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Independent Jewelers Embrace the Allure of the Small Store Model

by Madonna

In the realm of independent jewelers, it seems that modesty often takes precedence over grandiosity, as revealed by the 2023 INSTORE Big Survey. More than half of the respondents expressed their desire for nothing more than a “small store with lots of personality.” This sentiment far outweighed the aspiration for owning a “Big destination store” or even a “Moderately sized store,” and stood in stark contrast to the relatively rare desire to establish a “Chain of stores.”

The appeal of a cozy, personalized store was succinctly captured by one respondent who said, “I like what I have — a small store with great customers and no drama.” Another echoed this sentiment, alluding to the challenge of finding employees who shared their vision, stating, “I have a store with a lot of personality; we offer custom and carry unusual as well as classic styles. I want employees who buy into our culture and are passionate about this business.”


Remarkably, the proportion of store owners content with maintaining a small-scale operation appears to be on the rise. In a previous inquiry conducted in 2014, 28% of jewelers aimed for the establishment of a big destination store, a number significantly higher than the 21% who expressed that aspiration in 2023. Furthermore, in 2014, only 45% of respondents desired a small store, compared to 54% this year.


There were also those jewelers whose dreams diverged from the traditional brick-and-mortar model. A select few expressed a desire to work exclusively online or by appointment, prioritizing flexibility and catering to a niche clientele of serious customers. Some respondents simply craved “a successful store,” while a handful shared the sentiment of a jeweler who proclaimed, “I’m done. I want to retire.”


This collective voice of independent jewelers underscores the charm of the small, customer-centric store model, where a genuine connection with patrons and a distinct sense of character often eclipse the allure of grandeur and expansion.


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