An orange cat in a purple wig and lime-green glasses selling diamonds? Seriously?
No! That's the point, says David Goldstein, owner of Goldstein Diamonds, whose fancy feline has been the star of a successful advertising campaign. “When I say we’re bringing the fun back to doing business, I mean it. It’s got to be fun.”Mr. Goldstein has been in the same office, the one where he launched his wholesale diamond jewelry business in Scottsdale, Ariz., for 28 years. He may be “all about stability,” but he’s no stick in the mud.
“We’ve just been going over new stuff with my marketing team,” Mr. Goldstein enthuses. “They know how out of the box I am. They were just floored by the idea I picked; it’s just absolutely beyond cool. You know our cat image that’s been our big marketing campaign? Well, we’re taking it a step further this year! We feel it’s been greatly received. We’re making it younger, cooler, hipper, so they know at the end of the day, you’re dealing with diamonds and jewelry, not medicine.
“It’s a tough enough life out there right now. It’s tough enough, so when people call and they want jewelry, I tell my guys, ‘Make it fun!’ This isn’t brain surgery. It’s jewelry; you can’t get any more elective.
“It’s jewelry – keep your customer happy and excited about it; laugh a little about it. Too many people have made jewelry a serious business, and I think we’re taking it back to being an elective, fun way to do business.
“We’re having fun at Goldstein Diamonds.”
Always a Go-Getter
Mr. Goldstein started working when he was 15 years old, establishing a store in his Scottsdale high school after moving there from his hometown of Boston.
“I moved to Scottsdale as a freshman and took a class called diversified occupation, learning about jobs,” he says. “You had to have a job and you got graded on how you worked. I was working at a supermarket as a carry out boy for $1.32 an hour in 1972.
“We needed a fund raiser at the end of the year to take our bosses out to dinner to thank them. I started selling Native American jewelry. My dad bought me a couple of necklaces that were made and bought me $100 worth of supplies. I sold the jewelry in high school in a store that I created, and got paid by the school to run it – and, I was working in the supermarket. I was 17 years old and making $350 a week in the early 1970s.
“After high school, I went to college, and I wasn’t very studious. When I was done, I realized my passion was still jewelry. I went to GIA, finishing second in the class.
“I worked with my best friend, starting a retail store. In two years, we built it up to $1.1 million. Then I got engaged and moved to Phoenix, and I wanted to start doing wholesale. My friend still has his store there; he’s a customer of mine and still does very well.
“I’ve been in the same location since then, 28 years ago. My lease is up at the end of year, and I’m having a terrible quandary about potentially moving after being here so long. I may go to a newer, nicer place only a mile away. But I’m a karma guy. I’ve been very successful here, so it’s very difficult for me. I’ve been doing this a long time.”
Keeping It Personal
Mr. Goldstein, who employs eight people in Goldstein Diamonds’ single location, had an office years ago in Chicago but closed it. “I found bigger wasn’t better,” he says. “I have a personal relationship with 80 percent of my customers; they call me on my cell phone. Everybody who knows me knows I have two children in college, and two German Shepherds that I adore. And anybody who meets me will see a picture of them all. That’s me. I’ve been married 27 years. I like stability. I’m a very routine person.”
Goldstein Diamonds deals with 1,200 stores around the country and around the world. “We’ve developed a big following in India, Asia, Belgium and Israel,” says Mr. Goldstein. “I sell to old suppliers who I used to buy from because now I buy second-hand and remanufacture the goods, so a large percentage of our product is sold to old suppliers.”
While he’s keeping his old customers happy, Mr. Goldstein has no problem reaching out with gusto to new ones.
“I just did a trunk show last week in Clayton, Missouri,” he says. “It was fantastic. The customers loved me because I said to them, ‘Let’s have fun! Come on. Try this on. Come on, have you ever put on a 3 million-dollar pink? Just put it on! I’ll take a picture of you wearing it.’
“I’d say to people, ‘Come here! Come here! Have you ever had a 5-carat fancy blue diamond on your finger?’ I’d say, ‘Come on, let’s take a picture.’ It’s fun! They text that picture to a husband or boyfriend and say, ‘I found this stone I like.’
“This is what life should be! We’re not selling equipment that’s going to save a life. People are just so under pressure, unfortunately, that they can’t take time to smell the roses, so we try to make it a little brighter, work with them differently. Whatever we can do, we do.
“In the old days, we’d fight for every penny. I just celebrated my 53rd birthday, and you know what I’ve learned? A little more, a little less, I’m not going to live any differently.
Somebody came up to me at a show, made me an offer that I would never normally accept, and I said to them, ‘Sold!’ They said, ‘really?’ And I said, ‘yes, take it. I’m making money, take it.’ This is what we want our customers to feel, that there’s more than just this sale.
“Call here, and you’ll see the difference. Someone will say to you, ‘What kind of stone are you looking for? Let’s see what we have and we’ll put three or four stones together for you, we’ll send them out, and if it works, great, send us a check. If it doesn’t work, send it back. We’re always here, no problem.’
“It’s amazing the difference in the way people talk with us because of that. I really want to keep it so you’re not insulted; you’re not belittled when you call.
“We try to make it a little fun. At the end of the day, if you have a problem here, I’ll fix it. It’s that simple. It’s not brain surgery. You’ve got a problem and you need to return it, we’ll write you a check, no problem. Why? Because it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We want our customers, and we want to be there every single day for them. It’s just imperative to me that everybody walks out of here at least happy.”