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How Do Jewelers Recharge? Here’s What Our Brain Squad Has to Say

Here are the ways you cope with burn-out.

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Taking a cruise a few years ago was the best way I ever found to unplug. It was the most “off the grid” I can ever remember being. Close your store, put your inventory in a vault offsite (or two), give someone the alarm code and key, arrange with a friend in the trade to deal with any emergency and book a cruise tomorrow! — Mark Snyder, Snyder Jewelers, Weymouth, MA

  • I have two favorite ways to recharge. The first is to get out in nature, leave that phone behind (except for photos) and take it all in: lots of sun, water and quiet. The second way is to go to a big city and connect with friends and jewelry makers. Both methods are tied! — Betsy Barron, Love & Luxe, San Francisco, CA
  • I usually take long weekend trips to the “city,” but after four long years without a long vacation, I am going to Europe for two weeks by myself to just meander, write in my journal, eat and enjoy some wine. — Bill Longnecker, Longnecker Jewelry, McCook, NE
  • My breaks are my trade shows. I get rejuvenated and inspired at them, get new ideas, and let’s face it, a trip to Italy or Hong Kong can take your mind places and you can get rest in a whole different perspective. — Amber Gustafson, Amber’s Designs, Katy, TX
  • Love me some yoga, massages and float tanks (sensory deprivation). — Jen Foster, David Douglas Designs, Marietta, GA
  • Go to watch a Packers game somewhere warm before the holiday season. — John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI
  • Reading books and seeing movies are a good mind-diverting mini-escape. Comedy and laughter helps combat stress. Getting a lot of sleep and tuning out of electronic communication for a day every two weeks are imperatives to stay sane and stay productive. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA
  • Just took a week off, did nothing but sit on a beach or play at the pool. I was ready to get back after three days. — Paul Reiniger, Reiniger Jewelers, Swansea, IL
  • I am the “artist” and master goldsmith. Must be here. So, two things I do: One, take three-day weekends, Sunday to Tuesday, when things are slow. Two, close the store the first week in July. Everyone gets that week off. — Stephen Ware, Ware Designs, Lafayette, CA
  • My best way to recharge would definitely be a mini-vacation with my husband and daughter. Just spending one-on-one time with them gives me a sense of peace and relaxation. — Lacey Fincher, Tena’s Fine Diamonds and Jewelry, Elberton, GA
  • Get far enough away that except for a life or death emergency, if a problem arises, there is not a thing you can do about it. This also speaks to the competency and confidence in your staff, as you have to have policy and procedure in place to deal with unexpected situations. After all, this is not rocket science. — Mark A. Young, Mark A. Young Jewelers, Oxford, MI
  • I retreat to my condo in New Hampshire. It’s quiet and there is limited cell phone service, but I keep in touch because big sales are a huge adrenaline rush!! — Matt Doumato, Ephraim Doumato Jewelers, Greenville, RI
  • When “away” from the business, my wife and I “sloth.” We do zero. We totally relax by not watching news, not reading papers, and generally exiting the real world. The store is only allowed to call if there is truly something that can’t wait. — J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmaker’s Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA
  • I like a quiet break in a remote location. Used to do it without contact, but I find I can stay away longer if I catch up first thing in the morning via email — that way I’m not wondering what’s going on. — Bill Elliott, Ross Elliott Jewelers, Terre Haute, IN
  • A mix is best. But being out of cell phone service causes me too much stress. Time away is key to maintaining mental health, as well as personal relationships … in the end that is really all we have. — Jennifer Farnes, Revolution Jewelry Works, Colorado Spring, CO
  • Quick getaways do not do anything for me. I need 10 days to rejuvenate. — Drew Cowit, Jewelry Design Gallery, Manalapan, NJ
  • Mini-vacations are the best for me: not gone long enough to lose a sale, but out long enough to reset my brain. — Lisa McConnell, Lisa McConnell Design Studio, Fort Worth, TX
  • I’m a self-employed sole proprietor and also a single mom with a teenager and a mother with Alzheimer’s, so money must be made! When I REALLY need some down time, I go to the zoo! — Janne Etz, Contemporary Concepts, Cocoa, FL
  • Short trips, three to four days. I get antsy on longer runs. — Gene Arthur, Arthur’s Jewelry, Reidsville, NC
