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Reader Challenge: Who’s the Greatest True Tale Teller of All?

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David Squires really wants you to call him.

Hey everybody, let’s try an experiment. We think it might be fun.

For 16 years (yes, we’ve been around that long!), we’ve been running “True Tales” in the pages of INSTORE Magazine. It’s one of our many reader participation projects, created each and every month by you, that helped elevate our magazine and (later) website to its central position in the jewelry industry. We’ve featured hundreds of your favorite tales in our magazine over the years. (In fact, go check out some of them here.)

Meanwhile, we’re in the early stages of developing our latest medium via which we’ll inform, entertain and otherwise make your jewelry lives complete — INSTORE Radio.

So, that got us thinking, what might “True Tales” look like as a radio show?

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Like the old advertisement in which two people, one carrying a giant bar of chocolate and the other an open tub of peanut butter, clumsily collide and create a magical new product — like those two people, we’re thinking of mashing two very different products together into something new and exciting.

We can’t say for sure exactly what form this new series will take. But, with lots and lots and lots of help from you (as usual), we’d like to give it a try.

Here’s what we want you to do.

Step 1.

Think for a couple minutes. Identify your one go-to, foolproof, never-fails story about your chosen life’s work. The one you tell at a dinner party when it’s your moment in the spotlight. The one that goes on for three minutes, five minutes, or even eight minutes, and during which no one talks, clears their throat, or even gets up to obey the call of nature. 

Your story can be funny. (We love funny.) It can be sad. (Nothing wrong with an occasional tear.) It can be heart-warming. (Our industry warms hearts like no other.) It can even be a little gross. (On second thought, I think all of us at INSTORE have had a lifetime supply of stories of custom jewelry orders made from diseased or dismembered body parts. So keep your ghoulish stories to yourself, you bunch of sickos. For now, anyway.)

Step 2.

Practice a few times. Drink a glass of water. (Or a shot of vodka, if you need it.) Get ready to give the performance of your life.

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Remember, your message time limit is 10 minutes. (But if you do happen to go over the limit, don’t stress. Just initiate a new call and continue your story. We’ll splice everything together in post-production.)

Step 3.

Ready?

Click the link at the bottom of the page. It will launch a new voice-message widget we’ve subscribed to called SpeakPipe. Follow the simple instructions on the wdiget … and begin recording.

Start by telling us your name, your position, plus your store name, city and state. And then tell us your story, exactly as you would tell it to an engrossed dinner-table audience. End your story in the manner of all great storytellers — by giving a dramatic pause, and saying “The End”.

After you finish, you’re welcome to add any additional information about yourself or your store that you think would be a fit for our show. (Oh, and don’t forget to add your contact information in the form that comes up when you send your audio to us.)

And that’s it.

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The ball is officially in your court, devoted INSTORE readers.

Have a great tale to tell? Call us. Know someone with a great tale to tell? Call them and then tell them to call us. Love to listen to great tales? Then stay tuned when we turn your tales into something fun to listen to.

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Wilkerson Testimonials

When It’s Time for Something New, Call Wilkerson

Fifty-four years is a long time to stay in one place. So, when Cindy Skatell-Dacus, owner of Skatell’s Custom Jewelers in Greenville, SC decided to move on to life’s next adventure, she called Wilkerson. “I’d seen their ads in the trade magazines for years,’ she says, before hiring them to run her store’s GOB sale. It was such a great experience, Skatell-Dacus says it didn’t even seem like a sale was taking place. Does she have some advice for others thinking of a liquidation or GOB sale? Three words, she says: “Wilkerson. Wilkerson. Wilkerson.”

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Commentary: The Business

Million Dollar Seller Achieves Jewelry Dreams

Aly Martinez builds on success.

