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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.



When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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