  • Sometimes just a break in the routine can be a recharge. Whether it is an extra hour of morning sleep on a workday, a coffee break with a friend in the middle of the day, or a slip out early for a glass of wine on Friday afternoon, it can be an escape and glimpse of playing hooky! — Annette Kinzie, Leonard Jewelry, Stillwater, OK
  • I like cities, activities and knowledge — no beach, unless very brief. On the other hand, when I return there will be so much work piled up, not sure if it is worthwhile to get away. I love my work! — Eve J. Alfille, Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio, Evanston, IL
  • The breaks I believe in are anything away from the store where you can create, dream, innovate, and not be interrupted. I could never be unplugged because being plugged in is where I explore and generate new thoughts and come up with crazy ideas and designs. Since jewelry is in my blood, I never want to be totally away from the joy it gives me, whether I’m on vacation or not. — Susan Eisen, Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches, El Paso, TX
  • For the first time in 20 years, we now close Sundays — just a one-day break makes a huge difference with brunch and a drive around the beautiful New Mexico countryside. Holidays are up next!! What’s up with jewelers who feel they have to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week? 364 days a year? Life is short and you will probably shorten it more if you don’t take regular breaks. — Gordon Lawrie, Eidos, Santa Fe, NM
  • ROFL usually my vacations are more stressful than working. — Craig C. Curtis, Belfast Jewelry, Belfast, ME
  • A great vacation would be a weekend, but we don’t get them off either. — T. Julian McGrath, Tipperary at Tara, Brunswick, NY
  • Haven’t been able to afford a vacation or any break in a very long time! The only time I was able to take few days off was 2.5 years ago when my mother passed away in LA. I guess you can consider this a “vacation.” — Saro Abrahamian, Town Jewelers, Chevy Chase, MD
  • Breaks, vacations and getaways are 1000 percent necessary, but when you love your career as much as we do, you’re constantly consciously and subconsciously tuned in to ideas and inspiration that will help improve and grow your business. — Whitney Lang, Burkes Fine Jewelers, Kilmarnock, VA
  • I am not big on breaks. I enjoy my work and don’t understand why others think I need to take a break from something I enjoy. When my wife makes me take such a break, my No. 1 activity is bicycle riding. Not the 10-speed tight pants and stupid-looking helmet type riding, the just me-and-my-single-speed-coaster 1979 Chicago Schwinn and the open road or bike trail. I will often make 25-to 30-mile-day trips and very occasionally up to 50-mile daytrips. — James Sickinger, Sickinger’s Jewelry, Lowell, IN
  • A two-day weekend is a vacation for us. We knew what we were getting into when we opened 12 years ago, I’m just glad to have enough going on that real vacations aren’t an option. If we didn’t, we couldn’t afford to go anywhere anyway. Retirement is coming, then we’ll relax. — David Phelps, Precision Platinum, Durham, NC
  • “Don’t believe in breaks”? Are you serious? Mini-getaways are fine, longer is better. I’m not the reclusive type, so I always want contact with the world when I’m not at the store. — Bradley Ozinsky, Bradley’s Jewelers, Liverpool, NY
  • We close our shop during vacations because if the business is closed, we don’t have to rely on our employees to handle the daily business. We also can relax and not worry about day-to-day occurrences. — Shevvy Baker, SPB Designs, Louisville, KY
  • Vacation time is important. I usually take a number of long weekends at the lake and at least one full week away. Working on taking more two-weekers. Did this for the first time several years ago and need to do more of this after 40 years in the business. — Steve Floyd, Floyd & Green, Aiken, SC
  • I have to be dragged to vacation. That being said, after two days, I never want to come back. We vacay in Mexico and find all these fun street places to eat, but I’d rather be in the store! — Jeff Weintrop, The Silver Lady, University City, MO
  • We close the store for 10 days in early July. Our staff and the ownership all take actual physical vacations, usually trips outside of the state or country. We come back refreshed, happy to see each other and ready to approach our busy winter season. — Jody Bond, Just Gold Jewelers, Stuart, FL
  • About a week or so is perfect. By two weeks, I’m getting anxious to return to the office. At three weeks, I don’t want to ever go back to the office. I’ve never been gone a month, but there’s a good bet that I’d up and move to Bruges, Belgium. — Chuck Kuba, Iowa Diamond, West Des Moines, IA

