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Editor's Note

Considering a Big Risk? Make Sure It’s Personally Rewarding

Those are the gambles most likely to pay off.

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IN THE PAST, the prevailing business wisdom was that risk-taking should leverage new technologies, evolving consumer preferences or organizational assets. One aspect that experts rarely, if ever, advised business owners to consider was the personal vision and strengths of the owners themselves. Yet that’s what many retail jewelry store owners are now using as the driving factor behind their big business risks.

This issue’s lead story examines the motivations (and results) behind the gambles taken by several store owners. One, executed by the husband-and-wife team of Steve and Melissa Quick, shrunk a three-store Chicago chain to a single store based on a desire for more “authenticity,” which translated into more product with stories they believed in, as well as more face time with customers. Another, a cross-country venture that required Pennsylvania store owner Cathy Calhoun to split time in Carmel, CA, was simply a result of the owner’s desire to live and work in that state. In the case of Leitzel’s Jewelry, the decision was made to open another location in a nearby market largely based on family dynamics.

Because independent jewelry stores are generally “family-owned” by a few people at most, it only makes sense that the biggest risks taken by these businesses should consider the personal vision of ownership as a primary factor.

What dreams have you been putting off? Now may be the perfect time to take that leap.

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
[email protected]

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Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  1. Encourage word-of-mouth with a sign near your exit that reads, “Don’t forget to tell your friends about us!” (Manager’s To-Do, p. 30)
  2. Invite your customers to an “Appraisal Clinic” at your store, reminding them that insurance typically pays the most recent appraisal value. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 30)
  3. When taking a big risk, let staff know what’s going on, but don’t let them change your vision to suit their own preferences. (The Big Story, p. 38)
  4. Form a jewelry book club that meets every other month. (Tip Sheet, p. 52)
  5. Charge at least $100 for initial consultations on custom design, which can be applied to the finished piece. (Evan James Deutsch, p. 60)

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].

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For 25 years, Stafford Jewelers of Cincinnati, Ohio, was THE place to go for special gifts, engagement diamonds, high-end Swiss watch brands — in other words, the crème de la crème of fine jewelry. But this summer, the Stafford family was ready to retire. So, they chose Wilkerson to help them close up shop. “One of the biggest concerns was having the sale in the middle of COVID,” says Director of Stores Michelle Randle. Wilkerson gave the Stafford team plenty of ideas as well as safety guidelines, which they closely followed. “All of the employees felt safe, the customers coming in the door felt safe and we did a lot of business,” says Randle. How much business? “The inventory flew,” she says. Translation: They sold millions and millions of dollars-worth of merchandise. Randle calls it, “an incredible experience.” Would she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers who are thinking of thinning their inventories or retiring? “Everyone got more than what they expected out of the sale. You have to hire Wilkerson. They’re amazing.”

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