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How Our Brain Squad Is Dealing with the Economic Effects of the Pandemic As A Business

Staying positive, joining webinars and lots of praying…




  • By taking lots of deep, cleansing breaths and praying — lots of praying. Because my sons and I all work together, I am trying my best not to let fear of the unknown overcome me. And, as this is happening during my last four months serving as a member of our city council, I feel like the weight of all of our local businesses is on my shoulders as well. Extremely worried about what this is going to mean to our local economy, not just my store. — Jane Johnson, RM Johnson & Sons, Salem, VA
  • Terrified to open emails and look at my bank account. Denial seems like the best approach. But actually still responding to emails and design custom as much as we can during this shutdown. — Rachel Pfeiffer, Lane & Kate, Cincinnati, OH
  • We have been “locked down” for over two weeks. At first it gave me time to catch up on custom work and repairs. This felt good, still felt productive! Looking forward, we are creating as much as possible with the supplies on hand, hopeful to re-open with a bang! Kind of a roller coaster of hopeful and scared! This has brought out the creative side of our team, each and every one brainstorming ways to stay afloat! — Linda McEathron, Design House, Waco, TX
  • We have tried to keep our social media upbeat. We’ve taken at-home videos about the importance of cleaning your jewelry, a fun scavenger hunt with kids about the color of gemstones and taking photos and documenting your jewelry. — Shannon Akridge, Clater Jewelers Diamond Center, Louisville, KY
  • Our store is closed. However, we are cleaning and reading all of INSTORE’s old magazines. — Barry Fixler, Barry’s Estate Jewelry, Bardonia, NY
  • We tried generating business online. It was an outsized amount of effort, and we have no salespeople or support staff. And with increasingly bad news, a significant number decided not to purchase. In the end, we stopped trying. — Debbie Fox, Fox Fine Jewelry, Ventura, CA
  • Following the advice of Ben Smithee, from his excellent webinar, which was a) this isn’t the time to go dark — make connections and resonate with your clients; and b) think of my business as a Netflix channel. I’ve avoided doing videos, but the two we’ve done so far have been well received. — Sandra Locken, Sarini Fine Jewellery, Vulcan, AB
  • We are doing webinars and trying to do at-home videos to stay in touch with customers. Gearing up for Mother’s Day however it will be celebrated. — Karen Hollis, K. Hollis Jewelers, Batavia, IL
  • Keeping everyone employed except those that left out of fear. We’re staying very busy keeping our people employed. They are studying the industry and we will be better when we get through this. — Chip Kuntz, Chippers Jewelry, Bonney, WA
  • The day we closed was sad!! March 6 is the first time ever in 70 years we’re shut down. Our staff is scared; some have been with us for 30 years. Some cried and are worried about their job, health insurance, you name it. My husband, the boss and mentor, assured them their jobs will be there for them. He is 81 and a great jeweler! Pray for our business and the jewelry industry! — Teddie Gause, Gause and Son Jewelers, Ocala, FL
  • We had to close halfway through March and can’t reopen until early May. Altogether, we will be closed six weeks. I have laid off staff and I am personally handling any virtual clients. We do not do any online business, but in the past, we have done some eBay. I am planning to revisit using eBay again. — Eric Stevens, Stevens Diamond Jewelers, West Springfield, MA
  • Managing as best we can. Closed our physical store; only have our pawn portion open a limited number of days. We’ve all become fanatics when it comes to disinfecting, wiping down keyboards, door handles, and hand washing. — David Abrams, Grand Jewelers, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • We are focusing our efforts on maximizing our e-commerce potential on, pursuing SBA options, taking a hard look at expenses, working on sales training and outreach through handwritten notes and social media that is not tone-deaf to what is going on. — Sean Dunn, J.R. Dunn Jewelers, Lighthouse Point, FL
  • Trying to keep positive. I have been complaining for years that I don’t have time to work on this project or that project. Well now I do! So I’d better set up a schedule and get to work. Oh and here is an idea … I can call my customers to check on them, and when appropriate, offer retail therapy they can’t refuse. — Annette Evans, RD Allen Freeport Jewelers, Freeport, ME
  • Extremely difficult to operate, can’t see clients, and cannot sell anything. Basically, we are shut down, so we are trying to stay positive. We keep posting online, but it’s tough out there. — Garry Zimmerman, Windy City Diamonds, Chicago, IL
  • Using the in-store downtime to catch up on projects I’ve put off for far too long! Finish my new standalone website. I’ve been accepted to Handmade at Amazon — need to figure that out and get started! Shooting and editing photography of the scores of items I’ve made in the past six months. Making inventory. (I’m still receiving some orders from Etsy, so keeping up with that, too.) I feel like I’m going to come out the other side of this ahead of the game and ready to hit the ground running! — Janne Etz, Contemporary Concepts, Cocoa, FL
