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LFS Consultants Names Director of Sales

He will help implement the company’s sales strategy and business development plans.

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Darren Fries

(PRESS RELEASE) PITTSBURGH, PA – LFS Consultants, a recognized leader in jewelry liquidations, announces Darren Fries has joined the company as its new vice-president & director of sales. Fries was most recently vice-president for Simplex Consulting, LLC. He will join Melvin Schmidt, COO of LFS Consultants, implementing the company’s sales strategy and business development plans intended to increase their presence within the liquidation sales market.

“We are enthusiastic about Darren joining our team.” said Schmidt. “His extensive experience working with jewelers and other retailers across the county, means he really understands the challenges they face and is prepared to discuss the best options open to them.”

Fries attributes the work ethic and customer service focus of both LFS, and their parent company Don Conkey & Sons, as the main reason for accepting this new position. “Having a chance to work with a consulting group that shares the same values I have built my career on was the main driving force behind my decision to join LFS Consultants.”

Fries comes to LFS Consultants with over 27 years of sales and management experience in retail consulting. He has worked with both independent stores and national chains analyzing and resolving key business issues facing owners, including financial, marketing, promotions, trade shows and management. Fries has worked with jewelry stores that are members of RJO, IJO, CBG as well as AGS stores.

Like most retail segments today, the retail jewelry industry is undergoing constant change. The ability to adapt to these changes whether through financial analysis or marketing adjustments cannot be underestimated. Fries looks forward to expanding the number of clients LFS Consultants can help, and he is well positioned to be a valuable resource when working with financial institutions and asset based lending groups.

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“I am excited to help LFS Consultants assist future clients who face challenges with their business. We know how to plan an event that will produce the highest return for inventory and assets.”

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JBT President Richard Weisenfeld Retires

Erich Jacobs will take over the role.

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Erich Jacobs

(PRESS RELEASE) WARWICK, RI — Richard Weisenfeld, president of the Jewelers Board of Trade, announced that he will retire as of Aug. 31.

He Weisenfeld thanked the board for the opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity during which time the organization was streamlined and reorganized to meet the needs of its members.

Michael Kaplan, chairman of the board, accepted the resignation on behalf of JBT and acknowledged the many years of service of Weisenfeld as a member, a director and, most recently, as president of JBT.

Erich Jacobs, vice president of IT, will succeed to the office of president of JBT on Sept. 1. Jacobs joined JBT in 2018 and currently has operational responsibility for all aspects of IT and collection operations. Jacobs received his bachelor’s degree in economics and master’s degree in business from the University of Wisconsin. His background in technology and business is of great importance to JBT, Kaplan said.

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Press Releases

AJS August 2019 Show Is One for the Record Books

Through new routes, AJS provided its attendees the tools needed to stay competitive in an evolving marketplace and retained its reputation as the fun show.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ATLANTA, GA — The Atlanta Jewelry Show, the jewelry industry’s largest regional trade event in the country, recently concluded its August, 2019 edition. During the four-day event, AJS August brought together over 1,200 industry professionals, and a record number of new buyers. “While staying true to our roots by providing exceptional products and resources for independent jewelers, we were proud to expand our theme of New Routes, through introducing new concepts and feature areas throughout the show that were extremely well-received by all attendees,” states Executive Director Libby Brown. “Our overall mission is to strengthen and maintain our jewelry community, and this show solidified that commitment. I believe my team and I successfully accomplished our goal of providing a comprehensive event that literally changed the course, and positively impacted the businesses of many retailers and vendors alike.”

The vast array of vendors, including many veterans and newcomers to AJS, played a huge role in the success of the show. Troy Hailey, With You Lockets, reported, “From a sales standpoint, we had our best show yet. We met our goal, which was a robust one, because of the high quality of buyers in attendance. This is our favorite show,” Hailey continued.

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The upbeat atmosphere and reports of steady order-writing and growing retail attendance from outside the show’s traditional region had exhibitors talking. New AJS Exhibitor Earth Pebbles owner Rebekah Anderson, GG, said, “We immediately fell in love with this show.” Anderson added, “Everyone is so friendly and helpful, and we were thrilled with the constant traffic. We will most definitely be back.”

