Jewelry Trunk Show – a Niche Almost Missed

by Laura Christensen Wells.
A trunk show was the farthest thing from my mind.

I was pounding the pavement looking for stores to take my jewelry on consignment, with my best work in tow. Joining me were my 10-month-old baby girl and my good friend Elaine to watch her while I visited each shop.

As the day wore on, my optimism was quickly dwindling. I know many of you know how this feels. Each shop is like a job interview.

Native Jewel Necklace by Laura Christensen Wells.

Native Jewel Necklace
by Laura Christensen Wells.

I was striking out this day and feeling pretty low when we approached a women’s second-time-around clothing consignment shop. This was the kind of place where shoppers are looking for that “special” deal, so I convinced myself it wasn’t right for my jewelry.

I immediately chose to pass by this shop, but Elaine urged me to try every venue. So I walked up to the bustling counter and asked to speak with the owner.

It turned out the shop was owned by an outgoing mother-daughter team and they were ecstatic about my jewelry! The only problem was that they didn’t think they could sell it for the prices I was asking.

I was almost ready to turn around and walk out, when one of them piped up, “What are you doing this Saturday?”

It turned out that they were having a Customer Appreciation Day with food, massages, makeovers, etc.

“Why don’t you set up a table in front and see what happens?” they invited. And so we agreed to a trunk show.

The response was wonderful that Saturday, and the benefits were mutual. I enjoyed selling jewelry to some of their regular customers, while the pretty table I set up in front brought new customers to the shop who would not normally have visited there.

Orange Blossom Carnelian copper ring by Laura Christensen Wells.

Orange Blossom Carnelian copper ring
by Laura Christensen Wells.

When I sold an item, I would write the customer a receipt which they paid at the register inside. In many cases I saw buyer walk out of the shop later with additional clothing purchases, and the shop owners noticed this too.

In addition to adding new names to my mailing list, I passed out website address cards which later increased my website traffic. At the end of the day, the shop took a commission of only 10 percent of my sales. I am finding this low percentage to be a rarity.

They invited me back to set up another trunk show in front of the shop during a popular street fair. This turned into an even better opportunity than my first trunk show with this shop.

At the street fair I enjoyed the same exposure that other jewelry artists were getting, but without having to pay the booth price.

I made three times as much money as I made at my last trunk show, and this time the owners took their 10 percent commission in jewelry.

I now have an open invitation to come back and do a trunk show for any occasion like this where we can both benefit.

So please don’t pass up those unlikely opportunities like I almost did. As designers and artists we need to keep thinking outside the box in all aspects of the jewelry business.

Thank you, Elaine, for not letting me miss this niche!


Author Laura Christensen Wells of Christensen Studio enjoys working with the ancient media of handcrafting glass beads and enameling objects in her Berkeley, California studio. Her jewelry is influenced by life experience, her Native Alaskan background, and travels to Italy and Australia. She also has a degree in environmental design and many years’ experience as an architectural designer.

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