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Editor's Note

This Is How INSTORE’s Brain Squad Built a Community

Survey participants are a source of relevant, helpful information.



WHEN I BEGAN working for INSTORE in 2007, I was thrilled to learn about the Brain Squad as a resource.

At the time, many jewelers were not engaged in social media, and in fact were hoping it would just blow over. But while I heard those frustrations expressed over and over at trade show education sessions, hundreds of store owners and top managers were sharing stories with us and with one another via INSTORE’s Brain Squad surveys.

The Brain Squad built a community around jewelry retailers who had common concerns and experiences. For me, it simplified the process of building sources in an industry new to me. I could ask a question, reach out to people on the platform who responded, and often find all the experts I needed on any given topic.


When the pandemic hit in 2020, the Brain Squad was, as usual, an invaluable resource as we pivoted to change story topics and reshuffle our editorial schedule. We wanted to be relevant and helpful at a time we were all learning new ways of doing business. Contributors told us what they were doing to help their communities, especially first responders, and how they were making their stores safer, building their online businesses, making house calls, and learning how to meet with clients curbside and via Zoom.

Thanks to all the Brain Squad members who add so much to the INSTORE experience. (And make my job easier, too!)

This Is How INSTORE’s Brain Squad Built a Community

EIleen McClelland

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Run tests to see how your store ranks when someone asks their phone: “Siri, where can I get my ring repaired?” (Manager’s To-Do, p. 24)
  • Ask your family or trusted business friends where your blind spots are. (Ask INSTORE, p. 55)
  • When analyzing your marketing from last year, highlight any assumptions so you can track decisions based on them this year. (Andrea Hill, p. 51)
  • Before reaching out to a client, be sure you’re up to date on their life as much as you can be. (Kathleen Cutler, p. 54)
  • When you hear “it’s cheaper down the street,” tell the client that it’s easier for you to explain the price once than apologize for poor quality forever. (Peter Hannes, p. 52)

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.



It Was Time to Make a Decision. It Was Time to Call Wilkerson.

Except for a few years when he worked as an accountant, Jim Schwartz has always been a jeweler. He grew up in the business and after “counting beans” for a few years, he and his wife, Robin, opened Robin James Jewelers in Cincinnati, Ohio. “We were coming to a stage in our life where we knew we have to make a decision,” says Jim Schwartz. He and Robin wanted to do it right, so they called Wilkerson. The best surprise (besides surpassing sales goals)? “The workers and associations really care about helping us move out own inventory out of the store first. It was very important to us.”

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