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Commentary: The Business

Jeff Unger: What Makes You Happy?

Find happiness in your business,  and you’ll love what you do.




HAVE YOU EVER thought about what makes you happy?

For me, it’s dinner with the family. It’s seeing my wife, Alisa, in the morning. It’s teeing it up on a Saturday morning with my son.

Did you notice one thing not on that list is money?

We all have different things that make us happy and for most of us, it’s not money. How many lottery winners tell the story that they wish they never won the jackpot? It’s the excitement of buying the ticket more than actually winning that makes them happy.

I recently read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder and CEO of Zappos, the online shoe company. Last month, INSTORE publisher Dan Kisch mentioned this book in his column and suggested ways to make your customers happy, but it occurred to me that your own happiness is pretty important too.

So, I set out to ask as many people within the jewelry industry, “What makes you happy?”


I received hundreds of responses. Lori Blagg of Faye’s Diamond Mine in Clinton, AR, told me, “Happiness is where you find it.”

Matt Stuller of Stuller Inc. finds happiness in a candlelit meal with his beautiful wife, overlooking the lake behind his home with a glass of wine. “Now that makes me real happy.”

“It’s about smiles!” says George Wood of Wood’s Jewelers in Mount Pleasant, PA.

“Happiness is harmonious contentment.” Simply said by Jeff Bong, of Bong’s Jewelers in Corning, NY.

Nearly everyone said “family” was what made them truly happy.

But do we find happiness in our business? We all wake up in the morning with a new day ahead. We get into the same old routine. Brush our teeth, kiss the spouse, put on the coffee, read the paper and off to work.


To my surprise, most of you love what you do and find happiness in it.

Sandra Ferland, of Precious Things in Enosburg Falls, VT, says for the past 23 years, she’s loved to open the door every morning. Sharon Lawrence of Lawrence Jewelry in Tylertown, MS, “loves the look in a customer’s eyes when we have made jewelry they love — especially engagement and wedding rings.”

Bill Brundage of Brundage Jewelers in Louisville, KY, enjoys being at work each day and wonders if he’ll ever retire.

Since many of us work with a spouse, Teddie Gause of Gause & Son Jewelers in Ocala, FL, says it best: “I am so happy to work with my handsome husband … not only is he my husband but my best friend.”

No matter what makes you happy, find it, love it, and embrace the feeling. It makes that coffee in the morning taste better than ever!


Jeff Unger was the president and co-owner of B & N Jewelry (d.b.a. Alisa Unger Designs) and a long-time INSTORE contributor. He passed away in February 2019 after a valiant 10-year battle with cancer.



Wilkerson Testimonials | Sollberger’s

Going Out of Business Is an Emotional Journey. Wilkerson Is There to Make It Easier.

Jaki Cowan, the owner of Sollberger’s in Ridgeland, MS, decided the time was right to close up shop. The experience, she says, was like going into the great unknown. There were so many questions about the way to handle the store’s going-out-of-business sale. Luckily for Cowan, Wilkerson made the transition easier and managed everything, from marketing to markdowns.

“They think of everything that you don’t have the time to think of,” she says of the Wilkerson team that was assigned to manage the sale. And it was a total success, with financial goals met by Christmas with another sale month left to go.

Wilkerson even had a plan to manage things while Covid-19 restrictions were still in place. This included limiting the number of shoppers, masking and taking temperatures upon entrance. “We did everything we could to make the staff and public feel as safe as possible.”

Does she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers thinking of retiring, liquidating or selling excess merchandise? Absolutely. “If you are considering going out of business, it’s obviously an emotional journey. But truly rest assured that you’re in good hands with Wilkerson.”

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