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Three-Quarters of Jewelers Surveyed Asking Staff To Wear Masks

Only a few say they’ll take anyone’s temperature.



INSTORE survey on wearing masks at work

AS JEWELRY STORES across North America reopen, their owners and managers examine local and regional rules, guidelines or suggestions, while wrestling with what precautions to take themselves.

Of 230 independent jewelers in North America who responded to INSTORE’s third survey focusing on COVID-19 last week, 72 percent said they are or will be limiting the number of people in their stores at one time and 77 percent are asking the staff to wear masks.

When it comes to customers, though, only about half of store owners require that customers wear masks or provide masks for customers. And just 4 percent said they plan to take customers’ temperatures before they enter their store.

Tina Yelton of Yelton Fine Jewelers in West Chester, OH, has gone the extra mile by purchasing a medical-grade UVC light to disinfect jewelry. The staff is wearing masks and she’s installed protective barriers, as well.

Ed Menk of E.L. Menk Jewelers in Brainerd, MN, is limiting the number of people in the store, and requiring staff and customers to wear masks. He’s also obtained an infrared temperature reading gun to check temperatures of staff and customers, if needed. He consulted a nurse to find out the best way to do it. “Forehead temps are usually good except if the outside air temp is cold then you need to check the temp on the upper chest area just under the collar bone area.”

On the other end of the precaution spectrum, Marc Majors of Sam L. Majors in Midland, TX, notes that most of his customers seem unaffected by any idea of a new normal, even if it’s just social distancing. So he’s implemented no new protocols other than regular cleaning. “I’ve had several that have wanted to shake hands after our transaction and who am I to turn that down?” he says. “If someone just spent good money in my store, I’m going to shake their hand if they extend it and thank them for their business. I’ll then immediately go wash my hands but I’m not rejecting handshakes from people who support my business.”

Reactions from customers to the new ways of retail have been as varied as retailers’ responses to the situation.

Jennifer Hornik Johnson of Miller’s Jewelry in Bozeman, MT, says the first day she opened, a customer walked in wearing a World War II gas mask. Although the store is not requiring face coverings or gloves, they are encouraged. She installed two sanitizing stations on the showroom floor. “Most people are quite understanding and respectful. However, there are still quite a few clueless customers as well as those who strongly disagree with the way the country has handled the outbreak or don’t believe in it at all.”

Elysia Demers of Barnhardt Jewelers in Spencer, NC, says only a few customers have been resistant to wearing a mask into the store. And in fact, many customers are happy to be given a mask to keep. “Adding in a free washable mask for those who need one has also helped. One of our customers sews and has been giving washable masks to any customer who needs one. Those people didn’t know how/where to get one, so it has been a very good customer service benefit.”

Dan Levinson of Ellis Jewelers in Concord, NC, said only one customer refused to wear a mask the first 10 days his store was open. “Clients have been very agreeable,” he says. “When clients come to the door, we take a picture of their ID’s and if they don’t have a mask already, we very casually, say “Here’s a mask for you.”

Others, though report a dwindling enthusiasm among customers for masks.


Kriss Roethlisberger of Ace of Diamonds in Mt. Pleasant, MI, is limiting the store’s occupancy, but not requiring masks. “When customers come in and realize we aren’t wearing masks, they say, `Oh, thank goodness. I can take this off. I hate wearing a mask.”

Many jewelry retailers, lacking local regulations, decide what to do based on what the majority of customers seem comfortable with.

The first week that Joel Wiland of J. David’s Jewelry in Broken Arrow, OK, was open, about half of his guests came in wearing masks. That week it was also mandatory for the staff to wear them. But by the second week, only one out of 10 customers wore masks. Now, if the customer is wearing a mask, the staff wear masks. If the customer is not wearing a mask, the J. David’s team will ask if they’d like the staff to wear one.

“Most guest are thanking us for not wearing mask and gloves and how nice it is to walk into a place that feels “normal,” Wiland says.

When Steve Floyd of Floyd & Green in Aiken, SC, initially opened, 70 to 80 percent of customers wore masks. That number is now significantly below 50 percent. Another observation: “We continue to see the elderly come in for watch batteries, I just never knew how important “time” was to the retired and aging populations!”

Floyd, like other retailers, says he doesn’t leave masks out for customers because he’s noticed they will likely walk away with all of the masks available. “We do have them upon request,” he says.

James Doggett of Doggett Jewelry in Kingston, NH, is limiting the amount of people in the store, asking staff to wear masks and providing and requiring customers to wear masks, which are apparently hot commodities in New Hampshire as well as South Carolina. “This afternoon I watched a woman pocket several masks and walk out of the shop,” says Doggett, who decided to hand them out individually after that happened.

“I wonder when I will see someone whip out their personal container of hand-sanitizer and refill it from the pump-bottle on the display case,” Doggett says. And gloves are just not a good idea, he says. “Too many people put on gloves before they leave their house and are still wearing them when they get to my shop after 10 stops along the way, picking up germs at each stop.”


Julie Terwilliger of Wexford Jewelers in Cadillac, MI, agrees. “I’ve been told over and over by health professionals that gloves are one-time use because bacteria clings to the material and cross contaminates easily if not disposed of immediately and that washing hands and sanitizing are more effective. We also are posting a fun sign to have clients pop their mask down briefly to smile for the camera as they enter the showroom for security purposes.”

Laurie Cusher of Hyde Park Jeweler in Hyde Park, NY, doesn’t want people in her store with gloves, dark glasses OR masks, although she has installed protective barriers between customers and staff. “I’m not requiring anything,” she says. “Besides, it’s not a law; it’s a recommendation. Paranoia has been drilled in the general public and I’m not signing on. Granted, there is a virus and there have been viruses in the past. This is all a political agenda.”

But Steven Goldfarb of Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler in Bellevue, WA, who has implemented all precautions except temperature checks, says customers have been understanding about the retail hoops they need to jump through. “Some treat it like an adventure. Wearing a mask makes them feel like a superhero,” he says.

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