Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective: And you looked so normal walking in the door...

The Retailer’s Perspective: And you looked so normal walking in the door...

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Sometimes you can spot ‘em getting out of their car and sometimes they just outright surprise you. Yep. It's the crazies. They're baaaaccckkkk.

I had just perfected my new barbecue chicken recipe - I pre-boil my chicken for about 30 minutes in any number of spices that I have laying around (I change this every time), then I take it off the stove and set it aside til it cools, then put the stock pot in the fridge to chill overnight. In the morning, I pour off the water and put the chicken in a zip lock baggie and put it back in the fridge til that night - just absorbing all of those flavors. Right before dinner I put it on the grill to heat it up and just barely burn the BBQ sauce and it's a "no knives needed" masterpiece. The leftovers come to work with me for lunch because it's even better the second day. It was right here, just as I was taking my first bite, when she walked in!

I could tell right away that I wasn't gonna be eating a hot meal that day, but it sure smelled good. She was wearing turquoise polyester capri pants, a 20 year old shirt with a 19 year old stain on the front, and she had missed most of her lips with the lipstick she tried to put on. And she was mad!

She was fuming about my phone being busy for the last three days while she had been trying to call me to see if her watch was ready. Since I'd never seen her before, I had to ask her what she was talking about. Turns out her poor husband had dropped off her watch with me a few days earlier, and thankfully it was ready. Situation diffused - or so I thought.

She was tearing into me about leaving my phone off the hook because all she'd gotten was a busy signal for 3 days straight and she needed her watch. I pulled out my cell phone and called my store and it went right through. Huh? I asked her what number she'd been dialing and she pulls out her repair ticket and starts thumping the number written on the ticket to make a point.

It was her own phone number she'd been dialing all along. Hah. Take that crazy lady!

Watch batteries have always been a constant source of revenue and entertainment for me. I don't mind doing the work, and at ten bucks a pop, it makes me happy. Until he came in. It went something like this:

"I saw on your sign out front that you install watch batteries."

"Yes sir, let me see what you have."

He handed me your basic run of the mill $20 quartz watch. I took it back to the shop to do that voodoo that I do. Nine seconds later, I'm finished (note to Timex - 9 seconds is the standard here, not 12 screws and 20 minutes later). I walked back out front and said; "Here you go, it's set and running. That'll be $10."

He reaches into his pocket and hands me some lifetime battery replacement contract from a bankrupt store that had been out-of-business for 3 years. You can guess the rest of it. He said, I said, he replied, I said no, he said yes, I said no, he showed me the contract again, I said give me $10, he said no he had a warranty, I said give me my $10, he said no.......AAAGGGHHH!!! Get out of my store you old coot. And away he went. And guess what. He came back the next day because his watch quit. Like I said watch batteries are a never ending source of entertainment.

I especially loved the lady who came in one day and asked if I offered layaway. Usually I don't like to mess with it, but here lately a sale is a sale so I said sure. I showed her a few things and she picked a nice little antique diamond and emerald ring for $695.00 - and it fit her perfectly. I got out a layaway ticket and wrote all the info down and she started gathering up her belongings to leave...with the ring. Sensing something out of place, I said I needed to steam it off (also known as getting it back in my possession). I asked her how much she wanted to put down today?

"Oh, I don't want to put anything down, I'll just be in every other Friday to make a payment."

Whatever. Then she's just staring at me. And staring. And staring. Huh. Maybe she thinks I'm cute? Finally, she breaks the silence and says: "Well, if you'll let me have my ring, I've got to get back to work." Something tells me she doesn't quite understand the concept of layaway. Geez.

Of course I always love the singers. These are the customers that while you're waiting on them are humming and singing away to music playing in your store. You'd think in Nashville there'd be better singers coming in, but that's usually not the case... until he came in. But this is a good story.

I was right in the middle of reading "Heaven and Hell, My Life in the Eagles" by Don Felder. Don Felder, the lead guitar player for the band, has always been my favorite Eagle. Every time you hear an Eagles song on the radio, there are one or two special ‘guitar licks' that Don Felder wrote and played. Watching the Eagles in concert and waiting for that lick and seeing Don Felder just ‘nail it' is magical. Too bad he got fired. But, that made him write the book which led to this story.

While reading the book, I'd learn little tidbits about songs and why something was recorded the way it was. During the day at work I'd pull up the songs on You Tube and listen to them with a different perspective.

Whenever you pull something up on You Tube, like all computer programs, it's going to give you similar options as well, like Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Toto, Sammy Hagar, etc. It was right about here I hit the wrong song. While trying to play ‘Life in the Fast Lane,' I accidentally played an obscure song by Glenn Frey that I had never heard of before.

Before I could turn it off a man walks in and needed a watch battery. I left ole Glenn crooning in the background and went about the task of changing this gentleman's watch battery when he started singing to himself. The only difference was this guy was good. Then it hit me. He was singing the harmony parts on this obscure song just as well as whoever sang it on the record.

Since this guy had a damned Timex, I had plenty of time to let the song finish and I was actually enjoying listening to this guy. After I was done I asked him how he knew the song and he said that was him singing on the record with Glenn Frey. Turns out he's the guy that's been on stage with the Eagles for most of their tours playing piano behind the band. When Glenn Frey went solo, he went with him and has played and sang on every record since. Only in Nashville.

And lastly, not to harp on it, but just a quick economic update. As I've been saying all along, the economic recovery is happening, but the media is not going to tell you about it. By the time you read this, the economy will have been in recovery mode for well over 4 months. The media is still talking about ‘the worsening economy.' Don't listen to them. It's a recovering, growing economy now.

Just this morning, Wal-Mart announced that it's adding 22,000 jobs and United Airlines asked Boeing and Airbus to bid on 150 new airplanes. My point all along has been that when a company announces it's hiring 22 or 22,000 employees, people's jobs are safe for the first time in 2 about years. They are going to start relaxing and spending again. Imagine how the employees at Boeing and Airbus must feel after years of job cuts and production cuts to all of a sudden find out they're about to have an order for 75-100 planes. General Motors just announced a deal to sell Saturn and preserve 13,000 jobs. Sweet.

Hang in there and we'll all weather this thing. I know it's tough but it's getting better every day - I promise.

 


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. You can contact him 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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