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Many Thanks: INSTORE Readers Share a Cornucopia of Things They’re Grateful For

In a season for reflection, our readers share the things they’re most thankful for.

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LAST NOVEMBER, we asked the Brain Squad to tell us what they were most thankful for — both at work and in their personal lives. And to celebrate this year’s holidays, here’s a sampling. Though many of the answers may not surprise you — we heard from numerous retailers grateful for their customers, their staff, their families and their faith — we hope they’ll serve as a reminder, in times both bright and dark, of the blessings in your own life. Your peers and colleagues are thankful for …

 

“My customers allow me to earn a living. I’ve made many friends over the years — attended weddings, birthday parties, and engagement proposals, and visited them in hospitals, nursing homes, and funeral homes. I have generations of families who have been faithful customers, and we’ve laughed, cried, and shared our stories.” Hank Haan, Haan Jewelers, Byron Center, MI

“They take time to share special — and not so special — moments. This week, we heard about the births of several new grandchildren, and then we made a suite of jewelry for a 2-year-old from her deceased dad’s jewelry. What a remembrance.” Ray Du- Bose, R.S. Mann, Jr., Jeweler, Newnan, GA

“It gives me great joy to make people happy. I love to see a lady cry when she sees the ring we made from her mom’s diamond, or the young gal who just received her engagement ring. Women smile when they try on diamonds!” Rosanne Kroen, Rosanne’s Diamonds & Gold, South Bend, IN

 

“I still have a successful business, after losing both my watchmaker (who was killed in a home burglary) and my jeweler — my husband, who had a massive stroke and can no longer work. I have managed to stay in business because my two brothers, who have their own store, do most of my repairs. It works for all of us. I also have two employees willing to help me in any way, not just with the daily tasks of the store.” Sally Hovis, Nuechterlein’s Jewelry, Frankenmuth, MI

“Life! God has blessed me with living another day. I have survived cancer; anaphylactic shock three times; cellulitus; immune thrombocytopenic purpura (a rare platelet disorder), which is in remission; and asthma. Most recently, I was in the hospital when my blood pressure dropped to extremely low. I live by Philippians 1:20-24. For to live is Christ, yet to die is gain to be with Christ. I will remain a little while longer; my work is not yet done.” Brenda Reichel, Carats & Karats Fine Jewelry, Honolulu, HI

 

“Owning all my inventory and not owing anything to vendors or the banks makes my life much less stressful. It takes the pressure off. I learned from my dad early on that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t need it.” Kari Bottenberg-Akers, Akers Diamond Galleria, Topeka, KS

“Instilling my employees to take ownership of the business. I give them a lot of rope and let them make decisions. When I’m asked a question, I try to ask what they think first.” Jay Klos, Grogan Jewelers, Florence, AL

“We are having another banner year — up over 28 percent from last year (and we were up last year too!)! It’s all about training — every day, every week, don’t stop.” Alan Perry, Perry’s Emporium, Wilmington, NC

 

 

“I am grateful I am a citizen of the United States — our freedoms amaze me. The comfort level of our lives compared with other countries amazes me. That we are a blend of many nations, races, and religions makes us a kind and compassionate nation, and that also amazes me.” Dorothy Vodicka, The Gem Collection, Tallahassee, FL

“We just did a Haiti mission trip, and now every day I think of how blessed we are to have what we have. … We went back in late October 2013. This year, we have raised funds and finished 10 clean water wells, built a chicken house and supplied around 500 chickens, started a goat-breeding program with close to 100 goats, and will be finishing work on the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Laotchikit by completing the pews.” Oz Hefner, Oz’s Jewelers, Hickory, NC

 

 

“I can take 2-1/2-week vacations and not worry about the store. That’s how great my staff is.” Len Orendi, Wilmore Jewelers, West Mifflin, PA

“To have taken the time to wait for the right employee. She makes life and work better for us all.” Joanna Wurtele, Pointe Coupee Gallery, New Roads, LA

“My staff understand my moodiness and don’t plot to have me murdered or at least kidnapped until they finish the season without me interfering.” J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA

 

 

“We get to make meaningful items for customers that last generations. Just seeing the look on someone’s face when they receive that new engagement ring and how it makes us a part of their lives forever — priceless!” Brian Franklin, Generation Jewelers, Peoria, AZ

“After having spent more than 15 years in nonprofit management, with every board member believing they were my boss, I’m extraordinarily grateful that I own my own business. Now I only report to my wife!” Chuck Kuba, Iowa Diamond, Des Moines, IA

