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Jewelers Share Their Takeaways from the COVID-19 Crisis

Save more money, set priorities and be kind.



IN THE SECOND INSTORE coronavirus impact survey, deployed April 19, we asked our Brain Squad this question, “What do you think will be the main thing you take away from this crisis?”

Some were hopeful enough to say they expect better days ahead in business.

“This will pass,” says John Walp of Long Jewelers in Virginia Beach, VA. “We are in the “love business,” and no matter the conditions, people will always fall in love and need to commemorate it.”

Nathan George of Joshua’s Fine Jewelry in Russellville, AR, also shared hopeful feelings. “Small businesses can be the quickest to innovate. Ingenuity and action are greatly motivated by the need to feed your family and change is not as hard as we make it out to be.”

Here’s what others said:

  • I believe this will make us better and appreciate our family more than ever our customer will never be looked at in the same manner. Twenty percent of our industry will disappear; that’s unfortunate. It’ll teach those that remain that you must prepare and keep your business strong; if not, you’ll be gone. — Chip Kuntz, Chippers Jewelry, Bonney, WA
  • Keep your business within your means, don’t grow too fast and put safety first. — Betsy Barron, Love & Luxe, San Francisco
  • Be positive and be kind. — Allison Leitzel-Williams, Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown, PA
  • It has been a horrible disruption to an otherwise great beginning in the first three months of 2020. Looking at the positive, which is what we choose to do, it has made us slow down and enjoy more time at home and with family doing many activities we haven’t enjoyed for many years. It has given us time to do tasks that we have pushed aside and spend some quality time to analyze the logistics of our business while preparing for reopening. — Annette Kinzie, Leonard Jewelry, Stillwater, OK
  • Can’t wait until there is a cure. I will never forget that people died a horrible death. And that I am lucky my family is healthy. — Frank Intorcia, Frank Anson Jewelers, Staten Island, NY
  • Everything can definitely change in the blink of an eye. — Dorothy Gallun, Fine Jewelry, Cedarburg, WI
  • We should have already been working toward being able to sell our jewelry online. It is the Past, Present and Future of our business. — Frank Salinardi, Linardi’s Jewelers, Plantation, FL
  • Living, loving alive things matter much more than money and things. — Robert Young, Robert Young Jeweler Extraordinaire, Belleair Bluffs, FL
  • Save, save, save! I’m learning that a two-month “nest egg” isn’t enough for our business. We also learned that we cannot tolerate under-motivated and under-performing staff. — Tina Yelton, Yelton Fine Jewelers, West Chester, OH
  • Build a better cushion of cash, instead of buying gemstones. They are lovely, but cannot be exchanged for food. — Mark Rozanski, Goldart, Ottawa, ON
  • The old saw is “You have nothing without your health”. I think that’s true. I get the economic impact but talk to a wealthy person’s widow and find out that their economic situation would be traded in a New York minute to have their loved one back alive again. — John Carom, Abby’s Gold & Gems, Uniontown, PA
  • How to meet customers where they are and how to provide innovative concierge-type service to do so. — Jill Keith, Enchanted Jewelry, Danielson, CT
  • The crisis is a stark reminder that we need to remain vigilant and fiscally responsible in our business practices. We’ve been able to weather the storm and continue to support our staff because we weren’t over-extended; we were maybe overly cautious, but in the end it has paid off. — Heather Wahl, R.C. Wahl Jewelers, Des Plaines, IL
  • Having a great team is the most important thing in our business. — Jim Tuttle, Green Lake Jewelry Works, Seattle, WA
  • The trade show as we know it is dead. — Christopher Sarraf, Nuha Jewelers, Plainview, NY
  • Some people in our industry (as in our society generally) seem to value money over everything. They make me angry, especially when they encourage others to behave irresponsibly around this deadly global pandemic. — Catherine Dining, CG Designs, Lafayette, CA
  • Let’s test as many people and as fast as we can. We have to beat this virus. If there is a second wave I probably would not be here on earth. — Donald Killelea, Killelea Jewelers, Midlothian, IL
  • Never forget what a rollercoaster this business is. I suspect that the fallout economically after we reopen might hurt us more, businesswise, than the actual pandemic has. And I am fearful imagining how long the next recession and perhaps depression will last. With that said, I maintain a bit of hope. Trying to remain optimistic. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA
  • Everything happens for a reason. I really am not too worried – I try not to worry about something I cannot control. This is definitely out of my hands. Once life returns back to normal, or what the new normal will be, I will throw myself back into work 100 percent, and we will be fine. — Shari Altman, B&E Jewelers, Southampton, PA
  • Stay healthy. Be safe. But as a small business with only five employees we could have stayed opened and serviced our 20 to 30 customers per day. — Warren Lakein, Lakein’s Jewelers of Hamilton, Baltimore, MD
  • The struggle for small businesses to stay afloat has been a real challenge for years. This epidemic will shutter many doors permanently. Many shop owners will retire and many manufacturers will close. — Aida Leisure, OBS Jewelers, St. Michaels, MD
  • Like any crisis we have faced as a nation, for a time it has definitely brought us (figuratively) closer together at a time when political and social division seemed to be at an all-time high. I hope and pray the “new normal” would have people remembering to be kinder to one another and appreciate one another more than before. It would really be great if our leaders would set the example for this. — Jane Johnson, RM Johnson & Sons, Salem, VA




This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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