Tourist destinations are having their Christmas right now. Beach locations are doing just fine. But nearly all other small businesses in the fashion industry are in the summer doldrums. Well here’s an idea that can get you excited! A travel down some trails of niche markets can open opportunities never explored before. This can get some creative engines humming. And the result is new energy to lift those summer sales figures.
What do we mean by niche markets? When we talk about fashion jewelry, we are talking about a broad market. A market so broad that many retailers may think the fashion jewelry market isn’t any good anymore. But when you ask what about glass jewelry, or fleur-de-lis jewelry, or gemstone jewelry, or theme pendants—the answer will be this one is good or that one, or maybe all of them. They are all niche markets—small markets under the larger umbrella of fashion jewelry.
Next let’s imagine we have a booth at a flea market or festival and we are going to load the booth with one type of item—one niche market. When you look at successful booths at flea markets, festivals, or similar summer events, that what they do—they make a statement with one niche market.
In accessories, theme neckties are a niche market. I have seen shops built entirely on this product. The whole shop is theme neckties. There is no question that women have a ton of ways to express themselves with jewelry and accessories. But if guys want to broadcast their interests, they are pretty much limited to ball caps and tee shirts. What about all the guys that are not tee-shirt/ball-cap type of guys? What about the guy that has to put on a suit for his job everyday? Or what about gifts for these guys?
Anyone that remembers Christmas in the sixties knows the stereotype gift for Dad was a tie. Maybe all those electronic gadgets and tools advertised on TV have stolen the show at Christmas, but now there’s a new twist to the necktie business—theme ties. And this gets to the point of how guys can express their interests.
Novelty ties cover a range of themes including occupations, sports, recreation, pets, gaming, and local themes. But some ties on the site have their own category and that is because they are particularly strong. These include American flag ties, religious ties, Masonic ties, and solid color ties.
The first three groups are important for convention vendors. Every year there’s tons of conventions for veterans, churches, and Masonic organizations. Ties in theses themes move in quantity. Gift shops also benefit in any city that is a convention destination. Gift shops in cities that the convention goers hail from benefit as well. And that booth or shop specializing in neckties will always sell a fair share of these themes.
The final category—solid color ties—suits many organizations, special events, schools, and work uniforms. Visit the mall and you will see how scarce solid color ties are. The people needing ties in certain colors have no choice. It’s a need.
If I were setting up the booth, gemstone jewelry would be my product. Gemstone has everything—color, unique banding and inclusions, design, and stories to tell. Someone’s objection might be gemstone peaked a few years ago. My answer is gemstone is timeless. It was here before it was a rage and it is still in the showcases of upscale department stores like Dillard’s and Macy’s after the rage.
A booth of this stuff will show color for every outfit and every possible design from small heart necklaces for younger shoppers to statement pieces for the fashionable. Gemstone has an intrinsic value the customer recognizes even though wholesale gemstone jewelry has pricing comparable to fashion jewelry.
Agates, jasper, carnelian, tiger’s eye, rose quartz, coral, turquoise—a booth can show 50 to 100 different stones made into jewelry and each one has story with it. Especially at indoor shows, the customer can touch the semi precious jewelry and experience its cold feel. Jasper, agate, and stones in the quartz family are mostly 7 on the Mohs scale, which means they are harder than glass or steel. You won’t scratch them with a knife.
A loop or magnifying glass lets shoppers see the inclusions in semi precious stones like carnelian, rose quartz, aventurine, or rutilated quartz. The inclusions are unique to each piece and will fascinate your customer. Banding in agate or carnelian adds another interesting feature.
Stones like amethyst that shoppers thought would cost a fortune are available in bracelets and large statement necklaces that can be retailer under $20. A booth full of semi precious jewelry will draw customers like a museum exhibit. And people in your booth are sure to draw even more people.
The most practical accessory at hot outdoor events is hats. People just can’t walk by hats. They have to stop and try them on. Some can wear a hat so naturally while others are self conscious about whether it looks good. Have a variety and help the customer, encouraging them when the hat suits them.
Hats have something for every age group. Younger shoppers are into fedoras, cabbies, duckbills, and ball caps. The fashionable ladies like wide brims and kettle shapes with a brim flipped up all the way around.
Guys like fedoras also. Straw gamblers and safari hats are popular with them and we can’t forget cowboy hats that are timeless headwear.
In cowboy hats, distressed coloring has been a leading choice for the last several years. These are hats in natural straw color with darker staining that looks like the hat has been well-worn with perspiration marks. Natural straws are equally as good. These hats can have shapeable brims and a country look that goes great with a pickup truck or day at the beach.
Color is good also, especially white, black, or brown cowboy hats. For cowgirls, fashion colors have really taken off this year and last—colors like hot pink, lime, orange, yellow, and red. Yes, cowgirl hats in these colors.
Hats are not only an accessory for expressing personality and looking good; they are practical relief in the beating sun. This is a great niche market in accessories.
Anyone that attends many festivals, swap meets, or craft shows has seen booths full of glass jewelry. And they don’t give it away. No, glass jewelry usually commands a high retail price, especially if the booth owner is making some of the pieces. When the artist is working glass into a design with a torch, it is mesmerizing. But not everyone has that talent.
Even without the artist and torch, a booth of glass jewelry is certain to attract attention. For one thing, fashion jewelry in recent years seems to be void of color. Bright colors that are in the seasons’ fashion palettes are hard to find in fashion jewelry.
Glass jewelry can fill the color niche very nicely. Every color on the palette is available in glass jewelry and plenty of other colors as well. Gorgeous designs in multicolor cover all bases and provide fun jewelry, especially in the summer.
Glass jewelry also has stories to tell. The artistic center for creative glass work is Murano Italy. Through the centuries, they have created Murano glass with suspended designs like clouds of color or islands of glimmering metal particles. These glass creations are mesmerizing.
Millefiori also hails from Murano Italy. It means “thousand flowers” and the glass is created by melting glass rods in different colors together and then slicing them. The surface looks like numerous tiny flowers.
There is more. Lampwork beads come from the area also. Using a flame, melted glass creates designs in color and shapes adhering to the outside of a bead. These beads make intriguing bracelets and necklace sets.
Like gemstone, glass jewelry is full of interesting variety, color, and stories to tell.
PUTTING NICHE MARKETS TOGETHER IN A STORE
How do you translate the idea of niche markets to your store without losing the punch? Borrow a page from upscale department stores. Look at their showcases. They take one designer and dedicate a space to their jewelry with some information about the artist. It makes a statement that draws attention.
Take a few niche markets and concentrate an area for each. Add some information and decoration to tell a story. This can be a powerful presentation that will intrigue your customers. Maybe the niche markets we covered are not for you, but the idea can get creativity flowing to find the right idea.