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IJO Concludes Semi-Annual Conference

It was held in Pittsburgh.

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(PRESS RELEASE) SOUTHPORT, CT — The Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO) recently returned from its semi-annual conference, which was held in Pittsburgh, PA. Several changes were announced and implemented and were applauded by the membership.

“We have a very strong and active Board of Directors, made up of store owners as well as our “NextGen” members,” stated IJO president & CEO Jeff Roberts, “and they provide us with feedback from the general membership – and we listen! We’re constantly striving to improve this organization and we’re stronger than we’ve ever been.”

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Members had suggested revamping the format of Sunday morning’s General Session, which always offered an inspirational keynote speaker, and Johnny Cupcakes didn’t disappoint. But change-up they wanted so IJO eliminated several announcements by transferring them to the Saturday breakfast, and brought in comedian Scott Bloom as an Emcee who provided some hilarity and kept the program hopping.

The first announcement Roberts made was a $500 reduction in membership dues, beginning with calendar 2020. “For years we’ve had a co-op program whereby members received $500 at year-end by using the IJO logo and tagline in their advertising,” Roberts stated further. “We realized members are busy and they were leaving money on the table by not submitting for co-op dollars, so we eliminated it.”

A new and very welcome addition was IJO provided snacks in the buying room both mornings and afternoons, plus a sumptuous full lunch for all retailers on Monday. According to Mike Youkilis, Board Rep from Midwest Diamond Distributors, “The IJO show we just finished in Pittsburgh was a huge success in business and the amazing additions of refreshments for all 3 days of the show were fantastic. Coffee and soda and donuts, bagels, cookies, popcorn and chocolate-covered everything, plus very ample passing of gourmet food at the end of the day were great! The free lunch on Monday for all retailers was well received. Of course, the free beer, free wine, and free mixed drinks every day were not so bad either. Like I always say – the family that eats together, stays together.”

“We’ve also created some new partnerships to better serve our members and to make the organization stronger,” Roberts added. “The first is Porte Marketing, who brings over thirty years of marketing experience and a variety of different tools to help them – the independent retailers – become more successful. In addition, I have hired Stephen Barnes from Barnes Jewelers in Goldsboro, NC, as a consultant for IJO. Stephen brings an enthusiastic and passionate attitude to not only help the IJO retailer, but to also help make IJO even better.”

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Rich Bennett from P.K. Bennett Jewelers in Mundelein, Illinois summed it up simply. “We have been members of IJO for the past 10 years. It has been the best business decision we have ever made. The Pittsburgh show was just wow! From the new daily formats and the unbelievable energy in the seminars and buying room it was very evident that IJO has listened to its members and responded in a big way. This is not your father’s organization anymore! ”

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