|(Left to right) Members Tony Prater with wife, Robin Dober (Jensen Jewelers, Twin Falls, ID) relax with Mark, and father Ben David (Ben David Jewelers, Danville, VA) at the poolside cocktail party. (Photo: Barbara West)
Hedda Shupak (consultant and former editor-in-chief of JCK Magazine) set the tone with the keynote address: "Surviving the ‘New Normal' for the Jewelry Business." She outlined changes in consumer and industry trends: "There had been a fundamental moral shift in the consumer's mindset," said Shupak. "A new sense of frugality has changed ‘I want' to ‘we need.'" Shupak spoke on fashion trends, reaching the female self-purchase market and led the group in a series of exercises on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Megan Meinerding of Fruchtman Marketing spoke on Understanding Social Networks.
"Many of our members are already on Facebook," said Leading Jewelers Guild's Executive Director James "Jimmy" West, "but now we have a better sense of how it fits into the mix with traditional marketing."
Kathy Ireland (CEO and principal designer of Kathy Ireland World Wide) and her team introduced her new line of jewelry and the philosophy behind the designs. "At first I was skeptical of what appeared to be a celebrity endorsement," said Leading Jewelers Guild Chairman, Gene Thompson (Thompson Jewelers, Orlando, FL). "I was glad to learn that she's personally involved in designing each piece; in fact, I was impressed watching how carefully she set up her displays." The Guild's Buyers' Committee has selected pieces from the Kathy Ireland collection to be featured in the group's Fall catalogs. Member jewelers were given a photo opportunity with Kathy Ireland, to be used to personalize the co-branding efforts.
|(Left to right) Leading Jewelers Guild President, Robert Marks (Rogers Jewelry Co., Modesto, CA) presents the Leader of the Year Award to Brad Campbell (Morgan Jewelers, Salt Lake City, UT) in recognition of his service to the Guild as a member of the Buyers' Committee. (Photo: James "Jimmy" West)|
Leading Jewelers Guild members have dedicated a portion of each meeting to performance groups, where members can discuss their challenges and share information to resolve them. Initially organized by company size, members are able to "join" any group they chose. "We visualize these groups becoming a semi permanent part of the Leading Jewelers Guild experience," said Leading Jewelers Guild President Robert Marks (Rogers Jewelers, Modesto, CA). "In our group, we will be sharing financial information, holding each other accountable for progress, and perhaps even arranging store visits between Leading Jewelers Guild meetings."
During the "Best Promotions" session, members shared ideas in a multitude of subject areas. New members Lyle and Marquirette Fields (Marquirette's, Montgomery, AL) introduced themselves to the group and shared how they had transitioned their business from manufacturing to retail, from New York "back home" to Montgomery. Julie Sather (Sather's Leading Jewelers, Ft. Collins, CO) spoke on mounting a campaign, building all the elements necessary for a successful promotion. Tobey Ritchie (Harry Ritchie's Jewelers, Eugene, OR) presented a plan to hold associates and supervisors accountable by drilling deeper into the reasons why individual customers did not buy. Tony Prater and Allen Easterling (Jensen Jewelers, Twin Falls, ID) shared their unusual promotion "The Great Heist!" "The sale made quite an impression in most of our markets," said Tony Prater, "even though it made some local law enforcement officials a bit nervous." Other subjects shared included managing online reviews, saving on postage and insurance costs, special events and trunk shows, and charity events.
After three days of presentations and member sharing, the event concludes with a two-day vendor show. About 50 vendors were invited to exhibit their lines and services. These included key Leading Jewelers Guild suppliers for the group's upcoming fall catalog program, as well as a number of new vendors including Michael Werdiger, R&R Grosbard, Gems-One, Malakan, Stanley Robin and Variety Gem, to name just a few.
|Veteran vendor West Bryson with Leading Jewelers Guild Executive Director James "Jimmy" West and wife, Barbara. Bryson holds the record for the number of Leading Jewelers Guild July Shows attended. (Photo: Brian Cimino)|
Members, vendors, staff and their families relaxed together at a poolside cocktail party, held in the hotel's lush outdoor spaces, which included Leading Jewelers Guild's annual awards presentation. Kenny and Richard Harrison of Star Ring (Chatsworth, CA), were named the 2008 Vendor of the Year for their development of "P4" a special alloy of silver, gold, palladium and platinum. Brad Campbell (Morgan Jewelers, Salt Lake City, UT), was named 2008 Leader of the Year in recognition of his many weeks of service to Leading Jewelers Guild on the Buyers' Committee. The awards are commemorative plaques signed by all the members and their families; often the awards have dozens of signatures and inscriptions.
New associate members welcomed into the group at the meeting included Lyle and Marquirette Fields (Marquirette's, Montgomery, AL) and Steven Singer and Jenny Robbins (Steven Singer Jewelers, Philadelphia, PA).
Leading Jewelers Guild, an organization completely owned by its member jewelers, through its strategic relationships and collective buying power, offers their retail membership the opportunity to lower overall operating costs and increase buying power in a strong, relationship driven environment. A full service merchandising and strategic planning operation, Leading Jewelers Guild is an invaluable marketing, catalogue production and advertising resource dedicated to the overall business needs of their member companies. For more information contact James "Jimmy" West, Executive Director at (310) 820-3386.