Twenty years ago my wife and I opened our jewelry store in downtown Hudson, NC. Like many of you, we got started on a “wing and a prayer.” I had been running a store in nearby Lenoir, which was a chain operation and had only moved to the area two years prior. My wife was a hairdresser and like many young couples, we had the dream of owning a business.
Thanks to the customer following I had built up, a little start up money and my wife’s commitment to do whatever, we got our jewelry store going. Needless to say, things weren’t easy, but from day 1, the good Lord smiled on us and we developed a good trade of our own.
A few weeks into the whole thing, we were ready for our grand opening and that’s when it happened.... we heard one of our local competitors was going to try and knock our grand opening in the head with a huge media blast. Essentially, they were going to make our meager effort look like it got lost.
Fortunately, we have lots of friends in local media and I was tipped off about the whole thing. So I waited and let “the other guy” blow his wad - and he did! Right after this, we had our grand opening, which thankfully was successful. What am I getting at by telling you this story?
No matter what, never give up! Yes, its easy to get frustrated by your competitors, your lack of funds (at times) and all of the many other things that we jewelry store owners face, but let me say this, “PERSEVERE!”
One of the reasons I see so many jewelers being unsuccessful is that they give up on something way too easily; for example, new lines, new marketing, employees or themselves. Stand tough no matter what you face and meet it head on - you’ll come out stronger on the other side!
Now twenty years into this whole thing, we find ourselves with one of the busiest and largest volume stores in our area. We often get comments from others like, “How is it that you have this much traffic in such a small mountain town?” “How do you do well over a million dollars a year in the environment you are in with the economy being what it is?”
All I can tell you is - “PERSEVERANCE!” We stand tough when others give up and we take on jobs that often other jewelers refuse to do. Investing in a laser welder, CAD/CAM technology, learning to market our store in different ways has made us successful. We only have an average size store in a very, very small town that still surprises many readers when they stop by. But as I often say, “This is a jewelry store on STEROIDS!!”
One last word on competitors. I’m a huge fan of the late great football coach Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers. Good ‘ole Vince would make his players study the moves of his competition until they could almost predict the exact plays they would run and when they would run them. He also made his players practice the moves and countermoves until it became second nature.
You see, I’m a firm believer that you should study what the large jewelry chains are doing as well as your local competition - shop them, learn their habits, know what they carry! Then you can develop a plan that differentiates you from your competition. By all means, make your store stand out in the crowd.
Maybe you are like we were twenty years ago and sometimes feel overwhelmed by people and circumstances. Don’t get caught up in worrying about what others are doing either. Let your competitors worry about what you’re going to do! Let me encourage you to be like “The Little Engine That Could” and “PERSEVERE.” It’s what those at the front of the pack do!