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.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Buzz Session

Are Well-Researched Customers a Hindrance or an Opportunity? The Brain Squad Sounds Off

Depending on the information, it can be a bit of both.

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  • I welcome my customers to educate themselves! I want them to research, shop other stores, see who they feel gives them the best information, the best customer service and best price. Also, what comes with the purchase? We are a full service jeweler and we do repairs, sizing, etc. Other stores send everything out. People like the idea that we are full service to them and that we don’t charge you for a warranty. — Mary Jo Chanski, Hannoush Jewelers, Rutland, VT
  • We have a higher closing rate on the shoppers that have done the research and have shopped around already. It works out as a better opportunity to close the sale. — Frank Salinardi, Linardi’s Jewelers, Plantation, FL
  • Huge help. It used to take 9-10 hours over a six-week period to sell an engagement ring. I can do it in 20 minutes now. I rarely get to give my 10-minute “4 Cs” spiel. — Steven B. Goldfarb, Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, Bellevue, WA
  • I think it is great. It gives us a good idea of what is popular in the market. — Amanda Lanteigne, Gold-n-Memories, Steinbach, MB
  • Depends. If they are a “know it all” customer, it’s definitely a hindrance. — Alison Sophy, Sophy Jewelers, St. Clair, PA
  • Opportunity to close. When a customer knows what they want, at that point, it is easy to show them how you can meet their needs. — Joel Wiland, J. David’s Jewelry, Broken Arrow, OK
  • I believe that this is both. Hindrance when they have flawed info — not understanding the colors especially. An opportunity to show them in person what they think they have been looking at online. Again, using color as a reference and that some stones may have a body color but face up look better or worse than a stone of same color. — Shari Lewis, Cravens & Lewis Jewelers, Georgetown, KY
  • You have the task of either having the easiest sale or the impossible sale because they are totally confused and truly need help, or they know it all and you are just there to satisfy their decision. The buyer who comes in with all the facts are the greatest danger to themselves because they have set themselves up to be targets of the best storytellers/sellers and seldom are capable of knowing what is the best option for their purchase. — Ed Menk, E.L. Menk Jewelers, Brainerd, MN
  • Love when they think they know… we can play on it for exact design concepts that they already have decided they love and show similar instead of contrasting and then re-educate as needed. But it helps us skip over the confusion of blasting too many ideas at once. — Erika Godfrey, Hawthorne Jewelry, Kearney, NE
  • It can be an opportunity. It is a hindrance, however, if they have a photo of some offshore disposable jewelry piece of poo that they want to know if you can custom-build one for them just like it for less money. They you have to explain that it is illegal to copy a design, and number two, to make one piece is going to be way more expensive than something that has been made in quantities of thousands. — Murphy McMahon, Murphy McMahon & Co., Kalispell, MT
