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Commentary: The Business

Secret Shopping Is Wasting Everyone’s Time

This Denver jeweler won’t be playing detective in competitors’ stores.

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FACING COVID-19 head-on as a jeweler hasn’t been easy. Each of us has had to make changes to successfully navigate these trying times. Many jewelers have shifted to an appointment-only basis to ensure the safety of their staff, their clients, and to keep the doors open.

Appointment-only, whether a temporary or permanent change, has its perks, like being able to provide clients with a more intimate shopping experience, but it certainly can slow down the flow of any retailer. A common practice in the jewelry industry is sending employees out to “secret shop” other jewelry stores — but shouldn’t this practice be a thing of the past, given the current world we are living in?

Moving to an appointment-only basis has only proven and strengthened the value of time. Is it morally sound to take an hour or more of a jeweler’s time, and in turn money, for secret shopping practices? I cannot answer this for any jeweler, but I can tell you the reasons why my brand will not be using this practice; I respect jewelers in my local community, their time and money, and commitment to surviving through the pandemic. It would dishearten me to think I took their valuable time that could have allowed them to book a paying client. Even more importantly, there is the risk of unnecessary exposure of COVID-19 to my employee or another jeweler’s employee.

If you knew you were secret-shopped in today’s world on an appointment-only basis, how would it make you feel? Now more than ever, it’s important that we come together in the jewelry industry, that we uplift one another and learn from one another. Instead of sending out a secret shopper to your competitor, take the plunge, take the honest approach, and reach out to your competitor directly. Ask to get together in a safe manner, one that honors both of your time and allows for collaborative thinking. It might be surprising how much more you could learn.

It is the nature of this industry to be competitive, and what fun it is! But any true competitor must also exhibit a sense of respect, honor, and appreciation for their competitors. There are approximately 10 million people worldwide working in the diamond and jewelry industry, a staggering number, and how lucky we all are to be part of it. Only when we all come together can we emulate the strength of the diamond.

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Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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