Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Embrace your inner "Diamond Monger"

A recent CBC radio article focused on lax standards in Canadian food labeling.  With lax requirements and deceptive practices, up to 40% of the fish you buy could be different than what you thought you were getting.  According to the experts involved, a variety of fish species can be substituted for “sole” and marketed as such.  It is also easy to substitute farmed fish where consumers might be expecting natural ocean caught varieties.  Once the head is off the fish, it might take an expert and/or DNA testing to catch the substitution of a $4/lb fish for a $16/lb fish.

While it would be natural at this point for me to go-on about misrepresented diamonds, I’ve got another take on this issue.

Grocers could send samples of the fish they buy to DNA labs to ensure that they’re offering accurately labeled product (and not getting ripped-off themselves.)  CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonte made the point that traditional “fish mongers” were much better able to identify and accurately represent what they sell.  While fish can pass through up to 7 different hands before reaching the consumer, fish mongers deal more directly with fishermen and direct suppliers. 

An expert fish monger would not be fooled by inaccurately labeled fish because they know their product.  They can tell the difference between varieties by their smell, their texture and because they control their supply-chain more closely than larger retailers.

You who I write to and serve are independent jewellery stores.  You are the modern-day fish mongers… in fact… that would makey you… you’re DIAMOND MONGERS.  You know your product, you control your supply-chain more closely than the chain stores.  The larger the operation, the harder it is to keep up quality.  How do you compete against the big boys???  Your quality has to be better, and you need to know your product more intimately.

Are you intimidated by the buying power of the big chain stores?  You shouldn’t be, because you’re a diamond monger.  You buy from smaller manufacturers like Customgold who hand-select each gemstone they sell, and who know a good and fresh cert from a stinky-one.

When I hear comments like “Wow, I thought we couldn’t get nice diamonds like these because the Asian buyers were buying-up all of the good stuff,” it tells me that this retailer has only seen product from the big institutional manufacturers. 

You have options.  Think small in order to think big.  Embrace your inner diamond monger.  Keep your supply chain tight and know your stuff.  Anybody that sells you a carp in place of a halibut should be eliminated from your supply chain.  Enjoy the current climate where people who have money want the good stuff.  Give it to them; or else your competition will.