn’t showed that an inverse relationship between experience and pedigree and ability to sell could exist. I know a few GGs who are also great salespeople, but they are very much the exception.” Winning retail formulas also include unforgettable experiences. These are a specialty for Cathy Calhoun of Calhoun Jewelers. Her most high-profile and in-demand event is her annual Oscars Party, held at the historical Colonial Theatre near her Royersford, Pennsyl- vania store. “People come in [to the store] and ask to be put on the mailing By Jennifer Heebner