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Your Store Stinks

How fall cleaning can help

As a former English teacher, I love fall because of the legions of poets the season has inspired through the centuries.

As a Louisianan, I love it because it means a break from the brutal, scorching, humid summers.

As a jeweler, you should be grateful for the opportunity it presents to do some much-needed cleaning, organizing, and freshening before hordes of customers bang down your door on Black Friday.

So where do you start?

Step 1: Wipe the ceilings and the walls

“Seriously, Jennifer?” you’re asking.

Seriously, friends. Cobwebs are only appropriate at Halloween, and even then, not in your store. Buy an inexpensive ceiling broom and start from the center of the ceiling, working your way outward toward the corners. (Note: This will require you to take down the cardboard Cupid you had hanging from the ceiling. Why did you do that again?) Now go down the walls in a continuous pattern, taking care not to miss a spot.

The extra mile: Dilute one part vinegar in four parts distilled water and wipe the baseboards, chair rails, and any smudges on the paint. Warning: Do this the night before to give the vinegar smell time to evaporate.

Now take the light fixtures off the lights and wash well with soapy water (wait for them to cool, of course). Spritz with glass cleaner, dry thoroughly (don’t miss this step or subsequent cleanings will be gross), and reinstall. You’ll wonder how you ever worked in the dark so long. As an added bonus, your jewelry will shine as it should.

The extra mile: Unscrew air vents, wash thoroughly, and remount.

Step 2: Take the blinders off…your nose, that is

Remember those funny air freshener commercials about nose blindness? The ones where the homeowners smell a fluffy kitten and lilacs while their guests smell throngs of cats and funky shoes? Turns out, nose blindness is an actual scientific phenomenon. And the not-so-funny reality is that while we don’t notice the scents we’re around every day, our visitors sure do. Unfortunately for us, they’re far too polite to tell us anything. So you, Dear Retailer, need to find your most brutally honest friend (preferably one with a discriminating beak) who will walk into your store and tell you that last week’s tuna salad sandwich is still permeating the showroom floor and that the carpet you installed five years ago reeks of onion and moth balls.

What do you do if you’re plagued with the pungent egg-salad-onion-moth-ball aroma? You have a few options. First, empty the fridge. Really. You don’t think that the odors from the back office can reach the front of the store, but they absolutely can. Clean the fridge, wash shelves and racks with soap and water, defrost the freezer, and put fresh baking soda in both. While you’re in there, flush all the drains with baking soda and boiling vinegar. You’ll notice a dramatic difference pretty quickly.

You’ve already dusted everything, so now is the time to vacuum. (I don’t care what anyone says: Dust first, vacuum second. Unless your vacuum cleaner was manufactured in or before 1972, it won’t kick up enough dust to justify vacuuming first.) Better still, have the carpets professionally cleaned to remove stubborn odors and deep-set stains. Ideally, you would change your carpet every three years. With high traffic, the pile inevitably wears down and accumulates stains and odors. If you can’t afford to replace the carpet so often, consider moving your cases around to cover the worn, splotchy areas.

Extra mile: If you’re really serious about investing in high-quality flooring, have hardwood installed. But be aware that the upkeep on hardwood is neither cheap nor easy. Or you could consider some fun alternative surfaces like stained concrete. Just watch for slippery floors in rainy weather.

If you have window coverings, take them down and wash them or take them to the dry cleaner. The thicker they are, the more likely they are to absorb odors. Now clean the windows inside and out. Let that golden autumn sun shine in for a bit.

Last, spray some of that air freshener. Find an odor-neutralizing one or at least something subtle rather than something overbearing like cinnamon-vanilla or grape soda (yes, that’s a real thing). Lots of people have fragrance allergies, but even those who don’t won’t necessarily enjoy the cloyingly sweet smells you find on store shelves.

The extra mile: Investigate commercial air fresheners. Some companies will even work with you to create a custom scent. And what better way to brand yourself than with a signature scent? Again, be mindful of fragrance allergies. Consult that bosom buddy with the sensitive schnoz – or several – when selecting your scent.

Step 3: Tackle the cases

Remove the clutter – the daily newspaper, the random loupe, the out-of-date brochures – and toss with abandon (well, maybe not the loupe). Don’t hold back here. If you really can’t part with it, find a logical, permanent home for it that doesn’t cover your $3,000 diamond stud earrings.

With the same vinegar-and-water solution you used on the baseboards, spray the tops of your cases. If you have a lot of real estate, save time by wiping with a squeegee. Wipe any streaks with a cloth diaper (they still make those!). Get the inside of the glass, too. You don’t think about it, but your fingers routinely make smudges when you reach in to set up or take out merchandise. If you have lights inside your cases – and you should – wipe them down with a dry cloth.

The extra mile: Use a cotton swab with that vinegar solution and get corners and inside the tracks of the cases. You’ll be more than a little grossed out by what you find there.

Step 4: Don’t forget what’s in the cases

That’s right – the merchandise. Now’s the time to fill empty holes in your earring displays. Neck form missing a necklace? Replace it! There’s no excuse for glaring holes in your displays. Or holes anywhere in your cases, for that matter.

Look through home design magazines and find inspiration in their decor. Go to a hobby store and put seasonal items inside your cases. Use a large pine cone as a ramp for your tennis bracelet. Spread fall-colored leaves along the baseboards. Do this sparingly and carefully; you don’t want it to look cluttered or haphazard.

Bonus Step: Breathe

You’re getting ready for the busy season that also happens to be cold and flu season. That means it’s imperative to take care of you right now. Stay hydrated and rested. Yes, it’s hard to find time to eat lunch, let alone sleep eight hours a night, but you won’t endear yourself to your customers by sneezing all over your cases. Besides, you just cleaned them…

What are you doing to prepare for the holidays? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.



Jennifer Bullock

I've been with Stuller since 2011 • LSU grad. Geaux, Tigers! • Taught high school English and history for six years • Get lost everywhere I go. Everywhere. • Best vacation ever: Austria • Life-long goal is to visit every continent.