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Commentary: The Business

Here’s Why Smiling With Your Eyes Can Make All The Difference

Retailer John Carter says jewelers are needed now more than ever.

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REMEMBER WHEN THE biggest issue facing our industry was how we would all handle the emergence, selling, and disclosure of laboratory-grown diamonds? Ah, those were simpler times — and it was only a few months ago!

What would you do to go back to those days where we had just a few issues on our plate? While those were, and continue to be, serious things to address, the times have changed and so has our perspective. That small plate of consequential matters has grown to a smorgasbord of challenges and potential pitfalls. We could all choose to throw up our hands and just give up, but my advice to you is to just keep smiling.

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I am a social person by nature. Hugging, laughing, and joking is how I communicate. This confinement has been hard on extroverts.

I was wearing a mask in the grocery store yesterday, and when an associate (also wearing a mask) had finished helping me, I responded how I normally would to show gratitude … I smiled. Through a mask. Like a dope. I just sat there with my secret smile, expecting him to know I was grateful. I walked to my car shaking my head, realizing that our communication is going to look very different in the coming months.

This morning, I had the honor of serving as a panelist on an international conversation hosted by CIBJO (sorry, America, that I was chosen to represent you), and an Italian gentleman, Steven Tranquilli, said something very profound that struck a cord with me. He said, “We must now learn to smile with our eyes.”

I grew up in this industry forming personal bonds with my clients and friends by helping them celebrate happy occasions, and those “transactions” almost always end with a hug (I’m a hugger). The near future looks a little different, as our connections will be happening virtually, through plexiglass, face shields, and masks, but we are still here to help them celebrate happy occasions.

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Happy occasions, you say? Yes, here is a newsflash: In the past few months, your clients have still had happy occasions. Sure, some celebrations were postponed and plans were changed, but they had birthdays, anniversaries, and reasons to celebrate the beauty that is their life.

Celebratory trips have been canceled, and for the first time ever, we are not competing with the travel industry as a means of celebration. This is an opportunity for the jewelry industry. When you are lucky enough to open your doors again, they will be there to see you.

Be ready to serve them with the same passion you had before. We are jewelers. We are a part of their lives and have been for generations. They want to see your face (covered though it may be) and receive a social distance air hug from you.

Smile with your eyes, and be ready, once again, to light up their eyes with your beautiful jewelry.

John Carter is the owner of Jack Lewis Jewelers in Bloomington, IL, and outgoing president of the American Gem Society.

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Going Out of Business Is an Emotional Journey. Wilkerson Is There to Make It Easier.

Jaki Cowan, the owner of Sollberger’s in Ridgeland, MS, decided the time was right to close up shop. The experience, she says, was like going into the great unknown. There were so many questions about the way to handle the store’s going-out-of-business sale. Luckily for Cowan, Wilkerson made the transition easier and managed everything, from marketing to markdowns.

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Wilkerson even had a plan to manage things while Covid-19 restrictions were still in place. This included limiting the number of shoppers, masking and taking temperatures upon entrance. “We did everything we could to make the staff and public feel as safe as possible.”

Does she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers thinking of retiring, liquidating or selling excess merchandise? Absolutely. “If you are considering going out of business, it’s obviously an emotional journey. But truly rest assured that you’re in good hands with Wilkerson.”

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