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IT STARTED WITH beads and a spool of fishing line. I had always been creative and loved anything artistic, but nothing grabbed my attention quite like jewelry. Beading in my bedroom on the weekends quickly led to jewelry-fabrication classes in high school, and by the time I graduated a hobby had turned into a passion and a dream of a life-long career. In college I majored in retail merchandising, but knew I wanted to keep my focus on jewelry. I became connected with my local Art Guild, and when I wasn’t in class I was in the studio taking every jewelry fabrication class I could get my hands on. In 2007 I began working at Kevin Kelly Jewelers, a local family operated jewelry store. There they taught me the basics of repair work, custom work and selling. I was a sponge and wanted to learn everything they were willing to teach me. Upon graduating college in 2009 I knew I wanted to keep going and to learn more, and found myself asking “What next?” I quickly discovered GIA and started on my Graduate Gemology degree. By the beginning of 2010 I started working at Jones Bros. Jewelers part-time changing watch batteries and cleaning jewelry. Again, I said yes to anything they were willing to teach me. Now fast forward nine years later, and I’m a full-time sales associate with a million dollars sold in 2018.

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So what exactly happened throughout those nine years? A lot. Selling full-time was not necessarily something I thought I’d ever do, but I quickly fell in love with the personal connections I was able to make with clients. Once I started, selling a million dollars in a year became a professional and personal goal. A goal that I added to my other goals that I never forgot about and slowly kept working toward. With the help of GIA’s Distance Education Program I was able to continue taking classes while working, and travel to Wisconsin for lab courses. And I’ll admit I put it on the back burner for a while, but creating my own jewelry line was something I’d dreamt about for years, and so I made sure to never lose sight of the initial driving force for my passion for this industry.

Year after year I came close, but never quite hit that million dollar mark. By 2018 I wasn’t ready to give up, but knew it was time to broaden my focus. I dove headfirst into the rest of my Graduate Gemology training, became a brand ambassador for Tacori, and finally created Emerald May, my own jewelry line. I traveled more than ever before – Wisconsin for labs, Vegas for trade shows, and California for Tacori and had my hands in more and more projects. Ironically, with my focus on other things I had wanted for so long, my sales continued to grow, and by the end of 2018 I was one class away from becoming a Graduate Gemologist, my own line was officially started with several pieces sold, and I had reached my goal of selling a million dollars in a year.

It’s a surreal feeling to look back on everything that’s happened over the years to get to where I am now. Something that started as a hobby has turned into a career, a career that drives me to do better every day. The million dollars became so much more than a sales goal. It was something to strive for, something to push me, and once achieved served as a symbol that with enough determination and pursuit anything is possible. It’s given me the courage to keep pursuing other goals and dreams I’ve set for myself. Looking back on all of the hard work, education, and incredible amount of support I know that dreams don’t always have to stay dreams, they truly can become your reality.

So if you’ve taken the time to read this, I hope above anything else you feel inspired. It doesn’t matter if your dreams or aspirations are the same. It’s about finding that thing that drives you day after day that leaves you wanting more. It’s about pushing yourself to go after the things you’ve always dreamed of. It’s about starting somewhere, anywhere, and never giving up or losing sight of what you want and what you’ve worked so hard for. Start at the bottom if you must, just start Be open to every opportunity thrown your way, because you never know where that may lead you. I could have said no to selling because it wasn’t something I thought I’d want to do, but years later it’s become one of my absolute favorite things to do. You never know where something may lead, so take it all in, learn as much as you can, and never lose sight of your dreams – they could be your reality someday.

Aly Martinez works at Jones Bros. Jewelers in Peoria, IL. Her contact information is: alyson@jonesbros.com or (309) 692-3228.

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Where Did All My Profits Go??

Understanding cash flow vs. profit can affect how you manage your business.

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A COMMON COMPLAINT FROM retailers after the CPA has completed the end of year financials is, “Where is the money?” Often, they have reported a healthy profit (which also leads to a bigger tax liability to the IRS), yet their bank account never seems to reflect the profit the business makes.

It’s a common issue. Most store owners expect their profit to show up in the bank account — and that’s perfectly understandable. After all, profit is meant to be what you have left after paying your operating costs and vendors. Yet, rarely does it align.