  • It is definitely an opportunity to showcase the benefits of shopping in a “Mom and Pop” store and to remind them that trust is key when making one of the most important decisions you will ever make. — Andrew Russakoff, Russakoff Jewelers, Skowhegan, ME
  • It makes our job much easier when a customer walks in with his phone and says, “This is the ring my fiancée wants.” Nine out of 10 times, we will have the ring to show him, and from there we can move on to showing him loose diamonds. We will then ask a customer if they have done any research about diamonds. If they say yes, we will then go into order of importance of the 4 Cs. The more they know, the better. Sometimes if they come in cold, they will have to think and do research. — Michael’s Jewelers, Yardley, PA
  • Opportunity. Most people now know that everything you read online is not totally true. We have enough examples now of online purchases that were not what they were advertised to be that we can throw some doubt into the minds of the potential online purchaser. If they come into your store, they are obviously not completely sold on the Internet anyway. We embrace it and close a lot of those sales. — Rick Sanders, Sanders Jewelers, Gainesville, FL
  • I have found both sides of the coin. The problem isn’t one of having the research, it is more of getting misinformation and just bad information. That is where it seems the Internet is the source of truth and brick-and-mortar stores are just liars. Just this week, I had to explain to a young guy why the information he received on moissanite was wrong when he was told to look for excellent cut. — David Blitt, Troy Shoppe Jewellers, Calgary, AB
  • The information they know is fine, and sometimes makes the presentations easier. It’s the margins that kill us! — Debbie Fox, Fox Fine Jewelry, Ventura, CA
  • I love it! Informed clients make my job easier! Once I know they are shopping around to other stores, I know exactly what tools to arm them with and educate them. I teach them things like how to use a loupe (if the sales associate at other stores use a loupe wrong, then my client totally knows they don’t know what they are doing). I show them the difference with the loupe of a VS-I1 stone. I take them in all different lights in the store; we even talk about Internet pricing. I believe buying a diamond is just like buying a truck: everyone has that same truck in similar prices, so why not pick the dealership you like and trust? — Stephenie Bjorkman, Sami Fine Jewelry, Fountain Hills, AZ
  • Hindrance. The more research they’ve done, the more difficult to close the sale. They are shopping around, pitting local jewelers against each other. — Jill Hornik, Jae’s Jewelers, Coral Gables, FL
  • It is both. A good deal of the time, the “information” gathered is mostly true or even mostly false. I try to be gentle when correcting misinformation gained online. There have been a couple of instances where I have bowed out of a potential sale because of the “expertise” gained online, but that is the exception. The Internet provides a lot of inspiration for design ideas, which I welcome. When a guy comes in with his phone set to her Pinterest page, it makes finding the right ring pretty dang easy. — Cliff Yankovich, Chimera Design, Lowell, MI

