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The Big Story: Tales of Love, Woe and Weirdness

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TALES OF
LOVE, WOE AND
WEIRDNESS

WE STARTED COLLECTING TRUE TALES more than 10 years ago, and every time we think we’ve heard it all, you prove us wrong with more stories too unbelievable, too strange, too outlandish not to be true. As you keep telling us, you just can’t make this stuff up.
So, kick back, put your feet up, and enjoy our latest crop of real-life stories from the front lines of retail in our annual Summer Reading Issue. And if you’ve got any tales that
top these, be sure to share them with us!

COLLECTED FROM INSTORE’S BRAIN SQUAD
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MAR JEFFERSON GO

 

 


DOG WALKER

We had a customer come in and ask us for the “walking dog” charm. We did not know what he meant, so we pulled out our catalog of charms and he said, “There it is!” It turned out to be the Hebrew alphabet letter of “chai,” which represents good luck. If you look at it kind of sideways, I guess you can see the “walking dog.” Alex Weil, Martin’s Jewelry, Manhattan Beach, CA

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FOLLOW-UP

❯❯ A 4-year-old was in the store with her dad picking out a pair
of earrings for his wife. The girl told me she could have her ears pierced when she was 6. I gave her my card and told her when Mom and Dad said she could, she should call me and set up an appointment. She did just that. “I have your card,” came the voice down the line. “My parents said
I can get my ears pierced now.” Another satisfied customer. Pam Chehade, Pamela’s Fine Jewelry, Spring Green, WI

SMOOTH OPERATOR

❯❯ A newly engaged young couple brought in an heirloom wedding set and wanted to match
it with an additional band. The factors under consideration for the new band were not unusual at first: platinum or white gold, all diamonds or mixed with sapphires, etc. … Until they looked at channel setting or shared prong, then it became a first for me: The future groom wanted a “smooth to the touch” band for him while he held his lady’s hand. They practiced holding hands with each band, and selected one based on the smoothness test for his hand. Wendy Smith, Jimmy Smith Jewelers, Decatur, AL

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THE “TRAVELING”
GROOM-TO-BE

❯❯ We had a client in to design a wedding set for herself and her husband-to-be. Initially she brought in a paper ring with tape to determine his ring size, which
we told her wasn’t going to be accurate enough for the CAD design. We offered to give her a plastic ring sizing set to
take home to him, but she said, “Oh, he’s traveling for work. I just need to get these made.” We tried to work from the paper ring, but after expressing our concerns about the size, she brought us a sheet
of paper with a hole poked through it to measure from instead. We tried making a determination on a mandrel, but told her we really needed a solid measurement from a jewelry store wherever he
was traveling before we finalized his ring. After she left, I jokingly said, “How much you wanna bet he’s in prison?” Well, the next time she was in, she brought a shred of knotted fabric for our final measurement before going to casting. We went with the average of the two pieces of paper and the knotted fabric to pick a final size. I decided I would look up his name in a Google search just for kicks. Sure enough, he’s serving three consecutive life sentences in a state maximum security prison. The rings are done, and the wedding is this summer. I just pray we got it right so no one comes to break my legs! Jennifer Farnes, Revolution Jewelry Works, Colorado Springs, CO

NO GOOD DEED…

❯❯ It was Dec. 23 and a middle-aged man entered our store, I had just received a late fast-seller order from our vendor and was about to enter the inventory
into our system. He asked about a diamond pendant that was in our Christmas flier. I looked and realized that it had just come back in. I made the sale, had my staff wrap it, and off he went. Later that evening, I went to enter the piece into our system as I hadn’t gotten it done before I sold it. As I was entering the product, I realized that there was a mistake in the flier price and that I had charged this client $100 too much (as well as several other clients who had bought the same piece). After Christmas we went about returning the money we had overcharged. All went well except for that last client. I called the client, he wasn’t home but I left my store name with his wife. The next day he appeared incredibly angry and upset. Apparently, he had bought the necklace for his girlfriend … Tim Markwart, Assaly Marks and Hopkins, Nipawim, Saskatchewan, Canada

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INVISIBLE SALES HELP

A woman was looking at a quartz mini-skull bracelet and remarked
how she felt drawn to it even though it was nothing like what she normally wore. She left
the store, got just out of sight, turned around, came back in, and purchased it. She said as soon as she got outside, “‘The voices’ said, ‘Just go back and get it.’” Works for me! David Vogel, Raspberry, Jerome, AZ

EX, EXCERCISED

❯❯ One day, a woman came to our store with a wedding set to sell. She and her husband had
recently gotten a divorce. She had been holding onto the set for a few months in hopes of a reconciliation. She couldn’t wait for us to give her a price, so she left the pieces with us to review and asked us to call her with a quote. She returned on her lunch break, we gave her a quote and she declined and took the jewelry with her. This woman was very emotionally attached to this jewelry and also very emotional in general. Nearly at closing time, she returned wanting to sell the jewelry at the price we offered her earlier. She said, “I just got to thinking about it and decided just like Pontius Pilates did with the good Lord, just to wash my hands of it.” Not Pontius Pilate
… Pontius Pilates … like the workout. We tried very hard not to laugh. Nathan George, Joshua’s Fine Jewelry, Russellville, AR

OUT OF THIS WORLD

❯❯ A guy came in with a piece
of meteorite, peridot, rubies, blue topaz and more stuff he’d purchased on the internet. He wanted us to design an engagement ring that had all the gemstones orbiting around each other. We made an attempt to create something that was physically possible and it wasn’t good enough. He brought in a clay model he made to show us what he envisioned. We finally told him that we couldn’t do what he was asking and suggested he try using precious metal clay and make it himself. He screamed “Are you high?” I wish I could have screamed back at him “No, you are!” Candice Milstein, Wyatt Austin Jewelers, Schaumberg, IL

