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Commentary: The Business

INSTORE’s Brain Squad Participation Boosts Business Acumen

Denise Oros says membership helped her grow her jewelry store.




WHY DO I answer so many INSTORE Brain Squad surveys? To get a relevant information exchange, you have to give accurate statistics.

But there’s a bonus: By answering the questionnaire each month for two decades, I’ve learned how to track my inventory turn, review and compare my buying, stick to my budget and learn what my inventory levels really mean. This was transformative for creating what is now a $1 million-plus store operating in less than 600 square feet.

That is huge compared to other retailers who don’t spend time researching, finding and filling out the information. They don’t bother with a budget or have functioning open-to-buy lists and can’t be bothered to restock fast sellers or understand their P&L statement. I am grateful every day for the tips and tricks I’ve learned and shared.

But the question shouldn’t be why do you answer the Brain Squad Surveys, but rather why don’t you answer the Brain Squad surveys?

If you run your business wisely, you have to review your numbers to do your monthly taxes, pay salaries/commissions and qualify fast sellers for next month’s budget. Each month answering the survey, you analyze your numbers: gross profit, net profit, cost of goods, cost of labor, supplies, etc. From those monthly reports, you can find your fast sellers.

Who are your best performing vendors? How is the market shifting in your demographics? What adjustments to inventory are necessary?


Each month, I reflect on my numbers, searching for upticks and ways to change and tweak my business’s performance. Reading the back end of the Brain Squad survey, where I can see all the other responses, keeps me trending toward profitability. If I pay attention to what is selling elsewhere, noting suppliers that sell those items, I have a better buy list for the next show.

Those results keep my cases fresh, so my customers return again and again. Reading the responses and gleaning how other stores deal with old stock, discounting, markups, etc., keeps me in the middle of the road to profitability.

This is a business, I run it like a business and INSTORE has been a huge inspiration for growth, defining market trends, and increasing profitability. Those characteristics add up to a very prolific business that I love walking into each and every day.

There’s another bonus. In the letters to the editor, you will often find industry challenges from our community or areas that need detailed attention to increase profitability and management ease.

INSTORE is my professional retail reminder: A good business needs tending, constantly, to produce the highest yields. Those magic seeds often come from the pages of INSTORE.


Denise Oros owns Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL.



When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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