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How to Find Creative Gems in the Trash

Here’s how jewelry retailers can achieve innovation through sanitation.




HOW DO YOU steward your jewelry business to success and profitability?

Just ask veterans of the hospitality industry. Apparently, there’s a whole world of restaurant consultants offer plans, advice, training and support for improving all aspects of the operation, from the menu to staffing to ambiance to marketing.

I recently met one of these consultants, and the first thing he does when he walks into the kitchen is look into the garbage. He says to his clients, “All of your money is in the trashcan. Whatever ingredients and parts and refuse you throw out could be the start of the next great innovation or income stream for your restaurant.”

Think twice before you throw out those kale stems. That’s a whole meal right there!

This idea may sound absurd at first, but this is precisely where innovation lives. Inside of the things that most people leave behind. Every trashcan is a collection of ideas that people gave up on or said no to. Ideas that nobody took a second look at and wondered what else they might become.

And it’s not just the restaurant industry. Scores of new companies are spinning significant profits out of food waste by creating new products, secondary markets and entirely new industries. There’s even a digital marketplace where retailers can post a list of their products about to be thrown out, essentially giving users a menu to peruse. It’s innovation through sanitation. Who knew the trash can would become a platform for commerce?


The best part is, your business doesn’t have to sell perishable goods to learn something from this phenomenon. Because every jewelry store has their version of food waste. Your company has some kind of surplus, be it intellectual, energetic or creative. And if you want to keep doing innovative work, while keeping costs down, then you might try taking a second look at the kinds of things your team throws in the trash.

Here’s the question you might consider asking at your next meeting: Now that we have this, what else does this make possible?

Just look around your store, home office or even your laptop. Hell, look at the trash in the back room. Challenge yourself to appraise your seemingly negative circumstances in a forward-thinking way. You’ll discover what’s now possible for your enterprise. It gives you permission to see opportunities that were previously unavailable, but are now perfectly within your reach.

Look, 2020 was a tough year for retailers in every possible way. But failure doesn’t mean all hope is lost, simply that the new thing around the corner might come in different packaging. And if there’s anything jewelry store owners know a lot about, it’s boxes and the precious gems that are inside of them.

It sounds like dirty work, but consider this. The word trash comes from the term “tros,” which translates to “fallen leaves and twigs.” Which are the two most flammable pieces of tinder the forest has to offer.

What if you turned your trash into somebody else’s treasure?


Scott Ginsberg, a.k.a. “The Nametag Guy,” is the author of 50 books and a TEDx speaker. He’s also the founder/CEO of Prolific, The World’s First Personal Creativity Management Software. Learn why his work sticks at

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Wilkerson Testimonials

Retirement Made Easy with Wilkerson

The store was a landmark in Topeka, Kansas, but after 80 years in business, it was time for Briman’s Leading Jewelers to close up shop. Third generation jeweler and owner Rob Briman says the decision wasn’t easy, but the sale that followed was — all thanks to Wilkerson. Briman had decided a year prior to the summer 2020 sale that he wanted to retire. With a pandemic in full force, he had plenty of questions and concerns. “We had no real way to know if we were going to be successful or have a failure on our hands,” says Briman. “We didn’t know what to expect.” But with Wilkerson in charge, the experience was “fantastic” and now there’s plenty of time for relaxing and enjoying a more secure retirement. “I would recommend Wilkerson to any retailer considering a going-out-of-business sale,” says Briman. “They’ll help you reach your financial goal. Our experience was a tremendous success.”

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