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Big Survey

When It Comes to Their Store, Small Is Beautiful for Most Independent Jewelers

Few interested in owning a chain or a big destination store, according to the 2023 Big Survey.




When It Comes to Their Store, Small Is Beautiful for Most Independent Jewelers

MOST OF INDEPENDENT jewelers aren’t particularly ambitious, at least by traditional business standards.

More than half of the respondents to the 2023 INSTORE Big Survey said they wanted nothing more than “a small store with lots of personality.” That was more than twice as many as those who wanted either a “big destination store” or even a “moderately sized store,” and ten times as many as those who wanted to own a “chain of stores.”

“I like what I have — a small store with great customers and no drama,” explained one survey respondent.

Another echoed that sentiment, hinting that the hard part was finding employees to buy into their vision. “I have a store with a lot of personality, we do custom and carry unusual as well as classic styles. I want employees who buy into our culture and are passionate about this business.”

Interestingly, the proportion of those store owners who were happy to stay small appears to be growing. When we last asked this question, in 2014, 28% of the jewelers said their goal was to own a big destination store, considerably higher than the 21% who chose that option in 2023. Also, only 45% wanted a small store in 2014, compared to 54% this year.

There were also those jewelers who were chasing a different dream altogether, such as those – a small minority to be sure — who wanted to work purely online or by appointment, “working my own hours and dealing with serious customers only.”


A few said they just wanted “a successful store” while half a dozen echoed the jeweler who said “I’m done. I want to retire.”

The 2023 Big Survey was conducted via an anonymous online form from late August to early October, attracting more than 750 responses from American jewelry-store owners and managers. The full results will be published in the November edition of INSTORE.

Chris Burslem is Group Managing Editor at SmartWork Media.



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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