Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective And, just like that…

The Retailer’s Perspective And, just like that…

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Here we are at Christmas, 2009. If you’re reading this, you’ve managed to survive the Great American Recession up to this point. How did we do it? Beats the hell out me, but somehow or other we’ve managed to do it.

I’ve been wondering how this December is going to be different from last December and I’ve decided if there was ever an apples to oranges scenario this would be it. There is just no way most of us can compare the two at this point. I’ve been asking around to get some different perspectives and this is what I’ve heard.

“December, 2008 was the worst month in the 80 year history of this store.”

I heard that replayed dozens of times over the course of the last year.

“I’ve lost money the last four quarters. And this store has never had a losing quarter before last December.”

That came up a lot too.

“My July was better than my December last year.”

That one was me, (but I did hear that from several other people as well) but my point is this; This is not December 2008. It’s a brand new world out there now. Hang on a minute, someone just walked in....

That was cool. A lady just came in with 14 pieces of jewelry for repair (really, I’m not making that up) and paid the $438 in advance. While she was here she saw an antique cameo broach for $365 and bought that as well.... $803 - Yeah! That hasn’t happened in a while.

In December of 2008, the world financial markets were melting before our very eyes. Really bad decisions made by some really smart, really greedy people came back and bit them on the butt. They went down and took the rest of us with them, but that was the reality of December 2008. This is December 2009. Most people have really short attention spans and don’t remember what they did or what they spent last year. This is a brand new year and a brand new season.

I guess what I’m trying to say is the world isn’t melting this Christmas season, so don’t act like it is. People are going to spend again. Probably not like Christmas of 2003, but waaaay more than Christmas of 2008.

The underlying problems that caused the collapse last December are not here this December. Yes, the lingering effects are still front and center, but they are lingering effects, not the actual cause.

Hang on again, darn if it’s not another customer.

Once again, very cool. My customer just picked up a $295 repair. You know what’s significant about that one? I saw that very repair this time last year and she elected not to have the work done. Now that things are calming down, those jobs and those customers are coming back.

Will business return to normal? No. But business will return. It’s just that a new normal will be established. The decisions you make now are going to be your basis for the next decade and beyond. It’s a whole new beginning. Hang on, I’ve got to sign for a package real quick.

Sweet. One of my old trade accounts that’s been deathly slow for the last year just sent me a box of work. That’s the first time I’ve seen work from her in almost a year. I guess her business is finally picking up as well.

The way business was conducted for the last 20-30 years is over. Business is slowly coming back, people are finally starting to spend again, but the old way of doing things is dead (for several years at least...re: short attention spans). Throw away the old playbook.

What caused the financial collapse last year was a very real, very tangible problem. What caused people to cut back to only the bare bones essentials last year is not there this year. What kept people out of jewelry and other retail stores no longer exists in the capacity that it existed last year.

Way back in the summer I predicted the DOW would need to start bouncing between 9,500 and 10,000 before anyone took the recovery seriously. As I’m writing this, the DOW is doing just that, and this morning Ford Motor Company just announced a billion dollar profit. In December of 2008 Ford was just trying to stay out of bankruptcy liquidation. This Christmas they’re hiring. Like I said, it’s a brand new world.

There are countless factors that got us into that mess last year, and countless factors that are getting us out of it this year. But just know that we are getting out of it and it’s turning around. Even the major networks are mostly talking about the recovery now, not the collapse. The collapse is soooo yesterday’s news.

One thing I have heard quite a bit by the store owners and managers that feel the same as I do is this: “I’m worried that I don’t have the staff or the inventory to handle a good Christmas season.”

Now that’s a good kind of problem to have. Let’s hope we’re right! Get out there and sell something! I hope everyone has a great Christmas season and I’ll see ya in 2010.

Before I go, I’ve got two pieces of housekeeping. One, I need help. I’m looking for the company that I order my appraisal forms from and can’t for the life of me remember who they are. The forms come with a blue, yellow, and pink copy and are made for laser printers. Anyone out there know who that is?

Secondly, for all the bench jewelers out there. I have found something that is going to rock your world. Mary Kay makes a new soap called Satin Hands. It has those little scrubbies in it like pumice to really get your hands clean, but it also has a built in moisturizer as well. It’s like washing your hands and putting lotion on at the same time. Since I started using it, my hands and fingertips haven’t cracked or split once. It’s the best $15 I’ve spent all year. If you don’t have a Mary Kay rep, contact mine at 615-517-8081 or www.marykay.com/mmorrison7605 and McKensie will get it to you.

Don’t work too hard this season.

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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