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How Far are Jewelers Prepared to Go to Save a Sale? Our Brain Squad Answers

Jewelers state their limits when dealing with a sale gone awry.

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Small town, I will always take the hit. I don’t want them to tell their friends. — Diana Smires, Diana Smires Jewelry, Columbus, NJ

  • I’ve grown a stronger spine in the last 20 years and have learned how to smile sweetly and not give the store away and still make the customer feel appreciated (but: we don’t remove watch links for free anymore, we don’t discount at the first demand anymore, we don’t let people walk out of the store with merchandise in hand and not pay up front anymore).— Erika Godfrey, Hawthorne Jewelry, Kearney, NE
  • In my youth, I let fear guide me and I always gave in to the customer. As I’ve aged and have less debt, I let the situation and temperament of the customer dictate how I respond. — Steve Floyd, Floyd & Green, Aiken, SC
  • I will always do my best for my client. But there is a line you have to draw very gently in the sand. Years ago, a client refused to pay for a very large appraisal assignment. I held my ground, got sued and countersued for payment. I was the first appraiser to file a lien in the state of Hawaii (and the USA) and it set a precedent for other personal property appraisers. I am still glad I dug my heels in and was eventually paid. Pick your battles and know when you are right. — Brenda Reichel, Carats & Karats Fine Jewelry, Honolulu, HI
  • I feel that the long-term relationship is more important, but not to the extent that we ever go below cost plus 10 percent. — John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI
  • With Google reviews the way they are, we go out of our way to keep people happy. — Mike Doland, Doland Jewelers, Dubuque, IA
  • Really far. I do this to a fault, arguably (and what I’ve found is that, unfortunately, it’s usually the customers that you bend over backwards for who bite you in the ass. “No good deed goes unpunished” and all that jazz.) — Jennifer Hornik Johnson, Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT
  • What will always distinguish us from the many businesses competing for the dollar is that most of the staff is empowered to do what they feel is right with a particular customer at that moment in time, regardless of the bottom line. Since approximately 1955, we have outlasted nine different competitors. — Dale Thompson, Ken K. Thompson Jewelry, Bemidji, MN
  • To the point of being rational. — Annette Kinzie, Leonard Jewelry, Stillwater, OK
  • It’s OK to make money. It’s OK to fire a customer. It’s OK that someone “threatens” to leave you as a customer. Let them. — Jonathan McCoy, McCoy Jewelers, Dubuque, IA
  • We have built our reputation on customer satisfaction. We go the distance. What is the value of your reputation? — Tonia Ulsh, Mountz Jewelers, Camp Hill, PA
  • I have taken severe hits when it was not the customer’s fault. I now have a written agreement for suppliers that backs their product as I back it. No agreement, no business. — Newton Starnes, Newtons Fine Jewelry, Flowood, MS
  • My preference is to keep them happy and let them come back for something else in the future. Sugar is repeated to five people, sour is repeated to 50. — Garry Zimmerman, Windy City Diamonds, Chicago, IL
  • The customer is always right! Usually. — Charles Hood, C.B. Hood Diamond Co., Santa Maria, CA

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 [email protected].

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Wilkerson Testimonials

A Liquidation Sale during a Pandemic? Wilkerson Showed Them the Way

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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