A Personal Touch
Maren Burchette invites customers to a new, personalized level of shopping
By MARY ANN MANNING >> Photos by CHELSEY CARICO
Friendly sales team members greet visitors to Maren’s PANDORA and More, a unique jewelry boutique tucked into a small storefront in the Pinecrest Plaza. Inside this bright, trendy space, customers can browse among artistically arranged displays of jewelry, purses and handmade products, many of which bear the “made in U.S.A.” label.
Little touches like a hand-written thank you note following a sale, a beautifully wrapped and tied gift box, or a glass of local beer or wine for a customer who is waiting for his gift to be wrapped are all part of the store experience.
Store namesake and vice president Maren B. Burchette and her seven sales team members take pride in providing excellent, personalized customer service. Maren is quick to credit her team with the store’s success, which she says is achieved through a sales philosophy known as “clienteling.” She explained that clienteling involves getting to know customers on a personal level, in order to help them find the exact product they desire.
“We listen a lot,” Maren noted. “When someone walks into our store, we never ask ‘How can I help you?’ Instead, we ask ‘What brings you out today?’ or ‘What is the occasion?’ We hear amazing stories from our customers. This is what allows us to find the perfect gift for our guests.”
The PANDORA line of jewelry and beads anchors the store. These popular hand-finished beads, rings, necklaces and bracelets, the product of a Denmark-based company, are designed to be mixed and matched to create a combination to suit any taste and style.
“Some people dedicate their jewelry to their faith, their families, their hobbies,” Maren noted. “Mommies carry little things that represent their families. What sets PANDORA apart is no two pieces are alike.”
Although the store’s square footage is small, they pack a lot of inventory into the space. Maren’s PANDORA and More carries every piece PANDORA makes. Special orders have a 24-hour turnaround.
Numerous other artisan brands round out the merchandise. These include John Medeiros handcrafted jewelry from Rhode Island, and Lizzy James artisan jewelry and wrap bracelets. California-based Gorjana’s line is on display. Gorjana’s offerings include blessed jewelry; each piece is individually blessed before it is sent to retail stores.
Sitting prominently on a table is a selection of Ben’s Garden merchandise. These unusual decoupage plates, paperweights and coasters are the creation of New York City artist Ben Busko. Each Ben’s Garden item is individually signed by the artist.
Part of the store’s appeal lies in its displays. Unlike more traditional jewelry stores, there are fewer glass-enclosed display cases. This is by design to allow customers to see and feel the merchandise.
Maren’s PANDORA and More carries brands that reflect changing jewelry trends. People are moving away from expensive, one-of-a-kind pieces that are handed down through generations and are gravitating to high-quality, affordable jewelry that can be worn every day. To illustrate, Maren said you can wear beautiful crystal earrings with a white tee-shirt. Or you can layer several necklaces or bracelets together.
Maren’s PANDORA and More’s merchandise meets these changing expectations with pieces that are both pretty and timeless. Prices start at around $40 and rise as high as your imagination (and your budget) allow.
“This is really affordable jewelry. You can buy a piece to match your outfit and two weeks later, you can buy another piece,” Maren said.
Nature-inspired jewelry is also trending now. Flowers, sun and moon designs, bees and butterflies are prominently featured across brands.
“Flowers are always big in spring, but the nature element hasn’t been in jewelry for a long time,” Maren said.
Trends in metal are changing too, with gold replacing silver and white gold as the metal of choice. Rose gold is especially sought after.
Maren is humble about her role in the success of the store, giving credit to her team. Yet in her own right, she is very experienced in the jewelry field. Prior to being called to Southern Pines two years ago, she worked for PANDORA for 10 years.
Of her career choice, she says, “I really, really love jewelry and that is my passion here. And I love people.”
With its selection of stylish, trendy and modern jewelry and accessories, and a friendly, attentive sales staff, this small and welcoming store reflects that passion. 34 Pinecrest Plaza, Southern Pines, 910-246-2733.