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Commentary: The Business

Jim Fiebig: It All Starts with a Thing Called Belief

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Have some faith in your customers. To them, displays of love and appreciation are still important.

One day, when my son was 5 years old and beginning to question the existence of Santa and the Easter Bunny, he was riding in the car with my wife, JoAnn, when they passed one of the many Amish horse buggies we would often see near Sturgis, MI. Jared asked his mother, “Why don’t those people ride in cars?” JoAnn told him they did not believe in cars. Jared replied, “How can they not believe in cars? They’re everywhere!”

Although this is a cute anecdote of semantics, it really rings true for all of us. I have been talking to a lot of people in the jewelry industry lately about business conditions. Among them, I believe Frank Farnsworth of Parle Gems said it best: “This is a recession of confidence.”

Most of us in this industry are so focused on the bad news that we have lost faith in our products, and more important, we have lost faith in our customers. We are making decisions out of fear. Adopting a hunker-down attitude will never grow a business. This is the self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. And you are doing a huge injustice to your clients and the world community.

I know it’s been a struggle for many jewelers, but I submit we are letting our customers down and actually leaving money on the table. Your customers still believe in your professionalism and want your help guiding them into a special piece of fine jewelry that will be perfect for the occasion. Sadly, too many jewelers have already decided that special piece will be another silver bead.

Roughly 90 percent of Americans are still working. I see mall parking lots full all the time. Walmart is still busy. I still wait in line for an espresso. Billions of dollars are trading hands all around us, and we do not believe it. If you do not believe you will sell $1,000-$5,000 pieces of fine jewelry, you won’t inventory them and you will not sell any.

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I know it is scary and I would never ask jewelers to overex tend themselves, but you really should have a good selection of new pieces. Show these pieces every day! At least give your customers the privilege of touching them. True, there is nothing in your store anyone actually needs. Yet historically, jewelry has continued to grow in every economy because it has always been a part of the most special occasions in most peoples’ lives. Why are you giving up now?

Your customers may not have the same disposable income as before, but they still come to you for that special gift. Everything else gets bought at Walmart.

Who decides what makes that gift special? This is the first place where we become our own worst enemy. Special means unique, rare and extraordinary — apart from the usual. How much of your current inventory is really special? Special is not bread and butter, special is that amazing Danish you eat only once a year. Oh yeah, once a year … like birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas.

Look, if you believe people will pay $80 to get a ring resized, then why can’t you believe your anniversary customer can spend $2,000 on a beautiful sapphire ring that will be remembered for generations?

Americans are spending, and this holiday season will be the best in several years — but only for the jewelers who really believe and show it with their inventory.  


Jim Fiebig does colored gemstone sales training. He can be reached through his website: www.sellmorecolor.com.

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[span class=note]This story is from the September 2010 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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