Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective: Adding back

The Retailer’s Perspective: Adding back

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The summer months have always been slow for my business.  Four years ago though, things were slower than normal with the Great American Recession looming on the horizon.  Thank Heaven that August 2012 is a completely different story.  Four years ago I was cutting back.  Now, myself and many others are adding back.

In 2008, I knew it was gonna be bad.  I was looking at ways to slash expenses.  Unless I could drive it, eat it, sleep in it, or use it for work, it was outta there.  Funny thing though, as I’m writing this I don’t really remember what all I got rid of because after four years I’ve adjusted to life without it (and I don’t miss 1,200 channels I never watched).  But now I’m ready to put the fun back into things.

Four years ago, like most people in this country, I was in panic mode.  I was actually worried about my future.. something I’d never really thought about before.  After 30+ years in the jewelry business, I’ve weathered just about every kind of storm imaginable.  And, I did it without changing my lifestyle very much.  Yeah, in bad times I might have vacationed in Florida instead of the Bahamas, but I still vacationed.  And, to tell you the truth, I’m finally ready for a vacation again.  I’m not scared to spend the money now.  Of course the problem I have now is I have too much work to do.  Who has the time to take off on a vacation?

For a couple of years there, it was pretty scary just being in business, not to mention being in a luxury business.  But, slowly and surely it is beginning to make sense again.  Is it making 2005 or 2006 sense?  No.  But it’s making 2010 and 2011 sense.  This is now our 4th August to encounter since the big crash and we’re not really flying blind anymore.  It’s more like we’re flying with macular degeneration with promising new treatments just over the horizon.

Lisa Morehead with Masman Jewelers in Morgantown, WV made the decision to add ‘The Edge’ software this summer.  She’d been looking to add a new inventory management software system for about three years but just couldn’t pull the trigger with things so screwed up in the economy.  Who wants to write a big fat check for a long term investment and then not make it to the long term.  For Lisa and Masman Jewelers, like so many of us, it was touch and go for a long time.  Now it’s just go.  She’s taking advantage of the slower months to implement the system so she and her staff will be ready when the fall selling season gets here.  And, she’s also back to her pre-recession work force.

Lisa Perantoni of Professional Jewelry Services, Bloomington, Ind., is just about to pull the trigger on some exciting new equipment.  Something she would have never considered a year or two ago.  Now that she’s back to full production, it makes her decision a little easier on the pocketbook.  I hope she buys it just so I don’t have to and I can just send my work to her.

Joe Grimes, at Your Family Jeweler, in Plant City, Fla., has finally purchased new shop equipment that he’d been putting off, choosing instead to just sit on the money.  This equipment was an upgrade to existing equipment he already owned that was working just fine, but he wanted the new and improved model.  He’s also added new showcases to his showroom and added some new lines of jewelry to fill those new cases.  A decision he wasn’t willing to make in ’08, ’09, ’10, or ’11.

Scott Isaacs, owner of Belle Meade Jewelry, Nashville, Tn. (and my closest competitor) just moved into his new store that is about 60 feet from his old - way too cramped - location.  It was a huge capital expense to take a blank shell of a space and build out a brand new jewelry store just 20 seconds walking distance from his old jewelry store, but he did it.  He’s not worried anymore about what the future holds.  It’s now about growing and expanding your business, not hunkering down and weathering the storm.

Am I worried about his new store taking business away from me?  No, because I also just did a big overhaul of my entire showroom and I’m ready to compete head to head with him or any other jewelry store.  I spent money to grow my business as well.  Something I wouldn’t have considered two or three years ago.

And, something I would have never considered two years ago, I started a new company and am about to launch a brand new product for the jewelry industry.  It’s a massive, overwhelming endeavor, but exciting all at the same time.  And, I’m not worried about the company failing like I might have been a few years ago.  Hell, who am I kidding?  I wouldn’t have launched a new company 2 years ago.

No, I’m worried about the company succeeding and me not being able to keep demand and supply in check.  I’m worried about being able to staff it properly and keep everyone happy.  Me and my team are worried that instead of it being a slow and steady growth model, it’s going to get out of control too quickly and we won’t be able to keep up.  And we all know that’s no good.  I’ll tell everyone about it very soon... just not today.

I guess what I’m saying is this; I usually enjoy the slowness of the summer season because it gives me time to recharge my batteries and get away from the stresses of running a business for a while.  The last few years I couldn’t afford to get away and it was an extremely stressful time just trying to figure out how to stay in business.  Now I’m trying to figure out how to keep up with business.

Well, I think I’m going to take my own advice.  I’m going to Holiday World and Splashing Safari... later gators!

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide.

If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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