Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective: The importance of March 9th

The Retailer’s Perspective: The importance of March 9th

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Usually, while writing my column, I’m projecting myself 30 - 45 days into the future.  Normally I’m trying to visualize when the paper will hit your mailbox and what will be going on in your life at that time and I try to write something topical.  Every now and then I even get it right.  Today is different though.  Today, I’m only projecting myself 5 days into the future.  Today is March 5, 2010.

360 days ago the U.S. economy came within an hour or so of total collapse. Since the United States is the largest economy on the planet, our economy failing could have thrown the world into total chaos.  A George Orwell “1984” scenario was at our doorstep.  We came within hours of becoming an actual science fiction movie.  Yep... we came that close.

On March 9th, 2009, the DOW dropped to 6469.95.  Many leading economists and financial experts predicted, while the stock market was spiraling out of control, that if the DOW dropped below 6500 it would be unrecoverable.  And they predicted this when the DOW was still over 10,000.  On March 9th, it actually happened.  Whew, that was scary.

So, what’s so important about this March 9th?  One of the last visible reminders of that horrible period in our history will vanish from computer screens worldwide on that day.  It’s something I’ve been waiting on for a year, and now it’s only a few days away.  On any chart of the stock market, there is the 52 week high and the 52 week low.  It’s that 52 week low that has been stuck on 6469.95 for 360 days now.  In 5 days it’s finally going to change.

For the last 360 days the U.S. economy has slowly pulled itself from the brink of disaster.  Are there still problems?  Oh yeah, I see my bank account daily.  I’m still operating at about 50% of capacity, but it’s better than operating at 10% which I, and a whole lot of others out there, experienced for over a year.  Every day, every week, and every month, things are getting better.  And, in 5 days the last hard visual reminder will vanish from sight.  Good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, it will never go there again.

In five days the 52 week low is going to be a different and higher number... just like the DOW has been a different, higher number every day for the last year.  I can’t wait.

I know how hard this recession has been on the jewelry industry nationwide. I talk with jewelers all across the country who have been hit harder than me (if that’s possible).  On the other hand, ironically, I also talk to jewelers who don’t have any idea that a recession occurred.  (That befuddles me to no end, by the way).  How can a store that’s been in business 50 years be on the brink of bankruptcy while another store that’s been in business 50 years is having a blockbuster year?  It makes absolutely no sense.

So, as we all go forward through 2010, let’s keep our heads up and try to think happy, positive thoughts.  Things are trying to get better and by the time you read this and look at a chart of the DOW Jones Industrial Average, the 52 week low of 6469.95 will have been a thing of the past for about a month.

And, speaking of happy thoughts, let’s re-visit the topic of who’s responsible when expensive gemstones get broken while in the shop for setting or repair. I’ve heard from lots of people across all areas of the jewelry business and the results are mixed to say the least.

Broken gemstone

liability feedback

Store owners overwhelmingly have said it’s the shop’s responsibility to pay for it if it breaks while being set (although there was no consensus on whether the payment should be for the wholesale or the retail value).

Bench jewelers overwhelmingly said it’s the store’s problem with no issue about wholesale or retail because it wasn’t their problem.  I had one bench jeweler call me and say that he has a long standing policy that his shop is not responsible for broken stones under any circumstance.  He made a good point I thought - why should the person making the least amount of money, tackling the hardest part of the sale, be responsible for something that is only generating $40 of revenue to his business?  He could sell 4 watch batteries for the same amount of income without any threat of potentially losing a year’s worth of profits.  Food for thought.

I’m still interested in hearing from anyone out there that has an opinion on the subject because to the best of my knowledge, this taboo subject has never been written about before and I think it’s time for professionals in this industry to come to some sort of consensus on the matter.  E-mail me, call me, write me, or better yet, go to ‘I’m a Fan of Southern Jewelry News’ on FaceBook and tell me what you think.

And now I’m jumping back in my time machine and ordering everyone to go sit on a patio somewhere for lunch today and enjoy the weather since it’s April and spring is in the air.  After that harsh winter we had it will do you some good to go out and soak up some sunshine and be glad it’s not 2009 anymore.

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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