The aisles were filled with retailers as they visited with friends and made new connections. Buyers Josh and Darrell, The Little Gold Mine, (TN) explain, “We have not missed a show in nearly ten years, and we never plan to. The team you have assembled here is top-notch and they go out of their way to make sure we are happy, productive and safe.” New buyer Bar-Kay Jewelers (PA) owner Kim says, “I have been to many shows, but never one as wonderful as this Atlanta show. Everyone is so hospitable and there’s so much going on, at all times, on the buying floor. Great vendors, great times. I’m thrilled and I am definitely coming back!”

AJS-University

With a phenomenal lineup of educational sessions presented by influential industry experts, Atlanta Jewelry Show provided an exceptional package of educational opportunities for every sector of the industry. Powered by the support of Diamond Producers Association, Instore Marketing, Stuller and Synchrony Financial, over 50 educational seminars and panels, and onsite GIA Grading Lab Sessions were featured at AJS.

When asked about the success of the event, Director of Education Cindy Chandler said, “Education is an integral part of the Atlanta Jewelry Show. We are entrusted to provide our attendees with real insights and real solutions to take back to their store, and we take that very seriously. As promised, this event offered only the finest learning opportunities to our valued retailers. It would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors and exhibitor members, and heartfelt thanks to all speakers who graciously shared their time and expertise with the AJS community. See you next decade!”, Cindy added.

Hundreds of retailers were on hand ready to be inspired, and they were not disappointed. Click this link to view select sessions on the AJS Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pg/atlantajewelryshow/videos/?ref=page_internal.

Kids Jewelry Camp

The Atlanta Jewelry Show Kids Jewelry Camp was a tremendous success, with 24 young jewelers enrolled. Under the guidance of Coordinator Mindy Spritz and certified jewelry instructors, KJC Rock Stars learned several jewelry techniques, marketing strategies and even hosted the KJC Trunk Show, where they displayed, sold and shared the inspiration behind their handmade creations. Spritz states, “It’s overwhelming when I think about when KJC debuted less than two years ago, and now to see where we are today. I think I can safely say we are truly making a difference in these children’s lives, and we are honored to play a role in cementing their legacy, thereby ensuring the future of the jewelry industry. It was such a joy work with these immensely talented students, and we are grateful for the AJS community’s support with this endeavor.”

Parents were delighted with the camp and were grateful this opportunity was available for their children. John Carter, AGS President and Owner, Jack Lewis Jewelers, said “My daughter has literally grown up in this business. She learned more during these two days than her entire life. What a great program.”

The next session will be during the Spring show, March 8-9, 2020. Interested campers should register early, as the camp was sold out in August. Designed to foster excitement and passion for the jewelry industry among our next generation, KJC is open to children of AJS exhibitors and retail buyers, ages 7 and up.

The Runway

Atlanta Jewelry Show introduced an all new pavilion, The Runway, A Brand New Experience. This upgraded area included industry favorites Beverley K, Danwak, Waterford Jewelry, XO Jewels and Zeghani, each housed in specialty booths. A dedicated hostess, flight attendants and a pilot ensured that buyers “walked the Runway” in style and experienced a new way to shop for merchandise. Limited booths available for March 2020, so interested exhibitors should contact AJS immediately to reserve space.

Occasions Shop

Occasions Shop, successfully launched at the spring show, was expanded to include more breathtaking geodes, opals, lighting, luxury gift items and high-end display units. This area featured innovative methods of enhancing a store’s aesthetic and offered innovative merchandising tips. With all proceeds benefiting Kids Jewelry Camp, the Occasions Shop offered yet another solution to help independent jewelers succeed in the marketplace.

CAD Challenge

Another popular AJS CAD-CAM Challenge made history, and AJS recognizes outstanding competitors Meghan Proctor, Designer/Manager, Hubbell Jewelry Design; Gary Dawson, Owner/Designer, Gary Dawson Designs, and Shele Letwin, Owner/Designer, Shele’s Jewelry Design Factory. This event was a real show- stopper, as hosts Joel McFadden and Kyle Bullock kept attendees, plus livestream viewers, informed and entertained during this intense, all-day competition. Meghan was named the Winner for her inspired creation based on an original Rémy Rotenier hand rendering.