  • Furloughed all employees and helped the signup for unemployment for the month of April. Plan to hire them back May 1st and use the CARES Act to pay them for May and June. Hope all is better by June 1st. — Greg Tidwell, Bell Jewelers, Murfreesboro, TN
  • We are closed to the public. We are making deliveries to people’s houses (if GrubHub can do it, why not). People are paranoid that they will not get their jewelry back. Some are oblivious to the closures and call. We are paying our staff full salaries (vacation pay) through all of this. I have learned how to save money all the time, so we are in a very good financial position. That being said, the sales staff is tasked with learning the pearls as one course, (imperial Pearl, wonderful), Tissot training, GIA training and the AGS courses. So they better come back with a boatload of certificates!! — Karen Fitzpatrick, Harris Jewelers, Rio Rancho, NM
  • Closed since March 23, 2020. I am still at work every day, by myself, all employees are home, some working from home. Thankfully as the owner and founder of my 26 year-old store, I can do every job here. So I am finishing custom jobs, doing repairs, webinars, Quickbooks, payroll, reaching out to customers, posting on social media, answering phone calls, being in my store in case a customer has a jewelry emergency, etc. No shortage of things to do for me! — Pamela Rossi, PJ Rossi Jewelers, Lauderdale by the Sea, FL
  • Trying to stay positive. Watching webinars, finished my pearl certification, talking to my friends in the Texas Jewelers Association. Bringing work home to better organize my projects that I haven’t had time to do in years. Just about ready to relax and start designing new pieces, which always makes me happy! — Susan Eisen, Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches, El Paso, TX
  • I was lucky in that I had been preparing for slower times due to a lower oil price months ago and preparing for a final divorce settlement. Those made me buy less and reduce debt so that I had a cushion. That cushion has saved me some breathing room. I just didn’t expect the cushion to turn into a survivor pillow fight. — David Blitt, Troy Shoppe Jewellers, Calgary, AB
  • Applied for the PPP loan, no layoffs, trying to send small payment to vendors for good faith, working with the store closed since March 22nd, getting back room tasks completed, some appointment business is yielding a very small cash flow, something is better than nothing. — Don Unwin, Sterling Jewelers, Wethersfield, CT
  • I will be finished all my repairs in a couple of days. That’s the first time in 19 years I have been caught up. I like it and i don’t like it. And my yard has never looked so good. — J Tommy Thobe, The Village Gem, Perry Hall, MD
  • Praying, hoping for economic help, recreating ourselves to be better and stronger afterward. — Jill Keith, Enchanted Jewelry, Danielson, CT
  • We go to work every day so we have some type of normalcy. We started an Etsy store and a Shopify store. We brushed up on our Constant Contact, and we are also participating in all of the free webinars. — Lori Roy, Jozach Jewelers, Claremont, NH
  • Drinking a lot! We are working from home as a team and getting training done, new budgets for operations, inventory and for marketing, touching our customer base. The time off during the shelter in place for the past 10 days have been good in that sense. No revenue and lots of bills suck. — Tom Duma, Thom Duma Fine Jewelers, Warren, OH
  • We really don’t know yet. I have applied for every possible program for help … only thing that has happened to date is Unemployment is processing our applications, the SBA has deferred payments on their portion of our loan, but the bank still expects to be paid. I have spent hours filling out loan, grant, CARES, PPP programs and etc. No one really seems to know what’s going on. — Mark Clodius, Clodius & Co. Jewelers, Rockford, IL
  • In Canada. Have laid off all team members. Trying to gain a strategy on moving forward. Hard when you’re used to a team to work with and now there is no team. Trying to clean up old files. Desks. Attending webinars as much as I can. Reading JHJ posts for insights. Especially security. Reviewed insurance policy. Quotes received for roll down shutters. Lost a few days just trying to gain composure. — Stacey Gelmici-Saunders, Gelmici Jewellers, Edson, AB
  • Having a solid business plan allows for these situations. — Vince Isaacson, Lake Street Diamond Company, Kirkland, WA
  • We thankfully do not owe anyone money, so we will be OK, but we hate that everything has come to a halt and feel sorry for all the businesses (not just jewelry stores) that cannot come back from this economic catastrophe! — Dorothy Retzke, Krystyna’s Jewelry, Chicago, IL
  • Without leadership at the national level and no guidance or direction, it’s impossible to develop a strategic or tactical plan. Very pessimistic about small business sustainability. — William G. Lehnert, Alexander Lehnert, Asheville, NC
  • Working at home, self-isolating. Finally setting and stringing all the things I have bought in the past. I am like a magpie; I have a lot of cool inspirations waiting to be born, this will keep me sane. Plus my husband is my best friend. We have had our own jewelry store for 40-plus years, we know how to live with each other 24/7, plus he can’t fire me, apparently no one else would work for my wages. Laughter is the best medicine, all y’all keep safe. — Christina O’Hara, Blue Mountain Gems, Roanoke, VA

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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