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Here Are the Leadership Decisions Jewelers Are Proudest of During the COVID-19 Pandemic

From customer safety to employees working from home, jewelry retailers are doing their best to address the outbreak wisely.

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WE ASKED OUR Brain Squad survey group to tell us what they think their best decision as a manager/leader has been so far during the COVID-19 crisis. The most commonly cited answers were remaining calm, making shopping safe for clients in some form or fashion, and reassuring staff or giving them permission to work from home. Here is a selection of responses.

  • Training the staff on how to work on our website, social, and email programs from home. Having them all put Skype on their phones so we can have meetings remotely. — Jon Bumann, Chalmers Jewelers, Middleton, WI
  • My meeting this morning with management, actually looking at all of the facts about the virus and putting a plan into place is setting my mind at ease. I wish it was the big stuff that stressed me out, not the little [stuff]. We can handle this. — Evan Duke, Classic Creations in Diamonds & Gold, Venice, FL
  • Constant communication and meeting with staff. Constant monitoring of the overall situation. Communicating with our customers. The concern is that customers will now buy as much as possible through the Internet and quicken the demise of the family jewelry store. — James Gattas, James Gattas Jewelers, Memphis, TN
  • Listening to our Pennsylvania state mandate and closing for two weeks. It’s what’s best for the greater good, and I’m making the best of it. I am a one-woman show, so for once I’m glad I don’t have employees. I plan to use the time for much needed catch up on jobs, update my website, create stock pieces. I easily have two weeks worth of catch-up work I’ve been meaning to do. — Chrissy Cook, MADE Jewelry Boutique & Studio, West Reading, PA
  • Not crying in front of my employees or the few customers who have visited the store. The big decision is coming and my stomach is in knots, and I am praying for guidance and wisdom and protection. — Maria Aguirre, Benold’s Jewelers, Austin, TX
  • Not displaying jewelry. A lot of our customers have been really understanding about the situation and it limits our direct interaction with customers. — Wadeana Beveridge, Community Jewelry, Brandon, FL
  • Last week, I worked my shop alone (husband and dog there for security) as my staff were too nervous about the potential exposure to the virus. I had hoped to stay open through the weekend, but decided it was time to close the shop for a couple of weeks for the greater good of our community. I decided to pay the staff (two members) their full salary during the closure. I sent out emails to all our customers who still had work in the pick-up box and special orders underway. I locked the door and posted a sign that we were open for pick-ups only and special orders underway. Everyone was thankful for the initiative we were taking. A few customers who came to get their jewelry purchased additional pieces. Two days later, San Francisco was shut down, requiring shelter in place with only essential business allowed to operate. — Betsy Barron, Love & Luxe, San Francisco, CA
  • Letting the staff know that they are most important and allowing flexible schedules and working from home. — Dianna Rae High, Dianna Rae Jewelry, Lafayette, LA
  • Just letting our staff be aware that working together, we can get through this situation, and that we have a “rainy day” fund that is prepared to make sure everyone will continue to get paid. — Kevin Kelly, Kevin Kelly Jewelers, Peoria, IL
  • Stay calm. As Churchill taught us, “When you are going through Hell, keep going!” That has hung on my desk for more than 30 years. Jo Goralski, The Jewelry Mechanic, Oconomowoc, WI
  • Closing down. 85 percent of our staff is 65+… it’s not worth their health. But I’m sitting down for my first (of multiple) appointments of the day via video chat! — Rachel Howard, Star Jewelers On High, Columbus, OH
  • I’m increasing my outreach via email and social media to 1)remind people I’m here, 2)keep them close, 3)hope to sell a piece of jewelry, redesign, etc. — Laura Stanley, Laura Stanley Personal Jeweler, North Little Rock, AR
  • I had a planned closure on the schedule for months in order to travel back to Montana to pick up cases and fixtures that were custom-made and come back and complete the interior design upgrades. I shortened my trip, but am on schedule for the installation. I was to be open by appointment during this time, so I’ll stick to my plans, but my neighborhood is a ghost town. I will be doing a gift-card special and also promote the “new collection in progress”. I’m thinking about offering a “pre-sale” ahead of the launch of the spring collection. I’ll also use this time to up my social media game. — Ellie Thompson, Ellie Thompson + Co., Chicago, IL
  • Sadly, it would be staying away, as I have a comprised immune system due to leukemia. I have a great staff taking care of things for me. I will be in and out a little, but will not be full time as usual. If one of them gets it — or any of their kids — I will certainly jump back in as needed. — Tom R. Nelson, Nelson Jewelry, Spencer, IA
  • We are closing and going “appointment only” for two weeks. We had a vacation scheduled for March 22-30. Since we wont be traveling, we will continue to meet clients and accommodate their schedules as best possible. I plan to personally deliver repairs and projects if necessary. We want all our clients to know we take the custody of their items very seriously and we will accommodate their needs any way possible. Mark Snyder, Snyder Jewelers, Weymouth, MA
  • Simply finding small things to make everyone smile as I can. Humor, small treats. Little things can lighten a day. — Kim Hatchell, Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC

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

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