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Brain Squad

How Were January Sales? 21 Jewelers Report In

INSTORE readers share their thoughts on 2020 so far.



WE ASKED OUR Brain Squad survey group how 2020 sales have been so far. For the most part, it seems jewelry retailers are happy with how the year has begun, though some are afraid of how the current coronavirus epidemic and the upcoming elections could affect business. (We’d love to hear how your store is doing! Join our Brain Squad monthly survey group at and get a cool new T-shirt for your trouble.)

  • We have been surprisingly busy, not just with Valentine’s, but with repairs, custom work, appraisals, busy busy busy! The true sign that you know, AND you are doing, is having a customer that can never be pleased leave not only happy, but wanting more, singing your praises, and sending their friends in! — Kelli R., Salina, KS
  • I am optimistic for the upcoming year. The elections have me a little worried, but not too much. — Tommy T., Perry Hall, MD
  • January was quiet, but February is off to a great start! Hope it continues! — Laurie C., Hyde Park, NY
  • The rise in gold price has not affected gold sales as we thought it might. The lower prices on lab-grown diamonds have taught us that it is much easier to deal with prices going lower than going higher. — Alex W., Torrance, CA
  • January was not good. — John H., Madison, WI
  • 2020 is off to a great start. I think it will be a good one. — Robert K., Boise, ID
  • January has 2020 off to a good start for us. — Donnie B., Gainesville, FL
  • Looks fine. The pandemic will be an interesting phenomenon to observe, however. — Mark N., Highland Park, IL
  • We had a great January!! Hoping that February treats us well toooooo!! — Mary Jo C., Rutland, VT
  • 2020 off to a good start … cautiously optimistic for the year. — Rob D., Minneapolis, MN
  • January was awesome — no idea why but bridal was hot along with loose. So far, February is starting off about the same. — Tom N., Spencer, IA
  • Slow start, last week of January picked up nicely. — Lisa M., Fort Worth, TX
  • So far November, December, and January have been up months. — Bruce B., Lyndhurst, OH
  • Surprisingly well. Attitudes aren’t that good, but the pocketbook is better than in years past. — Karen S., Centralia, IL
  • Looking good so far! — John A., Bala Cynwyd, PA
  • 2020 has been better than expected so far, outside of all the tragedies of illness and loss of life. We are optimistic in trying to constantly reinvent our business, and rely on INSTORE to keep us informed and updated on what is happening in our industry. — Annette K., Stillwater, OK
  • Crazy busy January, but the gods were kind to us here in Wisconsin. The weather has been lovely, and folks have been out and about all month. — Jo G., Oconomowoc, WI
  • So far, 2020 is shaping up to be a very good year, thanks at least in part to President Trump’s great economy and low unemployment rate. — James S., Lowell, IN
  • January has been hectic, but outstanding. People are getting the remounts done that they have been putting off for years. I expect a prosperous year. — Rick N., Fernandina Beach, FL
  • Off to a great start! Keep the ball rolling! — Shannon P., Altus, OK
  • So far so good! — Stacey H., Lincolnwood, IL

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at



Wilkerson Testimonials

To Generate Funds for a Jeweler’s Move and Remodel, Wilkerson More Than Delivered

Even successful jewelers need a little extra cash to fund expansion plans—especially when there’s inventory on hand that’s ripe for liquidation. For Beaumont, Texas-based jeweler Michael Price, co-owner of Mathews Jewelers, it was the perfect time to call Wilkerson. Price talked to other jewelers as well as vendors for advice during the selection process and decided to go with Wilkerson. And he wasn’t disappointed. When it comes to paying for the move and expansion, Price says the road ahead is clear. “When we close on the next two stores, there’s no worries about finances.”

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Brain Squad

Here’s Your Chance to Join INSTORE’s Monthly Survey Panel, the Brain Squad!

It’s only four minutes a month, and yet it provides so much to members.




The Brain Squad is INSTORE’s monthly survey panel, made up of owners and top managers of jewelry retail businesses across the country who have volunteered to participate. Each month, members are emailed a short survey consisting of multiple-choice and short, open-ended questions. Responses are used in departments and feature stories throughout INSTORE.

ABOVE: Long-time Brain Squad member Chris Snowden sports his INSTORE T-shirt while doing cleanup after flooding in his store in Wilmington, NC in October 2018.



How long will it take to respond to surveys?

If you thoughtfully answer every question, a survey can take four to 10 minutes to fill out. If you answer only multiple-choice questions, you could be finished in 60 seconds or less.

