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Big Survey

Retail Jewelers Share Their Lowest Points During the Pandemic

Most suffered business losses. Many others suffered personally.



WE ASKED BIG SURVEY respondents to share their lowest points during the pandemic. Many suffered personal and business losses during the pandemic; some even lost longtime customers over mask requirements. Others suffered from looting during the riots of summer 2020. One even had their database hacked by Russians and held for ransom — really!

  • “When we were hit by looters two days before we were scheduled to reopen after the nationwide shutdown. Looting and protests continued out front of our store for days. That was a rough week!”
  • “Losing longtime customers and clients to Covid.”
  • “Having a major burglary just two weeks after re-opening in June 2020.”
  • “Trying to manage everyone’s different expectations and levels of comfort.”
  • “We were hacked by Russians. It was as you read about, and a ransom was paid. For everyone who thinks their inventory is their most important asset, they are wrong. It is years of history with your clients, suppliers, and your business.”
  • “Not being able to be open when the building was closed with no break in the rent.”
  • “Getting shut down for a second time four days after my dad passed away. We lost Christmas due to shutdowns.”
  • “We closed for six weeks. I got depressed and realized just how much I get from interactions with customers every day.”
  • “Being called an F-ing C word because we asked folks to wear a mask. This by a more than 20-year customer. Broke my heart.”
  • “People spitting in our faces or threatening us with guns over required mask-wear.”
  • “Seeing how it affected our friends, neighbors and older clients.”
  • “April 2020. It was looking like we would not be able to keep any of our employees because we had no sales.”
  • “As a manager, filing for unemployment. It was heartbreaking, but it saved another employee’s job, and it was temporary.”
  • “Sadness of hearing friends, family and jewelry associates passing.”
  • “When I contracted Covid and had to close the store again for another two weeks.”
  • “In Massachusetts, we were considered non-essential. There was no real guidance from our governor in regard to reopening. He would set a reopen date and we would prepare, and then he would extend the closure. It made planning a reopen extremely difficult. The original state mandated closing was supposed to be for two weeks, but in the end, it was four months.”
  • “While we were closed (state mandated), we were very angry that big box stores (Costco, Target) could be opened and were taking our sales.”
  • “When I couldn’t have customers in my store, and I had to help people out in the parking lot like a crack dealer. Changing car fob batteries, watch batteries, and cutting rings off people who ate too much over the shutdown.”

The 2021 Big Survey was carried out between August and September, attracting almost 600 anonymous responses from owners of independent jewelry stores across the United States and Canada. The full results can be found online here.


Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at



When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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