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Podcast: Doug Meadows Shares the Ups and Downs of His Life as a Jeweler

It’s a tumultuous story. It’s also a pretty common one.

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JIMMYCAST EPISODE 8: DOUG MEADOWS SHARES HIS UPS AND DOWNS (23:07 MINUTES)


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ON THIS MONTH’S JIMMYCAST, the focus turns to co-host Doug Meadows, who shares an abridged history of his life in jewelry retail.

The interest in Doug’s story is probably not in its uniqueness, but rather its familiarity. In fact, podcast host Jimmy DeGroot says at the end of the show that “I bet you 99% of the jewelers that are listening to this right now, they would have a very similar story in terms of how things came along.”

Listen to this month’s episode to see how Doug’s story compares to your own. (Or watch the video below.)

SHOW NOTES

Doug starts off by telling how his family business — a jewelry trade shop — was impacted by the 1968 Detroit riots (2:50) and a massive fire that occurred shortly after they moved to the Detroit suburb of Plymouth.

For the family, these events were tumultuous. But Doug says, “when you’re a kid, it’s a lot of fun. You get to go see the fire trucks and all this stuff.” During high school, Doug worked in the shop polishing jewelry — not to mention “learning how to clean the toilets and scrub the floors”.

In 1982, he “got tired of the cold and snow” and moved to Georgia (5:40), working at a mall jeweler in a mall across from the regional headquarters of the Ford Motor Company, where various entertaining adventures ensued (6:30). “That was my first introduction to retail-slash-benchwork,” says Doug.

Later, Doug made his first venture into entrepreneurship — taking a tiny, 10-square-foot space to do repairs and custom work within an existing jewelry store (9:50).

Eventually, the store owner decided he wanted to get out of jewelry business to move into fast food. Initially, Doug sorrowed over the prospect of losing his job. But his partner Merle had a different idea. (10:30)

“Let’s buy the store,” said Merle. “How are going to do that?” asked Doug. “I don’t know, but let’s try,” said Merle. They were successful in buying the store, but problems lay ahead. “We were both great jewelers, but we were not great business owners or accountants,” says Doug. “We definitely stumbled. We ended up successfully running the business into bankruptcy. You talk about an emotional mess. It was not fun.”

“But there is life after bankruptcy,” he adds. And Doug shares some of the things that he did to revive his business (12:10), including connecting with a local minister who provided both spiritual and business guidance, as well as partnering with his brother, David, to form David Douglas Jewelers.

Doug also tells of another financial low point (16:20) about 10 years ago, when the state of Georgia sought to collect back sales taxes from many years prior. This resulted in a forced restructuring and his son Joseph being named the owner of the company. In some ways, says Doug, this was a positive event that cleared the decks for the business’s future growth and stability. “I took care of a lot of problems that a lot of jewelers have with succession, and how do you deal with your kids, and it was all decided for me.” He jokes about Joseph: “I hope he has the compassion for his father and takes good care of him in his elderly years.”

He talks about innovations he has tried in recent years, and shares his ultimate love — teaching the lessons he has learned to younger jewelers (21:50).

And Doug and Jimmy promise to talk about “the tractor story” in a future episode (22:50).


Jimmy DeGroot is a jewelry store manager who has been in the business for over 20 years. Now he spends his time training teams around the world at jewelrystoretraining.com and sharing marketing advice through his blog site at jewelrymarketingguy.com. Sign up for training videos here.

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