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Letters from Readers on Failure, Trade Shows and More

One reader advises making up for lost sales online with higher repair prices.

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On “The Failure Issue”

Chris Burslem’s article [“Epic Fail”] gives you a definite perspective. We’re all trying to become better jewelers. Sometimes having to throw the dice really works. — Bruce Goodheart, Burnells Creative Gold, Wichita, KS

It’s sitting right next to me here on my nightstand. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Though I’ve had so many epic fails over the past seven years that the lead story title is making my PTSD flare up and giving me little panic attacks. I’m laughing as I write this, but I’m actually serious. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA

Making Up for Lost Profits

I feel our industry should wake up and realize that the Internet is here to stay, and it is just another progression in how the customer prefers to shop. We used to have corner grocery stores and then supermarkets — now we just place an order and drive up for pickup or have them delivered.

Jewelry stores that offer sizing and jewelry repair need to recognize that this is a service that cannot be performed online (but that day may soon come). This is an extra value to the customer who buys online, and if we don’t make profit on the sale of an item, we should consider making up the difference on this value we bring to the customer along with the trust we can instill. I have been using David Geller’s Blue Book for quite some time and have had very few objections to his prices, including when I charge more because folks mention they bought online. — Bill Brundage, Bill Brundage Jewelers, Louisville, KY

Now’s the Time

The greatest time to grow is when everyone else is stagnant because they are worried about the economy. — Bill Jones, Sissy’s Log Cabin, Little Rock, AR

High Cost of Attendance

It was interesting to see that at Baselworld, the big news was the high cost of either going or exhibiting. With the Vegas show coming up and the ridiculous costs involved in attending, will people label the costs as “just not worth it”? — Alex Weil, Martin’s Jewelry, Torrance, CA

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Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Readers Sound Off On E-Commerce, Signet and Millennials

There’s hope in the form of Generation Z.

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Forward Revolution

The jewelry industry is undergoing significant changes because the concept of jewelry has changed. The very high-end luxury goods markets seem to be holding, but the squeezing of the middle class has changed disposable income. Who is buying the jewelry has changed as well. Self-purchasers prevail in this era of self (and selfie) celebration. These factors have evolved my purchasing and merchandising strategies. A pared-down inventory with only essential quick-sellers in understock coupled with targeted memo support is the new reality today for profitability. For their support, vendors must be viewed and treated as true business partners, not simply suppliers. This wasn’t how we did things in the past, but it has been instrumental in not just surviving but thriving. You adapt or die.

Podcast: Against the Odds, a High School Student Fights to Keep the Family Jewelry Store Alive
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E-commerce alone does not bring enough people through your door. We have found a way to give our clients the opportunity to do research on our website, narrow their selection and then come into our store for the final decision and purchase. We do this via our partnership with Stuller and the free addition of their online selling platform, which includes a cart system. It’s an easy addition to any website, it drives traffic to the store and it increases our online presence. — Jessica Rossomme, Mucklow’s Fine Jewelry, Peachtree City, GA

E-Futility

I have two stores; both have excellent web presence, nice SEOs, solid cost-per-click campaigns, display ad campaigns, and a nice social media following. Our websites show our inventory, which can be purchased online. We have included the e-commerce option in all of our advertising and marketing and even coded the site to offer sale discounts during events and holidays. All of this has been in place for six-plus months, and we are still yet to sell a single piece through the site. How about that! — Chad Elliott Coogan, Gems of La Costa, Carlsbad, CA

Hard to Keep Up

Trying to stay ahead of the many changes Google, Instagram and Facebook make after we have somewhat mastered their previous algorithms is a career in itself! Wish there were some Cliff Notes for us retailers! — Susan Eisen, Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches, El Paso, TX

Signet Silence

Why are we not talking about Signet and sexual assault? Talk about taking the glamour out of jewelry — or is this entire industry tone-deaf? — Alan Lindsay, Henry’s, Cape May, NJ

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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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