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Competition Is Absolutely Everywhere Now — and I Refuse to Be a Casualty

“Change I must, or die I will,” says store-owner Steve Boudreau.




This is one of four honorable mention winners in INSTORE’s essay contest. Nearly two dozen jewelry professionals submitted essays in response to the prompt, “What do you see as the strongest competitive threat to your business in 2018, and what specific actions are you taking to address it?”

I STARTED in the retail jewelry business in the late 70s. Only IBM and the government had computers, a smartphone was one we could place on hold and “Amazon” was still a forest in Brazil.

I have been very successful from day one. From the late 70s to the early 2000s as an independent jewelry store owner, I weathered and accepted many changes: recessions, multiple chain stores, economic upturns/downturns, big box retailers, trends, gimmicks and technical advances.

In 2001, I noticed that the marketplace began to really change. Having a cell phone became a necessity, everyone seemed to have a computer at home and “The Web” was becoming part of our day-to-day reality. In 2007, the introduction of the smartphone was a harbinger of what has become retail reality today.

Competition is no longer in the same zip code. Last year, shoppers broke sales records by spending nearly $7 billion in online purchases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone.

“Competition” in now in the palm of everyone’s hand – it can deliver (on demand) everything from shoes to music, groceries to books. Online-only businesses are now a reality and in some cases, crushing traditional retail. Retail jewelry stores are directly affected by these changes. The decision to either become a statistic (casualty) or to change and thrive is thoroughly up to me.


How is Boudreau Jewelers & Gallery going to meet and overcome the challenges?

We are going to continue a massive digital presence. Social Media, search and “digital assets” are here to stay. All of this is now part of your business.

  • Google. If you aren’t here, you aren’t anywhere. You don’t exist. “Search” is the new salesperson.
  • Social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are “must haves.” We will tell our story, show our products and dominate in this arena.
  • Review sites. This has become the new “word of mouth.” We will encourage it, solicit it and learn from it.

We are going to change the look and feel of our retail location. Apple and Nike “figured it out” – and so have we.

  • We will become “Instagram-worthy”
  • Our jewelry is no longer the only “wow” Factor – our physical store will look hip, hot and happening.

We are going to change the experience of jewelry purchasing. We will elevate the customer experience via superior quality products and build closer relationships with consumers so we can confidently deliver what jewelry shoppers want when they want it.

  • We are going to offer omni-channel options to make shopping easy, convenient and immediate. Marketing and purchasing are no longer linear – everything is on-demand. We will be ready when they are!
  • “Buy online, pick up in-store.” Yes! We can do that. Nothing can ever take the place of holding a ring or bracelet in your hand, but a “pre-sale” element must be implemented today.

“Change I must, or die I will.”



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