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The reality is that cash flow and profits are two different things. Cash flow reflects the ins and outs of your bank account over a period of time. Profit is about your income and the expenses that relate to that income. That means the expenses don’t necessarily line up with when you paid them.

One of the best examples of this is the inventory you buy. For instance, let’s say Bob’s business does $1 million in sales for the year. With a keystone markup, Bob makes a gross profit of $500,000 from his business. After expenses of $400,000, his net profit is $100,000.

The bank account tells a very different story. Although the cost of goods sold is $500,000, Bob didn’t necessarily spend that much on inventory for the year. If he spent $600,000 on inventory purchases, he would have increased his inventory holding by $100,000. However, he didn’t sell the extra inventory, and therefore, it doesn’t pay for itself, but it will still come out of his bank account!

Timing is another important factor in paying vendors, too. Whether you pay your vendors immediately or pay the amount six months later, this will affect your bank balance, but it won’t affect your profit — the item is an expense when you sell it, not when you pay your vendor.

Your bank account can also be affected by assets that you buy. A new vehicle that is deemed a business asset may leave a hole in your bank account now if you pay cash, but as a business asset, its cost will be spread over several years to reflect when it is used. Your profit will look healthier than your bank account in this situation.

Of course, another factor to consider is personal spending. Withdrawing a good deal of money from your business account to support your lifestyle isn’t a business expense and won’t decrease your profit. It will, however, certainly lower the balance of your bank account.

It’s important to understand this difference between cash flow and profit so you don’t get caught spending money you don’t have.

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How to Create a Feeding Frenzy In Your Store

Limited-quantity special offers can do more than build short-term traffic.

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IMAGINE A VIRTUAL feeding frenzy of customers coming into your store to buy, right now.

Nice idea, right? But that’s not the sort of thing you can simply turn on or off like a faucet … or is it?

Actually you can, and it’s the perfect thing to create using email marketing and social media. The secret is to offer extremely attractive offers on extremely limited merchandise, and do it on a regular basis.

For example, maybe you offer an 18-inch strand of freshwater pearls with a regular price of $89 for just $27. Who wouldn’t want to buy that? Of course, many, many people would and will. But to get the feeding frenzy, you need one more element … urgency!

In this case, the urgency is manifested in the form of an extremely limited supply. “But I only have 17 of them, and when they’re gone, they’re gone!”

But why would you want to do this? I mean, let’s say you bought those pearls for $12 a strand. Well, selling 17 strands at a profit of just $15 a strand makes you a whopping $255. Hardly worth the trouble, right?

Well, consider this: When you do this regularly — at least once a month, and once a week is better — you can predictably expect the following:

  • You will virtually eliminate opt-outs from your email list. People will stay with you forever, not because they want or need any one thing or things, but they’ll be afraid of missing the one screamin’ deal they do. Research proves this to be true.
  • You’ll very likely see an increase in email opens.
  • You’re likely to see an increase in your social media engagements in the form of page likes, comments, etc.
  • You’ll finally be able to track social media responses directly to specific posts; no longer will you have to guess if your social media is working. You’ll know … and how well.
  • You’ll have customers walking in to buy. And that makes upselling and add-on selling much, much easier. If your sales team is well-trained, that li’l $27 sale turns into your average ticket or higher.
  • Perhaps most important, you’ll be training your customers on how to be your customers. You’ll be delivering the message that, in this relationship, they’re expected to buy from you.

Obviously, to make “feeding frenzy” marketing work, you need to buy right. Make it part of your trade show routine to visit the closeout booths to find such deals. Buy unusual numbers of the items you want to make your feeding frenzy offers (17 of these, 22 of those, 8 of another thing, 31 of something else).

It’s also important to keep the price points low. You can have something with a $200 value or more, but you’ll want to keep the “deal” price under $100, and under $50 is best. This has to remain an “impulse” buy that virtually any and every customer can appreciate.

And once you’ve mastered the art of the feeding frenzy offer, start making more compelling offers to your customers for those bigger items for bigger occasions. You’ll see your traffic, sales and profits skyrocket.

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