Last updateMon, 23 Nov 2015 10pm

The Retailer’s Perspective: What kind of dinosaur are you?

My editor recently told me that a reader in their late 20s was telling him that he thought I was too negative and too much of a dinosaur. And you know what I’d like to say to this young reader? You’re right. I agree with you. But one is by choice and one, well, that’s just the way it is. It kind of goes like this…

Am I too negative?

On paper? Maybe. 

In person? Not at all. 

Not everyone who reads my columns gets to hang out with me all day every day to see I’m a pretty happy person in real life. But a very long time ago I started out my writing career as a contributing writer for Bench Magazine for Brad Simon (who also writes for this newspaper). One of the decisions I made way back then was to keep it real and not sugarcoat everything I wrote about. I used to love when my readers would tell me that when reading my articles they were mostly reading them looking for the ‘Oh crap’ moment that showed up in every single article!

In my opinion, most trade journalists only write about successes. They only write about how to do it right the first time, every time. They always seem to gloss right over all of the mistakes they made along the way till they finally got it right. Well, if no one is writing about the mistakes, how in the world can you learn how to spot them and avoid them? I decided a long time ago that there were enough writers in the world writing about what happens when it all goes right. I was going to do it differently. 

If you’ve been reading me for the last 13 or 14 years you know I’ve made my share of ‘oops’ along the way. I’ve written about my mistakes and documented what steps I took to get myself out of each and every jam. And, admit it, everyone loves watching a train wreck unfold! In my life I’ve had way more successes than failures, but I’ve never seen a reason to write about the successes because we all know what to do when everything is going great. Teach me what to do when everything is going wrong! 

Every self-help book, every trade publication, and every motivational website will tell you how to run a business when it’s making money and cash is flowing in every day. Even I don’t need help with that one. So, to all of my readers that feel I’m too negative, just know it’s on purpose. I like to write about my mistakes so maybe you won’t make the same ones. Anyone can go through the archives of my columns and see all the mistakes I’ve already made through the years and how I got it turned around. Trust me, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartaches and headaches because I’ve made lots of mistakes through the years. 

Remember this - running a company is a lot like exercising. You never ‘get there’ - ever.  Just because you exercised yesterday doesn’t mean you don’t have to exercise today. Just because your company was successful last year doesn’t mean it will be successful next year. You just gotta keep plugging along.

But, in the category of my successes, my company Touched Impressions that produces custom Fingerprint, Footprint, and Handprint jewelry is doing quite well and we’re adding new jewelry store accounts all over the United States to carry our products. You can find us at www.TouchedImpressions.com. So there, something positive!

Being a dinosaur

Guilty as charged! I know that I’m not alone in the struggle to keep up with the times nowadays. It’s something I’ve always called ‘trapped in the box.’ That box being the 1,000 sq. ft. retail store that is open 6 days a week with me inside that box every hour that it’s open. And, when I’m not in the box, there’s a pretty good chance I’m doing something that’s connected to the box like attending a jewelry show or conference. 

Like most of my readers out there, I’m not out riding my jet ski on Wednesday afternoon while someone else is running my store. I’m not laying out by the pool on Thursday morning while my business runs itself.  And I can’t tell you the last time I left at 2:00 on a Friday to meet my buddies for an early happy hour. And you know why? 

Because I’m trapped in the box!

But, to tell you the truth, I kinda like the box. Heck, I own everything in it. It’s decorated to my taste. It has all the creature comforts of home because it’s really just my home away from home. But there’s a point to this. Like so many business owners out there, the only perspective on the outside world that many of you see is through the front window of your box. Most of your thinking is inside the box, not outside of the box.  Although, when I’m thinking outside of the box I’m usually thinking of stuff I need to do inside the box tomorrow.

If I could spend a year just traveling around the country spending a couple of days inside everyone else’s box, I’d probably come up with lots of new ideas to use in my box. But, unfortunately I would then be living in a box because I wouldn’t have been there to run my business for a year and there would be no box to go back to.

So, for most of us out here, the only way we get to experience life in other boxes is by reading trade newspapers and publications that expound on the vast ways to spend money. Usually it’s money you don’t have to try something new that you don’t know if it will work in your box or not. But of course it has to work because the person who wrote the story is going on and on about how successful it is and it’s just the miracle you’ve been dreaming about. Until you buy it!

I swear, almost every trade publication, in every industry, is filled by writers that don’t actually work in the field they are writing about (except this one of course). I once went to a state’s annual conference and they had a well know business speaker delivering their keynote address. He was going on and on about the stupidest thing I’d ever heard anyone say to a group of business owners for about an hour. Then, he says, “Well, I’ve never owned a jewelry store, but if I owned one, this is exactly how I’d run it.” I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get up and leave the room.

So, before you call me a dinosaur, remember this - Six days a week I show up at my retail jewelry store and start putting merchandise out in the showcases. I then spend about 8-10 hours in that store working in the jewelry business. And I’ve been doing that since before many of you were even a twinkle in your parent’s eyes. 

As much as things have changed in the way we communicate with our customers, there are many things that haven’t changed. Expensive jewelry is still made out of gold, silver, or platinum. Fad jewelry, not so much. Diamonds and gemstones still look basically the same as they did 100 years ago and still adorn most expensive pieces. Fads use other stuff. Sizing an expensive ring is still done the same as it’s been done for 100 years. Fad jewelry usually can’t be sized. Setting an expensive 2.01 ct. VVS2, E-color, round brilliant diamond is still done the exact same way as they did it 100 years ago, with skill and talent. Fad jewelry doesn’t use 2.01 ct., VVS2, E-color diamonds.

Just wait until you’ve spent $15,000 or $20,000 on shiny new fads - that flopped - a couple of times and you’ll be right here with me using the same old tried and true methods of yesteryear. So call me a dinosaur if you want, but I’m still in business writing about all the mistakes and missed opportunities I’ve made and had. Don’t buy into all of the fads young man and you’ll probably be here reading my column for another 20 years… if you make it that long!

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. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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