There’s a strange feeling that I’ve been getting lately. It’s like dejá vu. It’s like something I’ve felt before, but not in a long time. It’s hard to describe. It’s... well, it’s a feeling of finally moving forward again. It’s kind of like I felt when I first became a businessman 30 years ago. Back when I thought I was gonna set this industry on fire. How about a little history...
In 1983, quite by accident, I opened my first company. The trade shop I still own to this day. Back then, I never really planned on being in this business for 35 years. My plan was to do this bench jeweler thing while I put myself through college (which I did). Then I planned on moving to Nashville and setting the entertainment industry on fire. Well, I may not have actually set the entertainment industry on fire, but I sure did have a lot of fun. I was a successful business exec and ran one of the largest film/video studios during in an era when country music videos were the biggest thing on TV. But, I always had my shop set up somewhere to play around with in my spare time.
Then one day, I grew tired of the entertainment industry and miraculously stumbled into a jewelry store that was for sale and bought it on the spot. That was almost 20 years ago.
The first 10 years of being a businessman and owning a jewelry store were great. Business was good and I was always adding to and growing the business. I remember how cool it was when someone would come in and notice something new that I’d added. Yep, I was kicking ass and taking names back then.
Then something went very wrong. My location died. And worse yet, it was a very slow, drawn out death. Ouch! Of course that was also right about the same time that the Internet came around and changed how people bought diamonds. Double ouch!
Being a businessman during those years in ‘hunker down’ mode, trying to formulate a new plan of action, was no fun. I finally made the decision to move the store from its original location of 60 years. It took me over a year to find the perfect location and facilitate the move. It was a pretty daunting task, but I got through it.
So, 5 years ago, in the summer of 2007, I moved into my new location and once again I was kicking ass and taking names. Life was good. Then, a year and a half later, October 2008 occurred and we all know what happened next. Another ouch! Once again I found myself in ‘hunker down’ mode. And - for the record - I never went into business to be in ‘hunker down’ mode. I went into business to be in kick ass mode.
So, like so many others out there, I spent the next 3 years just trying to hold on. I saw the bottom, and let me tell you something, the bottom was ugly. It was touch-and-go there for a couple of years, but slowly and surely things began to turn around.
When the recession started, I serviced 22 trade accounts in 12 states. Only 3 survived the recession. That’s 19 stores that the recession swallowed. That was also about 85% of my income. Try running on 15% for a few years and you learn to hunker down real fast.
But you know what, that’s just not the case anymore. For the first time in a long time I’m in expansion mode again. I even started a new company with a brand new jewelry product this year. I wouldn’t have even considered this endeavor a year ago and I’m pretty fired up about it.
Now, since I’m back in ‘bid-ness man’ mode, I’m actually paying attention to the things that I can control again and not just riding out the storm. The storm has passed and it’s time to clean house and rebuild the company.
A couple of months ago I wrote about my newfound realization about the importance of an impressive web presence. Now I’m actually trying to make mine the best it can be. Two years ago it didn’t really matter because sales were in the toilet with no end in sight. Now, I’m putting energy into these business matters again. I purposely left my old website up for a while so everyone could go and see how weak my Internet presence was. Who looked and saw how bad it was?
While at the RJO Show in Nashville in early February, I even looked at capital equipment to expand my services for the first time in 5 years. Of course, after 3 years of recession, it’s still hard for me to pry open my wallet. My heart says buy it, but my head says ‘Whoa’.
Well, I hope my heart wins out cause I’m feeling the love of being a ‘bid-ness man’ again. Woo Hoo 2012!!!
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.