Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective: Every... Single... Year!

The Retailer’s Perspective: Every... Single... Year!

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You know, it never fails to happen every year, but it still amazes me just the same. What I’m talking about is the audacity of some of the people that show up and expect impossible things from me… at Christmas!  So, now that I’ve slowed down a little, I thought I’d tell you a story or two of what happened during this last Christmas season.

The UPS delivery debacle: This one just made me shake my head.  I’ve been writing the last year or so about getting your business online because that’s where the action is nowadays. Well this past Christmas proved it. UPS actually ‘sold out’ its capacity for the first time in its history.

Truth be told, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened before this. But eventually it had to happen that more people would buy online and choose to have their purchases shipped to them rather than go out and buy them at a store.  And, all of these people going on and on about how UPS ruined Christmas for my family. No, UPS didn’t ruin anything.  All of the people that paid for overnight delivery got their stuff. All of the people that opted for ground shipments took a chance and ruined their own Christmas. But, if they would have just walked into their local hometown jewelry store and bought something, we would have even giftwrapped it for you before sending you home with just the perfect gift.  This leads to the next one…

The ‘I want it now’ syndrome: I swear, this whole Internet thingy has just spoiled the public into thinking that everything is available right here, right now, immediately, without waiting, or without any conscious thought of what it takes to actually produce a product. Having been a custom jeweler for forever, I know for a fact that you don’t just put some raw gold, and raw gemstones in the laser welder and push the ‘make this customer’s dream ring button’… and make it now… faster, faster! 

Buying and adjusting the perfect piece of jewelry takes time.  But nowadays people don’t give that any consideration. I know for a fact that I have lost sales because I refused to do it at their pace and on their timetable. If I can’t do the job correctly in the time frame they think it needs to be done, I’m just not gonna play. Because, if it’s not done correctly, then who screwed up?  Yep - me!  And I’m just not gonna let that happen.

I can get it online cheaper: I still don’t handle this one very well. Of course you can get it cheaper online. That’s the whole purpose of the online thing - it’s cheaper!  I understand that concept. Oh, and just for the record, I’ve never said ‘WOW’ about a piece that someone bought online.

I bought this online and I’m going out of town and need it sized while I wait: Usually followed by, “UPS screwed up the shipping.” Of course, since it’s December 22nd and there are lots of customers that he can clearly see, I’m supposed to drop everything I’m doing for a $35 sizing.  Yeah right.  Oh, and did I mention I’ve never seen this guy before in my life? 

I bought this at the pawn shop up the street and I need it sized right now: Not my problem, buster.  I’ll get to it when I can, but it’s not going to be right now, or later today, or tomorrow.  But maybe the next day or the day after that.  Because I know it’s a Christmas present, I’ll do my best to work it in. But I’m going to do it on my schedule, not yours.  Of course, if he would have bought it here I would have it ready for him later this afternoon.  And, when he comes in to pick it up, he (yes, it’s only guys that do this) always asks the exact same question, which is my next topic.

Can you sell me a nice velvet gift box for it?: Uhhh, let me think about this for a second… NO!  But I’ve actually got two reasons for saying no.  First off, I know you want a fancy box so your wife or girlfriend will think you spent more money on her than you actually did.  But secondly, true story, a friend of mine sold a velvet ring box for $5 that had her store’s name imprinted on it just to be nice to someone.  Well about a week or two after Christmas, when the piece of crap ring from the pawn shop started losing diamonds, guess where the recipient of the gift took it to have it repaired under warranty… for free?  Yep, you guessed it.

It turned into a huge fiasco with Lisa trying to tell the lady she just sold the box, not the ring. The lady didn’t believe her and called her a liar and all sorts of other adjectives. So, keep that in mind next time someone wants to ‘buy a nice ring box’ from you.

I’m thinking about having a ring made with my income tax return in April or May: “I’m off work for the week, so I thought I’d come in and spend a couple of hours talking to you about it.” I don’t know why, but this seems to happen every year. I wonder if anyone goes into their tax preparer’s office on April 10th to discuss end-of-year tax implications?

I bought this diamond on one website, and this mounting on another site: I have a low tolerance for this situation. And believe me, the most expensive labor I sell is in this exact situation. Whatever that person saved by doing all that research and shopping online, just went right out the window and right into my bank account. In reality, I know that they don’t really think about what it takes to set a diamond, but by the time I’m finished with it, they have a pretty good idea!

The ‘showroomer’: Ugh!  A young lady comes in and wants to try on different styles of engagement rings. This seemed like something that should happen in my jewelry store, so I start showing her some. Turns out, her boyfriend was going to buy it on Blue Nile because he could get a really good deal, and she just wanted to see what they looked like on her hand so he’d get her the right one. I told her to go to the mall.  They have more than I do.

I bought this at another store and I want your opinion: Why? Seriously, why do you want my opinion… at the busiest time of the year? I have a foolproof method of dealing with these people. I just inform them that my insurance company doesn’t allow me to give verbal opinions about the value of jewelry. The only opinion I’m allowed to offer is in writing and it costs $250 and will take a couple of days, and you’ll need to pay me in advance. Of course there’s always the usual hem hawing about “I don’t need nothin’ in writin’, I just want a ballpark,” or “Can you just tell me if I got a good deal?”  Of course I can, for $250 - plus tax.  Now pay the lady or get the hell out of my store.

What’s this worth?: See above!

And, if anyone is coming to the Atlanta Jewelry Show in early March, I’ll be in the Southern Jewelry News/Mid-America Jewelry News booth on Sunday.  We’re just to the right of the main entrance.  Stop by and say hi to me.


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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