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Big Survey

Jewelers Are Getting Pickier About Their Vendors and That’s a “Good Thing”

INSTORE Big Survey finds 62% of jewelers carry 10 or fewer vendors, up from 32% a decade ago.




From how many vendors do you regularly order stock?

More than 30

INDEPENDENT JEWELERS APPEAR to be getting much more discerning about the vendors they order from, with almost two-thirds (63%) now regularly buying from 10 or fewer. That compares to 32% who maintained such a tight portfolio of vendors a decade ago.

According to the 2021 INSTORE Big Survey, only one in 10 jewelers now carries more than 20 vendors, down sharply from 51% in 2012, when we asked a similar question.

The trend is a positive one, says management consultant Kate Peterson, as the lower number allows store owners and their suppliers to develop genuine partnerships.

“I think this is reflective of the fact that most successful retailers have figured out two important things over the past several years:

  1. Trying to be everything to everybody really doesn’t work anymore. Defining your brand, then staying true to that brand in your product offerings is a far better way to build a loyal customer following.
  2. It’s far better to be important to a few vendors than to be insignificant to many. With fewer and fewer sales reps on the road, the old-style personal relationships are harder to come by. Choosing partners carefully with the intention of building long-term alliances is the best strategy,” Peterson says.

When building a relationship with vendors, let them know that they were handpicked, veteran industry analyst Ken Gassman suggested, “and that you will be loyal, but only if they are loyal to you.”

The 2021 Big Survey was carried out between August and September, attracting nearly 700 anonymous responses from owners of independent jewelry stores across the United States and Canada. The full results are available in the November issue of INSTORE.


Chris Burslem is Group Managing Editor at SmartWork Media.



Thinking of Retirement? This Jeweler Went for the Company That Shares His Values

Richard Frank of Goldstein’s Jewelry in Mobile, Ala., had worked in his family’s store since he was 13-years old. As its owner, he was proud to be at the helm of Mobile’s oldest jewelry store, an AGS, IJO and RJO member business. But there comes a time in every jeweler’s life when a decision must be made regarding the future. And for Frank, that meant turning the store over to new owners. He chose Wilkerson to handle the sale, a decision, he says, made a long time ago. “Their reputation is such that all the things we value are what they value,” he says. And the results surpassed Frank’s own expectations. Would he recommend Wilkerson for other jewelers who are considering a going-out-of-business or retirement sale? “If you’re contemplating a sale to maximize the return on your business, there is no one else in the industry that I could even think of recommending.”

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