Meeting together for the third year in a row, attendees of the joint convention of Alabama and Georgia Jewelers Associations convened in Eufaula, AL for their 2011 meeting March 25-27. Held at the recently renovated Lakepoint State Park and Resort, the group enjoyed the usual convention happenings but with a new twist.
First thing Saturday morning the attendees took part in Quick Connect, a spin off of speed dating but for jewelers. Alabama executive director Kathy Beall said, “we are always looking for ways to enhance networking within the two groups, and this was an awesome way to open our event”!
Retailers and sales representatives alike were all invited to sit on either side of a double circle of chairs in the resort’s ballroom. When the starting bell was rung, each pair was to quickly introduce themselves to one another and tell a little about their business. At the end of three minutes the bell rang again and the outside circle stood up and moved one chair over to start a new session. At the end of 90 minutes the participants were almost back to their original seats and clamoring for more time and water.
“Everyone was talking so much we decided next time we do this we need to have bottled water to hand out,” said Judy Lince, executive director of Georgia Jewelers Association. “They talked about how great the quick connect was for the rest of the weekend.”
The idea came from Lince’s daughter Whitney, a high school senior who has assisted with the conventions for the last five years. She understood that networking is everyone’s favorite part of the meeting and knew from her high school sociology class that getting new people to interact is a challenge. A scene from a recent Will Smith movie provided the speed dating scenario and the 18 year old suggested using a version of speed dating for jewelers and came up with the Quick Connect title.
First time attendee and new member of both state associations Darrin Davis with Eastern Lighting said, “the quick connect was a huge success. It really broke the ice and allowed ‘newbies’ like myself to get to know many people in a short amount of time.”
Alabama president Nick Sanders, Nick Sanders Jewelers, Jasper, AL, said that he had “never met so many folks in such a short period of time. The Quick Connect at the beginning of the weekend was a great way to get to know people I might not get around to speaking with.”
Saturday morning’s keynote address was given by industry expert Brad Huisken, who presented “Create Your own Stimulus Package through Eliminating Lost Sales.” He kept his audience’s attention by mixing real life sales stories with topics every manager and owner should constantly be focused on in order to eliminate lost sales.
North Carolina native and retail jewelry store owner Bill Warren had the audience intrigued with the title of his presentation “How to Cook with Gas, Take No Prisoners and Build a Winning Jewelry Store.” Warren had the group’s full attention Sunday morning when he started his program playing the banjo and singing about his life in the jewelry business. After the light hearted into, Warren told the group about the many marketing ideas he has tried and what has worked for his business.
Annual design contests for both states, round table discussions, raffles with door prizes and a Texas Hold’em poker tournament to benefit Jewelers for Children (hosted by Southeastern Findings/Namano) were some of the other events filling the weekend. The winning foursome of the convention’s golf tournament was presented with watches courtesy of Bulova at Saturday night’s banquet. Many other door prizes from suppliers and retailers were given throughout the weekend.
Georgia president John Reed, JWR Jewelers in Athens, GA said at the conclusion of the weekend that both groups hope to hold a joint convention again next year. “After three years we are starting to become old friends and the synergy between the two states is fabulous.”
For more information about either state association or upcoming events you can contact Kathy Beall (AJA) at 770-751-8622 or Judy Lince (GJA) 770-424-7567.