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.

Continue Reading

Buzz Session

Jewelry Store Owners Sound Off On Sexual Harassment, Women’s Rights

Most of the female store owners in our Brain Squad feel our industry still has a ways to go.

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  • I personally have been harassed in a store, and have been slighted many times in the past. I started in this business when women were not working in the jewelry business that much. I actually had one job interview in which an owner asked if I typed. It was his main question about my qualifications and abilities—after I had been in the business 10 years and was half-finished with my gemologist degree. I am so happy every time I go to a show or convention and see the number of young professional women now representing our industry, from sales and management to design and goldsmiths. It is just really encouraging to see how much it has changed from when I started. — Robin L., Wichita, KS
  • It’s still a business FOR women that’s run by men. Yes, not all owners are men. There may not be as much fanny patting behavior as in yesteryear, but a penis is still a good thing to own if you want to be taken seriously as an authority figure or as an expert. — Erin H., Lancaster, PA
  • Yes, I’ve witnessed and been harassed myself. Still lots of old school boys’ club mentality, but I do feel there is a change happening with more second and third generation ownership coming along, as a lot are women! — Nicole S., Whistler, BC
  • Of course I have, like back in the day, working in the finance industry in a professional capacity, and being told that “we don t have a professional pay scale for women, so you will be paid on the clerical scale.” No joke! But in my jewelry career, I used to have the guys in the jewelry buildings look at me with contempt, saying, “ Women can’t be setters” and the like, or refusing to take me seriously and direct me to the services I needed, even though they turned out to be next door! But time has passed, and things are getting better. — Eve A., Evanston, IL
  • I think it is OK as far as the awareness of the modern day. Unfortunately, when you have two sexes working together, you will never, ever completely remove equal rights and “harassment,” as it’s in the human DNA to propagate. — Mark Y., Oxford, MI
  • I think we’re doing great. Never seen it here and we have an all-female staff and goldsmith. — Robert M., Swanswa, MA
  • Everyone is too sensitive these days. I have heard questionable comments from both men and women. How those comments are regarded is based on whether you like the person or not. A handsome young manager makes a slightly suggestive comment to a young female salesperson, and she giggles and moves on. If an overweight manager in his 50s makes the same comment, he’s considered a dirty old man and a complaint is filed. I don’t think it’s an industry problem at all. It exists everywhere as it always has and probably always will. — Rick S., Gainesville, FL
  • In an industry run by men, sexism is inevitable. I think it is best to learn everything you can and work at being the best. Success brings respect. — Dorothy V., Tallahassee, FL
  • We are a small women-owned business with all female employees. It’s a non-issue. I do know of many women who have worked for male-owned companies who have told me horrible stories of being yelled at and emotionally abused. I find this behavior to be unacceptable in any workplace. — Betsy B., San Francisco, CA
  • I’ve witnessed discrimination from customers specifically. I’ve had male customers say inappropriate things to my female staff. I’ve also had customers refuse to work with female staff, asking to talk to the “man in charge” or using disrespectful names like “sweetie.” I’ve never had a female vendor rep visit my store, so I think we’ve got a ways to go. — Chris W., Marquette, MI
  • I think that the advent of more women owning businesses has naturally caused positive change to happen, but of course I’ve seen it happen and had it happen to me. There’s always work to be done, and we all — men and women — need to positively contribute. — Sandra L., Vulcan, AB
  • No problem at work. I find at shows that if my husband (who does not work in the store) is with me, all answers to questions I ask will be directed to him, even though my badge identifies me as the buyer/owner. — Linda B., Shelbyville, TN
  • This industry has inadequate training to be preventative or even proactive after an issue. By and large, the industry and its arbitration systems are set up to stall and delay. — Alan L., Cape May, NJ
  • I worked at Kay Jewelers in the early ‘80s, and sexual harassment was common. You either put up with it or quit. Times have changed, thank God! — Doreen V., Bethlehem, PA
  • My sense is that it’s certainly better than some, especially in smaller companies. However, the Signet case has been eye-opening in a way that illustrates far too many things have not changed at all. Every working woman has had to put up with demeaning comments made simply out of thoughtlessness or lack of awareness, and we still do, but overt discrimination seems to be better. — Georgie G., Palo Alto, CA
