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Jeweler Makes Thoroughly Convincing Case for Brick-and-Mortar Retail

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It’s the small businesses that make a community.

[Editor’s note: This letter is a submission from Marc Majors of Sam L. Majors in Midland, TX.]

For years now we’ve been hearing about the rise of online shopping with consumerism turning toward the internet and how it’s going to negatively affect brick-and-mortar retailers. I honestly took little warning and didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it until 2017.

I’ve watched the trend get worse and worse but now it’s a two-headed monster and I have no idea how to slay it. With tremendous discounts and deals given and the promise to deliver in two days, it seems like this has appealed to people more than running down to your local retailer and buying what you need. Do people really think it’s more convenient to have something delivered to your doorstep than driving down the street? Have people been consumed with shopping for a price instead of a piece? Would you rather put something in your “shopping cart,” type in your credit card info and shipping address and hit “confirm”? Where is the pride in that?

There is none.

Look, I get it, some things you just can’t get locally, especially in smaller towns. I’m understanding of that. But if there is a nice store in your community that provides good products and services then why wouldn’t you buy locally?

Obviously, I’m a big fan of buying locally because I’m in retail, too, but what people don’t realize is that it’s the small businesses that build and make a community. And when you take your money elsewhere, like the internet, you are doing a disservice to your local community. You’re giving your business to an online retailer who could care less about who you are, what you’re about and your family. They don’t care if you come back or not. They have your money and they are done with you until you make another purchase from them.

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As a local retailer, I see you at restaurants, church and the grocery store. Our kids play together, they go to school together, we coach teams together, etc. Now why wouldn’t you want to support someone you know so well?

Take pride in what your community offers! Take pride in knowing that you’re supporting someone who turns around and supports the community. Take pride in knowing you bought a quality product from a local merchant who can answer any questions and take care of any customer service issues immediately.

Isn’t it more exciting to go shopping, talk directly to a human being, pick out exactly what you want, try it on if needed and walk out with your new purchase? Sure it is!


This piece is an INSTORE Online extra.

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Wilkerson Testimonials

Cleaning House for a New Generation

At Komara Jewelers in Canfield, Ohio, Wilkerson handled all the aspects of its retirement sale just as owner Bob Komara’s children took over day-to-day operations of the business. They’d used other companies before, says Brianna Komara-Pridon, but they didn’t compare. “If we had used Wilkerson then, it would have been so much better.”

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On Extreme Customer Service, Here Are Your Thoughts

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Customer service makes or breaks a business. Occasionally you have to think outside of the box or go to the extreme to make a difference, so it was nice to see this theme this month. — Wadeana Beveridge, Community Jewelry Inc., Brandon, FL

I love the extreme customer service story. I think it’s the perfect time of year to focus on a story like that — the busy holiday season has come and gone, and so has Valentine’s Day, so it’s important to remind employees to keep their enthusiasm up and focus on fabulous customer service even though business has slowed down a little. — Sydney Moss, Burkes Fine Jewelers, Kilmarnock, VA

The customer is not always right. I feel like it’s my job to tell them that. They think they understand about jewelry, but in reality, they don’t. So it’s my job to teach them, explain to them why certain things can’t be done. Such as adding a halo to a 20 year-old setting for 500 bucks. — Christopher Sarraf, Nuha Jewelers, Plainview, NY

Survival of the Fittest

The jewelry trade is starting to remind me of the travel agent business years ago. Our customers are trying to go straight to the source and eliminate us. That’s the reason only the strong will survive. — Tommy Navarra, Navarra’s, Lake Charles, LA

Fading Luster

I’m worried about the direction of our industry. Lately I have seen more and more people just looking for a service rather than making a purchase. “We bought this online and need it sized.” Or “we bought this in St. Thomas and need it appraised and sized/fitted.” Loyalty is falling by the wayside, and the Internet is leading consumers to believe that they should be able to walk into a brick-and-mortar retailer store and pick up anything they want at a price they saw online. I hope this is just a phase or slump in our industry and that things will turn around soon. The luster to this beautiful business is wearing off and I need it to get reapplied very soon. — Marc Majors, Sam L. Majors, Midland, TX

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Your Letters on Retirement and Changes in the Jewelry Industry

Here are your letters-to-the-editor for this month.

