September is always kind of special to me. It’s this time of year that reminds me of a second springtime. It goes something like this.
After every winter, humans are just ready to get out of their confined indoor spaces and get out into the sunshine. It’s a rebirth, if you will, of nature and the human spirit.
Living in the south, it’s not uncommon to have 39 straight days of 100+ degree temps during the summer. Everyone is once again cooped up indoors trying to stay out of heat. But once September rolls around, it is a much needed, welcome relief to get outside again and enjoy the fresh air. When the air finally cools off, it’s kind of like springtime all over again.
But, in the jewelry business, it’s the beginning of our business cycle. September is the month our industry ramps up for our biggest season and goes strong until the following summer.
If your business is like mine, the summer months are slooooooow. Most people (aka customers) are dealing with vacations, kids at camp, visiting relatives and such. Jewelry kind of takes a back seat to all of those other expensive activities.
By the time August rolls around, parents are buying new school clothes, band equipment, and school supplies that also eat into the old jewelry budget. But once September rolls around, things start to return to normal for most families. For me it’s usually about the 15th of September when the panic sets in.
This year, since September 15th falls on a Thursday, that means the following Monday, September 19th, is the official kick-off to the holiday season. WHAT? Did I just say ‘the holiday season’? Yep. Here’s why...
September 19th this year is the 60 day mark to the beginning of the jewelry industry’s most important financial season - Christmas. If you haven’t gotten your ducks in a row by a week or two weeks before Thanksgiving, you’re screwed.
Usually, by Thanksgiving I’m already sold out with custom work. I’m already putting in overtime to keep up with incoming orders so I don’t get behind. To stay ahead of this curve, I like to have all of my Christmas planning finished by the first week of November. All paperwork caught up. All displays cleaned. All gift-wrapping supplies in place. The stockroom cleaned out so I have available storage space for all of the boxes of stuff that come and go during December. That means it’s only 45 days from September 19th to the first week of November. In my world, 45 days may as well be tomorrow.
But it always makes me wonder; Where did the summer go? Let’s see what I didn’t accomplish this summer that I swore I was going to accomplish.
First off, I didn’t build my gem lab/appraisal/Internet/photography station at my store. It was supposed to be this really cool space that had room for all of my equipment to take in a piece of consignment jewelry, appraise it, photograph it, and put in on the Internet in one big smooth easy motion. Of course I can do all of that now, but right now I have to put one set of equipment away in order to have the room to set up the next operation. Hence, I’m always a day late and a dollar short on getting this work done. My new area was going to be really, really cool. I just wished I would have built it.
I also didn’t remodel my bathroom at home. For some reason I just never started that project that I swore I was going to do during the downtime of the summer. I wish I would have built that too.
I also didn’t play golf 3 evenings a week after work like I swore I was going to do. To tell you the truth, I haven’t played golf once this year. I wish I would have played more because now as I look at the calendar, I realize I don’t have the time to do any of it now because I need to concentrate on getting geared up for what I hope will be the strongest Christmas season for the jewelry industry in last 4 years.
Of course this was also the 35th summer in a row that I was going to get that ‘to die for’ killer beach body. This also marks the 35th anniversary of me not meeting that summertime goal either. Darn, what did I do this summer?
Ironically, as I look back, I actually had a busy summer doing actual jewelry work at the jewelry store. I’ve been a little out of practice being busy the last couple of years so I had some catching up to do.
But I did notice something. In any economic downturn, luxury businesses are the first to go and the last to recover. But... the jewelry repair business usually stays steady. But during the Great American Recession of late, the jewelry repair business came to a grinding halt. But, 4 years later, jewelry repair is normalizing. People are coming in again to get the basic bread and butter items like watch batteries and jewelry repair. And we all know that if we can get them in for the bread and butter, we get a chance to sell the sizzle along with the steak.
Anyway, look at a calendar and shake off the summer doldrums cause it’s time to go to work. Christmas is practically tomorrow.
Go get ‘em!
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.