  • I’ve been in the industry for 30 years and what (harassment) was done more openly is now done more privately, but it still happens. — Lyla I., Oak Lawn, IL
  • Personally, I have never witnessed it in our stores. The industry, along with the rest of the nation, pretty much just gives lip service to equal rights and respect for women. I am hoping that younger generations will fare better in the future as the old guard retires. — Kate M., Bethlehem, PA
  • My degree is in accounting, but I was working human resources when a job came up for a cost accountant. The daughter of an engineer, my love for manufacturing ran deep, and I wanted the job. I asked the head of HR to allow me to interview for the job. He said, “You are a woman, you’ll never get it.” I insisted. I interviewed with the VP of accounting, and knew I had the job 15 minutes after it started. The company closed a few years later, and of the 125 people, I was one of the last six out the door. It made me mad when I was told no, because I was a woman, but I stuck to my guns. When that job ended, I created our company and incorporated us, and the issue of equal rights has never been an issue here ever since. — Jo G., Oconomowoc, WI
  • I have witnessed sexual harassment my entire career in this industry, and actually in every place I have worked since I entered the workforce 36 years ago. I am a pretty woman; I never gave it too much thought, really. Also, when I was younger before I started my store, I was the victim of discrimination. I worked for a small chain of repair kiosks in the malls. I found out I was making less per hour than the male bench jewelers, with the same or less experience than I had at the time. As far as now, I would like to think it’s better. As an owner of a 25 year jewelry store started from nothing, I do command more respect from my peers and employees, but I do still see it now and again with salesmen. Honestly, I don’t see it ever going away, in any business. I am glad to see the tolerance levels have dropped, but at the end of the day, we are all just human! — Pamela R., Lauderdale by the Sea, FL
  • There have been cases where things have been said that were somewhat inappropriate in a work environment, and I make sure they know it isn’t acceptable. Done and over with and they know where everyone stands. — Rita W., Rocky Mount, NC
  • I have not personally seen harassment or discrimination in the workplace, but we are a small independent store that operates like a family. Over the years, I have had employees that were foreign-born working on a green card, as well as minority women in management roles. I believe the equal rights issues being addressed today in our industry seem to be in the larger companies where they have less of a family type dynamic. It is all about respect, and from my years in the jewelry industry, some employees in the larger companies are willing to step on someone to get ahead. I think that this industry is doing better to bring the actions of a few to light so these things do not happen again. — Eric S., West Springfield, MA
  • It’s doing well. I believe our industry has always focused on women as they are the reason we manufacture most jewelry. So to ignore them or treat them unfairly is to cut the throat of the industry. — William B., Naples, FL
  • I have witnessed it, and I put an immediate stop to it. I’ve dropped vendors because of their behavior towards the women that I work with. No room for harassment in my store. — Garry Z., Chicago, IL
  • Years ago, we had a few vendors that would not talk to my mom and I, so we would bring my dad (not in the business) as our token male. I have other vendors that even a couple of years ago always make the pitch to my husband; he lets them finish and then informs them that I am the jeweler. I love watching them apologize for ignoring me. Things are getting easier for women owners, but we still don’t get equal respect. — Amanda L., Steinbach, MB
  • I feel better about a woman’s role in the jewelry business. The business is progressing, and we are seeing more women run ownership and management on the retail side. Manufacturing and gemstone still seems to be male-oriented. — Mariana H., Chas, SC
  • Not sure what term to use … but I was told from Day One of opening that I would fail in the jewelry industry because I was a woman. Told over and over it was a man’s world and I would not be successful. — Joan L., Muscle Shoals, AL
  • Yes, I have been sexually harassed and discriminated against. Progress is being made. It will be generations before we see real change. — Cathy G., Frankfort, IN
  • I worked for Kay’s back in the ‘80s … the stories I could tell … To answer your question, “customers” still perceive “jewelers” as being men. I have been in this business for 30 years, and I still have people ask me when the “man” will be in. When pressed, they say, “You know, the man, the real jeweler.” I can have a ton of framed papers of my accomplishments in the jewelry industry, but they still think of “jewelers” as being men. Instead of dwelling on that, I move on to show them why I can handle all of their jewelry needs. — Susan K., Lewisburg, PA
