The Studio – Jewelry Blog by Rio Grande

Ooh! Aah! Jewelry Draws a Crowd With Great Displays

Nov 16, 2011
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A few months ago, Rio Grande released a handy guide to great jewelry displays that attract attention and spur sales. It was a big hit because, for many jewelry artists and designers, creating a display that draws customers in and perfectly complements their line is easier said than done.

Vertical cases can create a focal point against traditional countertops while offering more display square footage in a tight space.

Questions on our Facebook page kept coming in, though, so who better to ask about great displays than successful retailers? We interviewed the ladies at Ooh! Aah! Jewelry, a 23-year old shop in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Albuquerque. Here are some of their thoughts.

Owned by Mary Vigil and led by store manager Dallas Ulibarri, Ooh! Aah! Jewelry has created an eclectic mix of display "stories" that offer something for everyone without overcrowding their quaint space. Basic countertops flank customers as they enter the store, while a series of taller tin cases in the middle create a horseshoe path around the store.

"We wanted a lot of room for people to move around, because the store can get really filled," Dallas told me. A small countertop in the back by the register creates a natural line for buying customers, and also gives salespeople a place to watch the store and help when needed.

By far the most-asked question about displays is, "How much is too much?" Ooh! Aah! Jewelry isn’t immune to the trap of overcrowding, and they edit themselves frequently.

“We talk about it constantly as a group,” said Dallas. “At points we get eager and overfill. Then we reevaluate and pull old stock out. We try to censor ourselves and imagine we’re customers. Does their eye know where to go?”

“We like to group everything by stories, so every shelf is its own story,” she said. “We feel like it’s really important to look in (to a case) and nothing blocks anything else.” Graduating risers or props assure each piece lives on its own level.

Fortuitously located next to a custom paper shop, Ooh! Aah! Jewelry often uses different colorful papers to tie their stories together, whether it be a garnet line or a collection of contemporary copper jewelry.

"We start a story with color. 'Ok, this is the red case,' for example. So we mix from all these different artists until it goes together," she explains.

The "Garnet Case" exhibits basic display principles: the pieces rise from front to back and smallest to largest. Color is used to create a simple, cohesive look.

Of course, they don’t always get things right the first time, which is why each employee keeps an eye open for improvement. If something isn’t working, it won’t last long. "That’s a lot of real estate for something that’s just sitting there," Dallas said. "So I’ll condense it into a smaller space because it’s not selling, or enlarge it and give it more space if it’s selling well." Back-stock trays are kept behind countertops. When a customer just can’t find that perfect pair of earrings, salespeople can bring out back stock to offer them more options.

Back in the displays, Ooh! Aah! Jewelry continues to keep things clean with a limited use of props. Many cases feature colorful glass bottles (fitting the stories). Mary explains that each one must serve a purpose first. "The bottles have been a part of my props from the very beginning, just because of color," she said. "But, what’s going to allow me the most height? Is it something I can drape or wrap a necklace on? I love the color and the romance and texture, but I look to maximize the real estate."

Everything—including props—must serve the jewelry. Here, green glass bottles and green paper accent peridot and other green jewelry.

After the sale, Mary has found a great way to distinguish herself from local competitors—gift-wrapping. "One thing we’re known for is our packaging and branding." A big fan of printing her logo on earring cards and boxes, she remembers a year they ran out before Christmas. "It felt so weird not having our name on our boxes. People know that they can come in and have their purchases gift-wrapped. I don’t know many stores that do it. It’s expensive, but it gets customers' attention."

After 23 years of success, it’s hard to argue with the displays at Ooh! Aah!. There aren’t too many secrets, just simple principles. The key is finding your own brand and style within these guidelines. The fun papers and vintage bottles . . . I knew immediately upon entering the shop what I could expect, and Ooh! Aah! didn’t disappoint. And I just know my wife will love her new birthday earrings later this month!

P.S. For more quotes and tips from the team at Ooh! Aah! Jewelry, make sure to like our Facebook page here. I’ll post extras that didn’t fit here throughout the week and let our fans chime in! And look out soon for a follow-up post on traveling displays for art shows and trunk sales.

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