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Commentary: The Business

Daniel Spirer: Embrace The New Normal

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The Business: Embrace The New Normal

The times we live in are presenting us with new customers and new challenges. We have to change with them.

BY DANIEL SPIRER

Published in the September 2013 issue

Ever watched the television show called The New Normal? It’s about a gay couple that wants to adopt a baby. They find a surrogate who has a daughter already, and they all become an extended family. Throw in a disapproving mother, and it’s not only an entertaining concept but, in fact, quite revealing about the times we live in.

So what’s the new normal confronting jewelers? For me, it’s been any number of things:

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Having a month in the middle of the year better than my December (and, no, it wasn’t one huge sale).
Dealing with customers who won’t wear diamonds because: 1) they’re conflict diamonds; 2) they destroy the environment when they are mined; or 3) they’re what everyone else wears.
Having customers request synthetic diamonds because they find them scientifically interesting. (Admittedly, I’m not far from MIT.)
Re-educating customers who get misinformation on the Web, who expect to pay a price they saw on the Web, who don’t want to pay sales tax because they don’t have to on the Web.
Coping with gold prices four times higher than they were seven years ago and gemstone and diamond prices that are rising because: 1) better material is being mined out of existence; 2) people are insisting on less environmental destruction in the mining; 3) ethical mining practices are becoming more widespread; and 4) Third World nations with resources are becoming First World nations with citizens who want better pay.

So what is the poor jeweler to do?

Well, for one, you have to stand up and embrace the changes. It does you no good to simply whine about them. What’s the latest technology available? Buy it, learn to use it and embrace it. And sell it to the customer! You have to change up your sales pitch to accommodate the gay customers, the straight customers, and everyone in between. You cannot believe how many gay couples have told me how horribly they are treated elsewhere and how nice it was to work with someone who couldn’t care less about who they are.

If you can’t compete with Internet pricing find products people can’t buy online. Can’t compete with online diamond prices? Stock up on sapphires and colored stones and sell them instead.

If all you do is sit around and blame the media, the Internet, the government, gold prices or whatever other outside influences you can think of for your lack of growth or lack of profits then you are doing something wrong.

So get out there and embrace the new normal, because it simply is not going away. If you do, there is sure to be more, and better, business in your future.

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COMMENTARY BY DANIEL SPIRER

Daniel Spirer is the owner of Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers in Cambridge, MA.

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