“This past year, I’ve made some great connections within the industry. It’s good to have retail friends who aren’t afraid of ‘competing’ for the same customers. It’s good to have consulting friends who share ideas. It’s good to have a few vendors who are compassionate enough to realize business is more than numbers on a sales form.” Candice Milstein, Wyatt Austin Jewelers, Schaumburg, IL

“Grateful to finally be working in the industry to which I’ve aspired for a half century.” Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, Folsom, CA

 

“People comment that it must be difficult to work as a husbandand- wife team 24/7. I look at it as a blessing. I get to share what’s going on when it happens, and often share the joy and the challenges.” Kathi Main, Kevin Main Jewelry, San Luis Obispo, CA

 

“My wife, Jill, stepped up to the plate and hit a home run managing the store while I was recovering from open-heart surgery.” Scott Lefcourt, Scottsdale Fine Jewelers, Scottsdale, AZ

“Dave, my husband of 39 years. He is a YMCA director and doesn’t fully ‘get’ this industry, but he gets me and knows how to encourage, support, and challenge me, all with a loving spirit and joyful heart. No one can make me laugh or smile quicker. He is truly a gem.” Mary Harding, G.G., Bellingham, WA

“My son works in the store with me and has displayed a work ethic that makes me proud. My daughter is a nurse practitioner and has given me three handsome grandsons.” Donnie Blanton, Brittany’s Fine Jewelry, Gainesville, FL

“London was born in March. Life has changed drastically since his arrival. He was born with a rare genetic disorder called mediumchain- acyl-coa-dehydrogenase deficiency, or MCADD. Since his condition requires full-time attention, my husband and I decided it would be best for me to work from home. Thankfully, I am still able to work in our amazing industry and tend to our son with ease. His condition, if not caught early, could have taken his life, so I am forever grateful to the hospital staff who helped our family get a quick diagnosis. London is now six months old, growing like a weed, and thriving alongside other babies his age. He has the biggest personality I’ve ever seen in a baby! Being a mom is totally different from what I thought it would be like. All in all, things are way better than I thought they would be. Life deals us all different cards. It’s up to each of us to choose how we let those cards play out.” Morgan Bartel, Collins Diamonds, Liberal, KS

 

“Working in the jewelry industry was never on my radar, so I am deeply grateful for the jeweler who hired me as an apprentice when I was in college. The moment I sat down at the bench and carved my first wax model, a simple 8 mm band, I was hooked. Twenty-eight years later I own my own store, design a line of jewelry, and do bucketloads of custom work for clients.” Valerie Naifeh, Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Oklahoma City, OK

“My parents built a reputation over a 40-year period before retiring in 1997. My responsibility to maintain it keeps me motivated to be the best I can every day.” Allison Love, Allison Love’s Fine Jewelry, Rock Hill, SC

“I am most thankful for being able to work the hours and days I choose. Being a nano-business, I was able to spend more time with my son as he grew up. When my parents were ill, I was able to spend time with them in the last months of their lives, which to me is priceless!” Lisa McConnell, Lisa McConnell Design Studio, Fort Worth, TX

“I am grateful that I am selfemployed because, as my wife points out, I could never work for someone else.” Chris Snowden, Snowden’s Jewelers, Wilmington, NC

“Soft, cool sheets at the end of a long day. Great music available anywhere and anytime on an MP3 player. The unequivocal devotion of my dogs.” Janne Etz, Contemporary Concepts, Cocoa, FL

“I like the view out my store windows.” Erin McMichael Hess, Accents, Colorado Springs, CO

“Just lowered my cholesterol 100 points.” David Beduze, Generation Jewelers, Watertown, WI

“Good eyesight and a well developed sense of humor!” Steven Wardle, Forest Beach Design, Chatham, MA

“Repairs! I get to see you twice!” Cathe Linton, Kokopelli of Warwick, Warwick, NY

“Time off!” Debrah L. Hobbs, Diamonds & Designs by None Other Goldsmith, Gahanna, OH

“Being alive!” Paul Krueger, Krueger Jeweler, Fort Atkinson, WI

“INSTORE magazine!” Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL

Josh WImmer has been a contributor to INSTORE since 2006. He has coordinated the annual America's Coolest Stores contest for several years. The job mostly involves pestering jewelry store owners to start their contest entries, pestering jewelry store owners to finish their contest entries, and figuring out computer problems over the phone from hundreds of miles away.

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