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Smart Managers: Lara Bergset




Smart Managers: Lara Bergset




Published in the October2012 issue

LOCATION: Victoria, BC

Lara Bergset began working for her father, Idar, at age 12. About a decade later, she was managing the store. “I started by cleaning the toilets,” she jokes. “And I still clean the toilets.” Now 43, she runs a tight ship in the Cool Store’s compact 250-square foot showroom, selling Idar’s handmade designs alongside longtime employee Lance Glenn, and designing the shop’s ads and window displays, among other things. “I love all customers, even the crazy ones. I like designing, too. But my favorite part is selling,” she says. “Every time you make a sale, it’s so much fun, because that’s the adrenaline rush.”

SALES TECHNIQUE: This sounds superficial, but I focus on being their friend. I’m trying to win their trust. I ask about their family. I ask what they do. It makes my job fun! But ultimately, it is about making a living.


MOTIVATION: When we have a good sales day, we go out for dinner and it’s on the business credit card. Unfortunately — or fortunately! — we can end up eating out too often.

BEST BOOK: Rhinoceros Success, which I read about in INSTORE. It teaches you to not be so sensitive. Because I’m so close to what we do, I used to take everything quite personally. Now I have a thicker skin.

BEING BLONDE: People assume I’m stupid all the time. They want to talk to Lance even though I know more about jewelry than he does. I used to take offense. Now I don’t notice it. I just want us to make the sale.

DISPLAYS: More is better. We’re on a busy street, and it catches people’s eyes. We’ll fill up the whole bottom of the window with stuff like gum balls or candy hearts or rocks.

PITFALL: Trying to please everyone. You have to focus on your customer base, rather than hoping to attract every possible client. And you can’t have the best product and the best service and the best price — just pick two and focus on those.

ENDING A PARTNERSHIP: If you know it’s going to happen, just do it as soon as you can. The longer you put it off, the worse it will be.


LOYALTY: I usually give good customers 2 percent off — my mother’s gonna kill me for saying that. And every year we do a Christmas pin. Most people buy those, but special customers get them for free.

PET PEEVE: Customers asking me to copy pieces from pictures they’ve brought in off the Internet. Our designs are copyright- protected, and so are other designers’ works.

GETTING INTO THE BIZ: You have to come up with a concept. You can’t just buy and sell anymore. It takes more than just opening a store these days.

“You can’t have the best service, price and product. pick two.”



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Wilkerson Helped This Jeweler to Navigate His Retirement Sale Despite a Pandemic

Hosting a going-out-of-business sale when the coronavirus pandemic hit wasn’t a part of Bob Smith’s game plan for his retirement. Smith, the owner of E.M. Smith Jewelers in Chillicothe, Ohio, says the governor closed the state mid-way through. But Smith chose Wilkerson, and Wilkerson handled it like a champ, says Smith. And when it was time for the state to reopen, the sale continued like nothing had ever happened. “I’d recommend Wilkerson,” he says. “They do business the way we do business.”

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