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On Retirement

I wish all retirees well and I hope this industry gets strong and hopeful again! — Stacey S. Sachs, Solomon’s Fine Jewelry & Watch, Albertson, NY

It was actually kind of nice to know that after a long time of working in the business, we’re not the only ones thinking of bailing. The last few years have been tough, and if this year isn’t much better, we may be following in those footsteps. — Wadeana Beveridge, Community Jewelry Inc., Brandon, FL

Retirement is a sad, sorry dilemma for many. — Eileen Eichhorn, Eichhorn Jewelry, Decatur, IN

It is so sad that the general public, me included, has shifted to the convenience of online shopping. I’ve had my first challenge against Costco for a 3-carat stone. The point is, many older jewelers are not equipped to attack the learning curve for online shopping. Second, many don’t have a willing family member to inherit or purchase their businesses. So they are leaving the industry. I am grateful for my crazy MacGyver gold skills that have created many a valuable repair, restoration or remodel. But in this day and age, that begs the question of how many young entrepreneurs are that hungry, fearless and not intimidated by the risk/reward of our industry to pick up the void these retirees are creating? — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL

I think kids see how stressful the jewelry biz is and are smart enough to not want to follow in our steps! Ha! My 11 year-old does not want to be a jeweler. I, however, am second-generation. — Julie Terwilliger, Wexford Jewelers, Cadillac, MI

Trust Earned

We have a lot of people come in for the first time who say, “We trust you.” It’s strange when it’s first-time customers, but I think people are drawn to mom-and-pop stores that have been in business a long time. We work hard to keep our reputation stellar, and it shows in the trust our customers have in us. — Chay Rees Runnels, Rees Jewelry, Nacogdoches, TX

Change Happens

I think the jewelry industry is a direct reflection of society and businesses in general. Change happens everywhere. Just because there are fewer stores, it doesn’t mean that the industry is in peril. It’s just an ongoing transition and adaptation. — Jon Walp, Long Jewelers, Virginia Beach, VA

Warning To Disloyal Vendors

It’s amazing to me that as foot traffic and volume have gone down for some longstanding stores that may be thinking about retirement, there are some vendors, — even some on the INSTORE list of top vendors — who are willing to throw their accounts out the door. Just when some stores could use a little support, they get thrown under the bus. My comment to those vendors is, “Success leads to arrogance and arrogance leads to failure!” — Alex Weil, Martin’s Jewelry, Torrance, CA

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Teen Shooting in Florida Jewelry Store Prompts Responses, and More Reader Letters

Two readers warn guns are dangerous, while another worries about the death of retail in favor of custom design.

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Guns Are Dangerous

I closed my jewelry store about a year ago, after 34 years in the industry. I had been trained to survive a shooting in my store, but not in a horse pasture. The damage caused by an assault rifle firing in your direction is significant, even if the bullets do not hit you. My horse and I both have PTSD. Jewelers tend to be pro-gun, but no one looks who is behind what you are shooting at, and that is how my business failed: trauma caused by an inattentive shooter. The law enforcement officer that almost killed me did not pay attention to what was behind his poorly constructed target and I saw every bullet pass by as I huddled in a pasture, as horses were screaming and running around me.

Guns are more dangerous than most jewelers know — especially assault rifles. —B. Diane Eames, Gems Of The Hill Country, Ingram, TX

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Not Self-Defense

Why don’t you call it what it is: Florida is a seriously messed-up state! Kid robs a store, runs out and gets into a car, then gets shot in the head.

Florida calls that justified? There was no threat to life once the guy runs. It’s a homicide by the store owner! Not self-defense by any means! —Mark Shneyer, M. Stephen Fine Jewelry, Hackettstown, NJ

Come Together

INSTORE Magazine is my grounding. Every month, I get the physical magazine that I can share with our crew or the emails that give tips and tricks. It makes me feel not-quite-so-alone in the business. Yes, we are all in competition with the other stores in our areas, but there is a sense of camaraderie with INSTORE that allows us to share triumphs and woes, as well as tidbits of information that we probably wouldn’t share independently. It gives me a sense of unity that I never felt until I started getting INSTORE. —Wadeana Beveridge, Community Jewelry, Brandon, FL

Too Much Service?

I am for the first time concerned as I see so much retail around me be replaced by services! Even though we will always get some business of custom and repairs, as a designer-retailer, I need to have outright sales, so I can continue to fill my need to create! —Eve J. Alfille, Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio, Evanston, IL

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