  • I experienced discrimination when I was younger by vendors. 44 years ago, there weren’t as many store owners or gemologists that were women. I was treated as though I wasn’t very bright. I used it to my advantage, learning who I could trust because of some of the smoke they were blowing up my skirt. It was disheartening, however. When I was an AGS member, a fellow member looked at my name tag and said, “You’re a store owner? Usually the pretty ones are salespeople!” I’ve never forgotten that one either. Often it is thought pretty can’t be intelligent, especially by men. — Kas J., Jefferson City, MO
  • This problem seems to be mostly prevalent in the big corporate chains, where power and egos are much more prevalent and the atmosphere is much more cutthroat to advance and succeed. I do not see much at all in family-owned stores where the couple are both running the business and typically have several family members involved. We are much more involved in our families and the community and charitable works. Our trust and reputations are paramount to our continuing business. — James G., Memphis, TN
  • Women sell more jewelry than men. After 30 years in this business, never witnessed sexual harassment. — Barry F., Bardonia, NY
  • In my past careers, it was very prevalent. If you were an attractive single female, it meant you were in the market like a slab of meat. Butt grabs, boob comments, even blatant disrespect because as a woman, “I just wouldn’t understand.” My husband travels with me to JCK and AGTA often … vendors will ALWAYS speak to him first unless they know me. He is the tech guy for my store (handles our website and computers only). He will always turn and point to me as the person to speak to, and many vendors (depending on the culture) get very confused and try to talk to him anyway. Money talks, and when I don’t feel mutual respect, I just spend my dollars somewhere else. We’ve come a long way, but there are miles to go. — Jennifer F., Colorado Springs, CO
  • Yes and not nearly enough with this horrible anti-female administration!! — Donna T., Newtonville, MA
  • I have witnessed sexual harassment and discrimination years ago working for a large jewelry importer and manufacturer. I think our industry as a whole does a great job today regarding equal rights and respect for women. — Frank S., Plantation, FL
  • Signet is proof our industry is not doing too well in gender equality. Independents are probably doing generally better because women run an increasing number of stores. — Richard F., Mobile, AL
  • I personally have never seen or experienced any issues of sexual harassment. Interestingly though, I was talking to a colleague, and the discussion came up that he needed some help but was afraid to hire a female unless they could be vetted by a friend or colleague for fear of a harassment issue. — Murphy M., Kalispell, MT
  • No, I’ve never witnessed sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. And I worked for Signet for 12 years! — Gary W., Richmond, VA
  • I am not a fan of Signet and the way they conduct business. They have ruined jewelry in the minds of many of their victims … er, I mean customers. They just settled a lawsuit for all the BS they lay on their customers with credit — now it is time to pay the piper for their years of treating women like crap. Could not happen to a nicer bunch of folks IMHO. — Cliff Y., Lowell, MI
  • I have never witnessed any harassment or discrimination, and I feel like our industry in general is doing a good job of staying ahead of these issues. That’s my take, though, and I’m a small business owner. Maybe things are different on the corporate side? — Marc M., Midland, TX
  • We would never discriminate against women. We have never had any sexual discrimination complaints or issue, but if there was, it would be a firing offense after investigation. — John P., Winter Park, FL
  • I have been a victim of sexual discrimination. Prior to me venturing out into my own business, I worked for several different jewelry chains. The men were ALWAYS paid more and their opinions were always more respected and listened to. I think it is unfortunate that an industry that caters to women can be so disrespectful of their women associates. — Patty H., Cedarburg, WI
  • Not an issue for us. Glad the bad guys are getting exposed. Should be consequences for bad behavior. — Greg R., Prescott, AZ
  • As a female jeweler, oh the F’in stories I could tell! Bout time this comes to the forefront. Now if you could equalize pay, I’d be overjoyed! — Denise O., La Grange, IL
  • I liked it the old way when you could have fun and still respect them. It’s gone too far the other way. Just because some men are jerks. — Doug S., Hartford, WI
  • Yes, in the ‘70s, it was almost the norm. I didn’t change my last name when I got married, as I saw other women get married and then their careers ended. We had a small wedding out of town and I never told my boss. Left that company three years later for a more progressive (i.e., woman friendly) company. — Rosanne K., South Bend, IN