TO DEATH AND BEYOND

❯❯ We have a customer who has been making layaway payments to us for two years for her “death ring.” She claims that she’s going to be buried with it and that no one in her family deserves it. Let’s just say it involves a platinum ring with a heart-shaped diamond and two penguins.
We love to make our customers happy, but we’re definitely scratching our heads on this project. Mary Jo Chanski, Hannoush Jewelers, Rutland, VT

WOW, HE’S SO… HAIRY

❯❯ We are a pet-friendly shop and sometimes customers surprise us a little with what they bring through the door. One incident involved one of our sales associates and a couple with a stroller. Our employee, Emily, was helping the couple look for something, and she happened to glance in the stroller. Attached to the netting covering the stroller was a little monkey leering out. It definitely gave Emily a fright. The couple was, of course, looking for monkey-themed jewelry! We’ve also had customers bring in a sugar glider and let it fly around and interact with the staff. We’ve had snakes, cats, dogs and a pig in a stroller. No lions though! Carol Drake, Touch of Silver Gold & Old, Nashville, IN

TRIAL BY FIRE

❯❯ We make a tradition of copying in color each new employee’s first check. Then we will burn their check in front of them and say their work was subpar for the first week. You ought to see how big their eyes get when we do this. Then we all laugh and hand over the real check. Tim Wright, Simply Unique Jewelry Designs, Yorktown, VA

ONE MAN’S…

❯❯ A gentleman bought a new Cadillac SUV for $48,000 and then drove his wife to our store and let her pick out a diamond for the same price! Teddie Gause, Gause and Son Jewelers, Ocala, FL

POWER OF KINDNESS

❯❯ A woman came into the store to have a ring repaired and she was an absolute nightmare
to deal with: rude, angry and intimidating. We saw her marching toward the door to pick up her ring about a week later, and Amanda “drew the short straw.” She braced herself for the barrage of rudeness that was sure to come. Amanda decided the only way to deal with this woman was to shower her with kindness. She smiled, asked her how her day was, addressed her by name and gushed over how beautiful her ring was. The customer slammed down her repair ticket and credit card then marched angrily out of the store. As she got to the door, she stopped, turned around and angrily asked Amanda what her name was. Amanda was terrified she had done something to further offend this nasty woman. Instead, the woman thanked Amanda for asking her how her day was and remembering her name. She started crying and explained to Amanda that her husband had recently asked for a divorce, kicked her out of her home, and she had just been diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. The customer cried and hugged Amanda. They kept in touch until the woman died a couple months later. Karen Hollis, K. Hollis Jewelers, Batavia, IL

KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON

❯❯ Had a man ask us to solder
a chain connecting his nipple rings, then he removed his shirt. Had a problem keeping my cool that day. Susan Schube, Avalon Jewelers/ Gallery, Zionsville, IN


A woman came in to celebrate 25 years of marriage. She explained
that she was celebrating 25 years, and it took only three husbands to accomplish this. Dan Decker, Decker Diamond Jewelers, Ebensburg, PA

A REPAIR’S A REPAIR

❯❯ We are a watch repair service, and sometimes we get really odd requests. Today someone asked us if we repair shoes! Shevvy Baker, SPB Designs, Louisville, KY

SAY CHEESE

❯❯ I recently had a woman come in with a necklace she had bought online. She wanted to exchange the chain for one we stocked, because “the one that came on it was really cheesy.” I said I would be happy to sell her one, but I couldn’t take hers in trade. She said she’d have to take her business elsewhere if that was my attitude! Tory Michel, Tory’s Jewelry, Marblehead, MA

SILENT PARTNERS

❯❯One time we had a gay man shopping for wedding rings
for his partners. Obviously in
a three-way relationship the two silent partners stood in the corner while the one who spoke explained in detail the needs
of each. When we tried to talk with the two silent partners, even to just acknowledge them, they remained completely quiet and said nothing. I guess we had to learn the rules, but at least we sold three diamond bands! Shawn Higgins, D & H Sustainable Jewelers,
San Francisco, CA


NO-ASSUMPTION ZONE

If a guy comes in with red, white and blue hair, tells you he’s in a band and needs an engagement ring, don’t assume anything! Turns out mine has nine or so Grammys now. Chuck Kuba, Iowa Diamond, Des Moines, IA

THE TEST OF TIME

❯❯ We had sold a pre-owned Rolex to a customer over 20 years ago. She called recently saying it had never kept good time and that she would like to return it. Alisha Moore, Toner Jewelers, Overland Park, KS

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Downsizing? Wilkerson Is Here to Help

Orin Mazzoni, Jr., the owner of Orin Jewelers in Garden City and Northville, Michigan, decided it was time to downsize. With two locations and an eye on the future, Mazzoni asked Wilkerson to take the lead on closing the Garden City store. Mazzoni met Wilkerson’s Rick Hayes some years back, he says, and once he made up his mind to consolidate, he and Hayes “set up a timeline” for the sale. Despite the pandemic, Mazzoni says the everything went smoothly. “Many days, we had lines of people waiting to get in,” he says, adding that Wilkerson’s professionalism made it all worthwhile. “Whenever you do an event like this, you think, ‘I’ve been doing this my whole life. Do I really need to pay someone to do it for me?’ But then I realized, these guys are the pros and we need to move forward with them.”

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