What kind of questions are on the surveys?

Questions cover month-to-month business and product trends, plus big-picture strategy and policy issues. In a single survey, you might be asked for your fastest-selling jewelry lines, methods you use to motivate and energize your team, and your wildest dinner-table stories about your business.

See a sample of a recent Brain Squad survey here.

Will my information remain anonymous?

Individual responses remain anonymous on multiple-choice questions. Text-based questions are frequently published along with your identifying information in INSTORE. While you are allowed to request that your response to an individual question remain anonymous, the best strategy is — if you don’t want it published in print or online, don’t share it.

So what’s in it for me?

Valuable data no one else has. Each time you complete a Brain Squad survey, you can see all responses from your fellow panelists (without identifying information included). You’ll get tons of useful ideas, many of which INSTORE doesn’t have space to publish.

The thrill of seeing your name in print. And, if we include you in one of our feature departments, also your face, your staff and your business. Not to mention, as a Brain Squad member, you’ll be heard loud and clear by INSTORE editors on the issues that matter most to you.

A better INSTORE, hence a better jewelry industry. Each edition of our magazine relies heavily on Brain Squad content. Which means each new person who contributes makes INSTORE a better, more useful resource for all jewelry retailers.

Plus, a really cool t-shirt. Once you answer your first Brain Squad survey, we’ll send you a free t-shirt. Wear it proudly as a sporty symbol of your jewelry nerd-hood. See a few samples below. (New t-shirt designs arriving November 2018!)




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Brain Squad

When Can Jewelers Get the Absolute Lowest Manufacturer Prices?




It’s complicated.

We recently asked Brain Squad members what time of year they’ve found to be best for getting the absolute lowest manufacturer prices.

And we’d love to be able to tell you that a clear-cut answer emerged. Then you’d know exactly when to seek out discounts.

But no such luck.

We received 127 responses, and they were all over the map.

A bit of consensus did form around summer, and July specifically, with 21 respondents giving one of those two answers. And 10 people said January.

But it’s a question that many jewelers seemed unsure about.

“Is there a time? If so … let me know!” wrote Kriss Roethlisberger of Ace of Diamonds in Mount Pleasant, MI.

“No idea,” wrote Craig C. Curtis of Belfast Jewelry in Belfast, ME.

Some Brain Squad members said angling for lower prices from manufacturers isn’t something they often do.

“Didn’t know I could do that. Tell me more … I’m all ears …,” Alan Perry of Perry’s Emporium in Wilmington, NC, wrote.

“I thought pricing was suppose to be the same price across the board, making adjustments to the gold/silver markets,” wrote Laurie Cusher of Hyde Park Jeweler in Hyde Park, NY.

A few said it’s always a good time to negotiate a deal. As Stew Brandt of H. Brandt Jewelers in Natick, MA, said, “Any time of year. Just ask.”

And some respondents offered their own spin on the topic.

“I get the lowest prices all year long because I like to pay my vendors right away,” Howard Jacobs of Toodies Fine Jewelry in Quincy, MA, wrote. “If they bring items in to show me, I pay them on the spot and they will always cut me in for the better price. I also make deals with other vendors that if I pay them within the week, they will discount it anywhere from 5 percent and up.”

Mark Clodius of Clodius & Co. Jewelers in Rockford, IL, too, seems to have a unique system: “It varies. One vendor I know, they need cash when their line of credit comes due in February. Some others will discount to push EOY sales numbers. Summer can often be a good time to push for cash discounts.”

Among the other answers:

  • “Last day of JCK” — Gordon Lawrie, Eidos, Santa Fe, NM.
  • “Tuscon show” — Ira Kramer, The Diamond Exchange of Maryland, Rockville, MD.
  • “After Valentine’s Day” — Nathan George,  Joshua’s Fine Jewelry, Russellville, AR.
  • “13th month??” — Saro Abrahamian, Town Jewelers, Chevy Chase, MD.


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Brain Squad

Thank You For Brain Squad Sign-Up




[contentheading]Ahh, success … [/contentheading]

Thanks for joining the “Squad”!

You should expect your first “Brain Squad” survey will be sent to you by email in the last week of this month. (If you don’t receive it, please contact us at

After you complete your first survey, you will be eligible for the cool “Brain Squad” t-shirt of your choice (black or grey) … wooooo-hoooo! (See pics here.)

To ensure you receive our survey invitations, please add the email address to the “safe list” or “contact list” in your email program.

By the way, while we’ve got you in a “joining” mood, why not register to become a member of our online INSTORE community. Or check it out at



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