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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Buzz Session

How Useful Are Trade Shows? Our Brain Squad Sounds Off (And Provides Suggestions)

Most think there are too many shows these days.

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I am a self-proclaimed show hog. I love shows. Peers are there, information on trends and always a good buy is to be had. Seeing new designs and listening to what others are experiencing in their stores. Seminars will also inspire you to take what you learned back to your store. Energizes you and you can share that energy with your staff. — Amber Gustafson, Amber’s Designs Fine Jewelry, Katy, TX

  • The speakers at JCK have really gone downhill. The educational events aren’t what they used to be at all. No Porte, Decker, Huisken, Geller, etc. Just little techy people that mean nothing. — Steve Hawkins, Sanchez Hawkins Fine Jewelers, Lake Havasu City, AZ
  • It seems that you no longer have to be a member of the trade to attend some shows. I find that very frustrating. So when I attend shows, it is for networking and workshops more than purchasing. I will quickly check out the vendors, but usually don’t place any orders while I’m there. — Doreen Vashlishan, Werkheiser Jewelers, Bethlehem, PA
  • I read your magazine, that’s my trade show. I work six and half days a week. — Barry Fixler, Barry’s Estate Jewelry, Bardonia, NY
  • Build shows around the “must-see” brands that are too complex and sizable for a sales manager to bring to a store. Or, big brands can band together and fly clients to them. — Steven B. Goldfarb, Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, Bellevue, WA
  • It’s not about inventory anymore; we can see that online anytime. It’s about connections and education. Shift the focus of the shows to that. — Robert Mullen, Mullen Bros. Jewelers, Swanswa, MA
  • Trade shows are too expensive not only for vendors, but to attend. Vegas/vacation is the “dope” show for the larger stores. Smaller “group buying shows” are better for smaller stores. — Larry W. Hall, Baker & Baker Jewelers, Marietta, OH
  • Somewhat useful in regards to new merchandise … always beneficial when using the time to re-focus! — Thomas Piotrowski, Delta Diamond Setters & Jewelers, Plymouth, MI
  • The shows (if they are to survive) need more event status. Where is the value? What is the compelling reason to be at your show as a seller or a buyer? Does your show provide a good answer to the question what’s NEW? Or what’s HOT? — Alan Lindsay, Henry’s, Cape May, NJ
  • Shows are useful but expensive and overwhelming. Please treat us well, spoil us a little. And have a show in an interesting place; we don’t like Vegas! — Meg Rankin, J. Rankin Jewellers, Edmonds, WA
  • I attend the JCK Vegas show to see new designers and styles as well as our vendors. It is necessary to attend shows since many vendors do not support salesmen on the road. The “road” is just too dangerous today! — Laura Sipe, JC Sipe, Indianapolis, IN
  • Many years ago, I would attend four trade shows per year. Today, I only attend one per year. There are too many trade shows. If the number of retailers and wholesalers are declining, shouldn’t trade shows? In my opinion, the fewer the trade shows, the better. — Tommy Navarra, Navarra’s, Lake Charles, LA
  • I love trade shows. It gives us a chance to see what new things our suppliers are doing as well as there are usually plenty of educational opportunities. What I find the most valuable with trade shows are the limitless opportunities to network with other jewelers and learn what they are doing to improve their businesses. — Eric Stevens, Stevens Diamond Jewelers, West Springfield, MA
  • There are too many shows. Maybe there are too many jewelry manufacturers, LOL! I’m always amazed at how much all the jewelry looks alike in Vegas. Anyway, 36 years ago when I entered this business, it felt like the shows were “a service to” and “of service to” the retail trade. Now it just feels like show owners are trying to make money off of their exhibitors by running more shows, charging more for booths, etc. and the exhibitors feel compelled to participate. Advice? Ugh. — Valerie Naifeh, Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Make the shows reasonable to attend. Four dollars for a bottle of water, pay to park at the show and crazy onsite food costs are part of the poor experience. I now attend smaller IJO shows and get more done. In addition, the exhibitors are so stressed that they forget that at the B2B level, it is still about relationships. — David Blitt, Troy Shoppe Jewellers, Calgary, AB
  • Very useful! Could not be in business without them. Besides talking to my vendors and seeing what’s new, I also check out the machines, the new materials, head to the educational sessions, see my friends, and talk to people who have more experience than me in how to try new things and what I should be doing differently. Since I am not on either coast, the shows are my way to stay up on anything and everything in the jewelry business and I would be stagnant without them. — Susan Eisen, Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches, El Paso, TX
  • Trade shows are great to find new product and make new contacts. The problem with decreased attendance may have more to do with there being so many available now. — Ben Brantley, Ben Brantley & Co., Shelbyville, TN
  • While I believe in trade shows, it is getting more and more costly to both display and attend. Also, not sure if this has anything to do with it, but, I think these shows are too big. As a result, they can be overwhelming. — Joseph Villarreal, Villarreal Fine Jewelers, Austin, TX

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.

Continue Reading

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