Recently, a number of customers have asked me how our sales have been at Stones and Findings. They wondered if the economic downturn has affected the sales of our jewellery components. Some mentioned their sales have been affected, and a number of component suppliers have also seen their sales plummet. Stones and Findings’ year over year, monthly, and tradeshow sales have, in fact, increased dramatically. It is an interesting, and happy, situation and I’ve spent some time looking into the reasons behind this. I want to do more of what we’re doing right, and if there are any formulae or secrets that can be transferred from the jewellery component wholesale business to jewellery designing and sales business, I’d like to share them with our customers.
I realize the economy has been tough recently, and may continue to be so for a while. Jewellery purchase is ‘discretionary spending’ for the most part. However, historically, when the economy has been poor, we find that sales of certain things that beautify our world increases. They are pick-me-ups, and help remind us that we’re going to be okay. I believe that jewellery is one of these things, and I know some people who swear by it. I’ve spoken to many boutique owners and chain store buyers, some of whom carry other categories of merchandise such as clothing and giftware. They are finding that instead of buying entire wardrobes, customers are buying pieces of jewellery that accent and update their current wardrobe. It is less expensive and more fun.
However, if you look at it more closely, the items that get squeezed out are mainly the very low end, disposable pieces, and the very expensive. Customers are buying fewer jewellery pieces than before. However, they’re buying items that represent something, that resonate with their sense of well being. As a result, boutiques that carry unique, locally made (representing Canadian jobs), and pretty things are faring better than chain stores that import mass produced jewellery designs. People already have the mundane. They’re certainly not going to spend further ‘limited’ dollars on buying what they already have. They will, however, spend on jewellery pieces that are different and make them feel good wearing them, and about themselves. They are still cautious about prices, and they won’t stock up huge quantities, but they will purchase the ‘right’ things. This said, as jewellery designers, our customers are right to monitor the situation carefully, and make their selections wisely. Their designs must be unique, and priced well. The components they choose must be different and also priced competitively, and I think this is why our jewellery component wholesale business has almost doubled.
New customers do ‘test orders’ with us even though they don’t want to bother switching from their current suppliers for a few cents less. However, they have never seen many of our jewellery components anywhere else. We create a number of our own jewellery findings, and we’re making more and more of these because of how popular they’ve proven to be. Customers come back and place ever increasing orders because they realize how easy it is to make different and elegant jewellery designs when they have the right components to begin with. We are finding more and more customers switching to a greater percentage, if not entirely, of Stones and Findings components, and this is very satisfying. We know we have unique components that are well made and well priced. Our quickly expanding repeat sales confirms this.