Loupe + One-Stop Shop

An entirely redesigned Loupe and One-Stop-Shop neighborhood was quite an attraction, created in the spirit of small-town America, and complete with green space, park benches and gathering areas. Attendees were enticed to follow the road to the American Watchmakers Clockmakers Institute Mobile Classroom for expert timepiece instruction inside its massive bus, right on the show floor. Along the route, many resources offered retail solutions, including marketing, software, retail services, trade organizations, engraving and bead stringing. There was even a podcast recording by AJS partners Four Grainer and WJA, happening live, which was a tremendous success. Listen up for Inside the Jewelry Trade’s exclusive coverage of AJS at https://fourgrainer.com/inside-the-jewelry-trade-radio-show/.

Special Features

Buyers and exhibitors alike enjoyed many special touches at the show, including the ever-popular Mingle after-party. Another huge success, with more people than ever in attendance, further proving that the AJS jewelry community knows how to party. Surprise pop-up parties were sprinkled all over the show floor with tasty snacks and trendy drinks to enjoy. Carpool Karaoke in a luxury sportscar, relaxation areas with massages and cool beverages, themed pit stops like Whiskey Business, and Studio 555 – all designed to add to the vibrant and fun Southern Hospitality that is exclusive to AJS.

Future Show Dates

March 7-9, 2020 and August 8-10, 2020

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Press Releases

IJO Concludes Semi-Annual Conference

It was held in Pittsburgh.

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(PRESS RELEASE) SOUTHPORT, CT — The Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO) recently returned from its semi-annual conference, which was held in Pittsburgh, PA. Several changes were announced and implemented and were applauded by the membership.

“We have a very strong and active Board of Directors, made up of store owners as well as our “NextGen” members,” stated IJO president & CEO Jeff Roberts, “and they provide us with feedback from the general membership – and we listen! We’re constantly striving to improve this organization and we’re stronger than we’ve ever been.”

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Members had suggested revamping the format of Sunday morning’s General Session, which always offered an inspirational keynote speaker, and Johnny Cupcakes didn’t disappoint. But change-up they wanted so IJO eliminated several announcements by transferring them to the Saturday breakfast, and brought in comedian Scott Bloom as an Emcee who provided some hilarity and kept the program hopping.

The first announcement Roberts made was a $500 reduction in membership dues, beginning with calendar 2020. “For years we’ve had a co-op program whereby members received $500 at year-end by using the IJO logo and tagline in their advertising,” Roberts stated further. “We realized members are busy and they were leaving money on the table by not submitting for co-op dollars, so we eliminated it.”

A new and very welcome addition was IJO provided snacks in the buying room both mornings and afternoons, plus a sumptuous full lunch for all retailers on Monday. According to Mike Youkilis, Board Rep from Midwest Diamond Distributors, “The IJO show we just finished in Pittsburgh was a huge success in business and the amazing additions of refreshments for all 3 days of the show were fantastic. Coffee and soda and donuts, bagels, cookies, popcorn and chocolate-covered everything, plus very ample passing of gourmet food at the end of the day were great! The free lunch on Monday for all retailers was well received. Of course, the free beer, free wine, and free mixed drinks every day were not so bad either. Like I always say – the family that eats together, stays together.”

“We’ve also created some new partnerships to better serve our members and to make the organization stronger,” Roberts added. “The first is Porte Marketing, who brings over thirty years of marketing experience and a variety of different tools to help them – the independent retailers – become more successful. In addition, I have hired Stephen Barnes from Barnes Jewelers in Goldsboro, NC, as a consultant for IJO. Stephen brings an enthusiastic and passionate attitude to not only help the IJO retailer, but to also help make IJO even better.”

Rich Bennett from P.K. Bennett Jewelers in Mundelein, Illinois summed it up simply. “We have been members of IJO for the past 10 years. It has been the best business decision we have ever made. The Pittsburgh show was just wow! From the new daily formats and the unbelievable energy in the seminars and buying room it was very evident that IJO has listened to its members and responded in a big way. This is not your father’s organization anymore! “

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