When gold soared to unreachable levels for the average buyer, Metal Marketplace International knew there was just one thing to do: transform.
In a massive reversal, the Philadelphia precious metals supplier turned its ratio from 90 percent gold/10 percent silver to 90 percent silver/10 percent gold. The strategy paid off for a family company that is proud to cater to the masses, as it has from the beginning.“We’ve always been geared to the average American, for everyone to be able to afford fine jewelry,” says Metal Marketplace’s Executive Vice President Greg Acquaviva. “We’re about offering quality, affordable products to independent jewelers, selling a good product at a good price.
“It’s a great story right now with Metal Marketplace. We have really transformed ourselves. When the market crashed in 2008, we were one of the biggest companies selling gold. With gold skyrocketing, the market crashing, mergers of big names that couldn’t sustain what was going on, a lot of our customers didn’t know what was happening with our transformation.
“Our customers knew we had the ability to find the great products and when they found out what we’d done with the company they were happy – and it was gratifying for me. There are a lot of companies that went out of business. We’ve been able to sustain the company and transform it into something else.”
The decisive shift is paying off, Greg says. “Last year was a good year, and the first of this year has been good coming out of the gates. Our customers love it – they love that we’re back!”
From Coin Shop
Greg’s father, Anthony, started the family business in 1975 and still serves as president. “We collaborate on the vision of what we’re going to do, and I implement it,” Greg says.
“My father started out selling gold coins, and then one day realized he could sell gold rope chain,” Greg says. “From Anthony’s Coins he switched it to Metal Marketplace in 1979, selling finished gold products to retail stores.
“It all happened quickly for my father. In the 1980s we were the biggest wholesalers of gold – basic chains, earrings – in the country. At the height of our business we had 100 employees and offices all over the world.”
Shortly before Greg came aboard in 2002, the company started offering a little silver. “We were doing 10 percent silver/90 percent gold,” Greg says.
“With the rising commodity markets, we started switching over to silver in the last few years. The biggest transformation has happened over the past two years. We still service the same customer base, but we’re geared more toward price points and silver products.
“We have all the basic chains, all gauges. We went overseas and tried to find the same type of Italian look. We now carry Italian bracelet and earring styles in silver that we used to sell in gold. I went overseas and found rose silver, yellow silver, black silver – the kind of things we did in gold for years. When you look at it, you can’t tell the difference. The coloring is great.
“And we’re branching out. We sell a lot of fashion silver, silver with rhodium, silver with 18 karat gold, lightweight earrings, European style fancy pieces, electroform – a totally different style of jewelry with a big look, but lightweight so it keeps the prices down – and beads, which is a growing trend with us right now.
“We have a partnership with Moress beads, and we’ve done extremely well with it. It’s an affordable, high-quality product that is interchangeable with all other major bead lines. A lot of companies went to China and bought beads, and the quality of the product was not so good. We want our customers to know that they have the best quality beads in the industry at excellent price points.
“We still carry gold, but primarily basic chain and lighter-weight items in 14 karat and 10 gold.
“Jewelers are able to buy a piece from me at a reasonable price. It has the same pop, the same style as the big name but is affordable for the average American jewelry shopper.”
Without cheapening its product, Greg says, Metal Marketplace has transformed everything – its merchandise, its people. “We hired new people in all areas of the business: sales, marketing, customer service and operations.”
Metal Marketplace now employs about 35 people, all in the company’s Philadelphia facilities. “It was a big learning curve, but we work together. There’s a family/team atmosphere here, and we treat our customers the same way. And we plan to grow this company even more.
“I’m proud to be part of Metal Marketplace, and proud that it’s coming back. 2011 was our comeback year. It was a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights and weekends, but we were able to do it.
“In 2012, we geared up and are going to every major trade show in the country. I can’t wait until Vegas this year, when we come out with our new books. We’re out there! We’re expanding into other regional shows as well. Not everyone can make it to Vegas or New York, so we’re trying to hit every region in the country.
“We’re trying to be in front of our retailers so they can see, touch the jewelry, and be in front of a salesperson. We want to be technologically advanced, but we also want to have a human being, a salesperson, there to talk to retailers.
“We want a point person here who they can call. My father had that, and I want that too. There’s nothing worse than to not be able to call someone when you want something done.”
It’s also important to customers, Greg says, to carry a heavy inventory.
“We used to carry $25 million in gold. In silver, we carry the same proportion of inventory, but at a different value. When a customer calls, we have it in stock 95 percent of the time or more. We pride ourselves on that. If a retailer uses our catalog to sell in their store or on their website, they want to know that if they order it, we’re going to have it.
“The vision for our company is this: If you want a metal, you come to Metal Marketplace because we have what you need. We service and deal exclusively with precious metals. We always have, and we always will.”