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Smooth Sellers

Smooth Seller: Shelly Goldberg



“Smooth Seller” from Montreal says flattery is his secret weapon.

[h3]Shelly Goldberg[/h3]

[h5]Lou Goldberg Jewellers; Montreal, QC[/h5]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Bio[/componentheading]

[dropcap cap=T]he Goldberg men are smooth, all right. Shelly Goldberg, 54, always wanted to emulate his dad, a jeweler with enough charm to make women swoon, and enough integrity to make the family business into a Montreal icon. Lou Goldberg founded Lou Goldberg Jewellers in 1946, and at 87, still accompanies Shelly to trade shows. Shelly is now president and works with older brother Joel and younger brother Eric. Lou Goldberg Jewellers has a 1,600-square-foot showroom and another 600 square feet of office space. “Our original office was right in the heart of downtown Montreal,” Shelly says. “We stayed there until 1976. Then we moved to Green Avenue in the tony city of Westmount, where many wealthy Montrealers live.” The store specializes in Akoya, South Sea and Tahitian pearls. Twice a year, Shelly embarks on a five-city trunk-show tour across Canada, bringing the goods to extremely loyal customers. “I go the extra mile. I’ve flown to Vancouver to deliver earrings and flown home the same day,_ he says. EILEEN MCCLELLAND [/dropcap]

[componentheading]Smooth Seller Interview[/componentheading]


[blockquote class=orange]Flattery is my secret weapon. It’s easy to make a sale when you make somebody feel good. [/blockquote]

• When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a jeweler, like my dad. I started coming to the store whenever there was a day off school. I’d put all the blue rings together, all the red rings together. I’d make all the pins straight, put all the bracelets in a line. I always loved holding the pearls in my hand. There were always gorgeous strands of cultured pearls.

• The first piece of jewelry I ever owned was a small initial ring I got from my dad when I was in the second grade. It’s sitting on my desk right now. I had it inscribed with my older son’s initials.

• I joined the business in 1973. I was 19. We were a different kind of store then. We were an upstairs jeweler, in an office building right in the heart of Montreal. It’s a family business in every sense of the word. I looked after things for my dad, went to the repair guys and the polishing guys. We made everything then. It’s different now. We make maybe 10 percent, and 90 percent we import or have ordered for us special.

• I started working when gold really went nuts. My first big sale was to a bachelor who came in with a gorgeous lady. He bought a huge I.D. bracelet in 14K yellow gold that was 1-inch-wide with a lapis lazuli background with his initials on top. He bought his girlfriend a pair of diamond earrings. This was a $4,000 purchase in 1974.

• My first big diamond ring sale was about $20,000. It was a 4-carat stone. I was 22 years old and there was no way in the world I should have been selling such a ring. But we’re an icon. We just celebrated our 60th anniversary in business. We’re known for being honorable, dedicated and active in the community.


• We don’t sell jewelry. We sell trust, and we sell dedication.

[blockquote class=orange] To get psyched up for a day at work, I always go to the gym, have a good workout, a hot shower and a good breakfast. [/blockquote]

• The new generation, they don’t trust a soul; they’re not loyal to a soul. They’ll travel across town to save a dollar. They’ll sit in front of the computer and buy a diamond on the Internet. I’m a senior citizen in the industry. I’m an older generation of the jewelry business.

• The key to our business is not selling. It’s finding. You have to find the right piece of jewelry at the right price, and then be able to find someone who would appreciate something special, and say “I have got the best piece of jewelry in the whole world for you.” That’s what I love.

• Often we’re competing for price. You can’t sell a 10-carat diamond for $1 million here if you paid $500,000 for it. You’re probably only going to get $550,000. There’s no such thing as a full markup on big things in Canada. You have to give your client good value.

• My biggest sales day ever? I do a trunk show in different cities across Canada. I did $200,000 in one day that included two South Sea pearl strands and two different Riviera necklaces as well as a couple of diamond rings and earrings.


• What did I learn from my father? My father is an extremely charming man. Women swoon for him. He’s got an air about him. He’s not a handsome man, but he is charming. He taught me that. I’m not in his league, but I’m not far away. I have much more fun with the women than the men at a party. I love talking sports with the men, but I have much more in common with women.

• My favorite customer is anybody who comes in with an open mind.

• The mistake I catch myself making most frequently is looking away from clients while talking.

• A good luck charm? When I travel for trunk shows, I’ve taken the same pair of brown and black shoes with me for the last 15 years, but I do not wear them during the rest of the year.

[blockquote class=orange] Don’t sell for the sake of selling. That’s not the way I was taught. Be honest and straightforward with them. [/blockquote]

• Before a trunk show, I get nervous, and I always breathe deeply. It’s like a big football game. I have to calm myself because some serious money is exchanged. You’re unsure of what you’re going to sell. I travel with jewelry and I can’t take the whole store with me, I have to pick and choose, so I’m unsure if I’ve brought the right jewelry. I always breathe deeply on that trip.

• The most memorable movie about sales I’ve seen is Glengarry Glen Ross about selling land in Florida, and how nasty and deceiving salespeople can be. They were whores. They’d backstab each other and they’d be selling what was really swampland in Florida. Just horrible. But a great movie. It’s a lesson for a salesperson, what not to be.

[span class=note]This story is from the January 2008 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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