Friday, 29 March 2013


Where do you get yours?  This past week I was listening to an audiobook about the hard life of Johnny Cash.  Ahead of an album featuring songs about the “old West,” he got himself lost in the desert, had to kill a jack-rabbit with a bowie knife to eat, and at one point was found face-down on the ground by a park ranger.  He did this for inspiration.

What do we do for inspiration?  I’ve heard tell about jewellers found face-down on the ground by Las Vegas policemen.   As recently discussed with Stacey Gelmici, the jewellery shows seem to be a valuable source of inspiration.  I’m looking forward to the SmartShow in Chicago to learn, observe and share with retailers and wholesalers. 

Baron Carter worked at Independent Jewellers Superstore while he was going to school in Edmonton for inspiration and experience.  When I was in the business for less than six months, I visited Tony Cavelti’s store on a trip to Vancouver.

Magazines, training programs, blogs, jewellery TV:  inspiration is everywhere!  How about this one … ready for it?   Talk to your clients.  Ask them about their feelings about jewellery and about your store. 

Once inspired, you’re a much more interesting jeweller to talk to.  You’ve got more to talk about, and you’re more engaged.  When you’re engaged, it’s easier to engage your clients.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Why do You do it?

In 1987, after entering the fourth year of the three-year B.A. degree at the U of A, I scoured the Edmonton Journal “help wanted” ads.  This was not the most prosperous time in Alberta’s history, but there were a few job openings at grocery stores and retail shops.  When I saw the ad for Forest of Jewels in Heritage Mall, I thought, “I like jewellery, so why not?”  Jewellery was something our family honored as a meaningful gift, and my departed grandfather had been a hobby-lapidary who made belt buckles, bolo ties and brooches from stones he had collected and polished.

I also recall thinking that helping people celebrate special moments in their lives was a good way to earn a living while I finished off the last couple of courses towards my arts degree.  As it turned-out I really enjoyed the experience and thought that the reps had a pretty good life; travelling around in nice new cars and expertly advising retailers on the merits of their products.  They didn’t happen to mention the dull, dangerous, depressing and stressful parts of their jobs, but that’s okay because I love it, warts-and-all!

This year more than most I’ve enjoyed hearing how some of you found your way into the industry; one of the most amusing of which was told to me by Jackie Doll; whose Mom Angela had returned from a trip abroad where a jewellery wholesaler mistook her for a retail jeweller.  She came home and asked Jackie for a portion of her college savings in order to buy a used showcase and fill it with jewellery in the corner of a clothing store.  They now operate four stores in Northwestern Alberta.

We all started somewhere, but have stuck with this industry because we can earn a good living, have fun with great colleagues and take pride in helping people develop their personal fashion and share gifts of love.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Spence gets Hand Slapped

Thanks to David Keeling who forwarded me the link to a story on Spence Diamonds.  I think this is a company that independent jewellers have come to hate because we end-up losing sales to them and then cleaning up messes from negative customer experiences.  This article reveals the numerous BBB complaints against them and how their marketing doesn’t match-up with their reality.

"We are proud of the experience and products we offer our customers. We take the role we play in our customer's 'happily ever after' very seriously," wrote Jones.  Really Sean?  This pride and this role has lead to 41 BBB complaints over the past three years in B.C. alone!!!

Yesterday I heard an ad on the radio by Sean Jones, talking about how Spence’s new policy is to take care of service, repairs and stone-loss forever with no annual inspection.  What do you think?  Do you think a new lifetime warranty and service policy is enough to make-up for the damage they’ve done?  Do you think you’ll lose more business from new diamond shoppers because of their new warranty?  Do you think Sean Jones is a dork?

Read the full article HERE

Thursday, 14 March 2013


Massive kudos to those of you who are focusing on creating a winning customer experience.  I’ve been in some rare stores (not yours) where customers seem to be a distraction to their busy-work.  I’m glad that my best clients are happy to greet new customers and ecstatic to welcome-back existing clients.  Whether you are naturally outgoing, and very easily connect with people, or you have a system in place to ensure that clients receive a methodically welcoming, inviting, compelling and effective shopping experience, it’s fabulous to see so many stores turning their focus from order-taker to advisor.  From cashier to cache.  From reluctant to rejoiceful.  From insecure to inspiring.

Remember that selling someone a piece of jeweller earns you a sale, but selling someone on you and your store earns you a client.  It’s easy to get lost in solving the puzzle of “what can I show this person that they’ll like.”  Until you know a little bit about them, and tell them features and selling points that line-up with their values or their unique requirements, you can easily be replaced by a robotic jewellery retrieval system.

Once you’re enthusiastically focused on the people who ultimately put food on your table, and their needs, you can sell them things they didn’t know they wanted to buy.  Guys come into jewellery stores thinking that they “need” a piece of jewellery to satisfy a “gift-giving occasion.”  What he needs is to show her how much she means to him.  They may need to say, “sorry I screwed-up.  I sacrificed some of what I was saving for that new quad to give you something to symbolize that you’re more important.”  She needs to celebrate his job promotion by giving him something that will make him feel important and fashionable.

After every sales presentation see if you can answer two questions.

Was I as effective as I could be in solving their reason for coming in today?

Did I draw them closer to me and our store so that they desire to give us their future business?

Friday, 8 March 2013

Be a Curator

I know from many of you that you don't want to buy "museum pieces", so the phrase "curator" may turn you off of reading this article, but read it anyway and think about the ways the merchandisers are creating less dense attractive museum quality displays in order to make your store "hip."  Do take the time to click on the "retail curators website" for another great article on this subject.

Thank you David Squires of InStore for THIS

Thursday, 7 March 2013

What’s the A.S.A.?

No, I’m not talking about a headache remedy.  Is everyone on the sales floor knowledgeable about “articulated sales arguments?”  I hope so.

I stay in a lot of hotels, and I try never to keep a predictable travel pattern for security’s sake.  I used a travel booking website to book a motel three nights ago and I wasn’t thrilled enough to return to it.  Timing allowed me to return to the same town the next night, so I went into the hotel next door.  I asked the assistant manager, “which hotel are you?”  He said “Huh?”  I said “tell me about your hotel. What are you about?  What are your rates?”  He went right to their “low shoulder season rates,” because that was the only aspect of the hotel that he could articulate.

He could have said, “do you like waffles,” (who doesn’t???) and I would have said, “I love waffles!”  He could have then revealed that fresh waffles were part of their free breakfast.  Then he could have told me about the 42” flat screens and high quality linens on their new Posturepedic mattresses; all of which were superior to the neighboring hotel.  Well, because I was tired, I agreed to spend the extra $5 on this hotel, hoping that it was worth the extra expense.  Had he articulated their unique selling appeals, I might have willingly paid $10 or $15 more for this superior hotel.

I’ve written in the past about the “articulated sales argument” for your store.  Now consider that every design you carry has a reason for being.  There was a reason that it stood out from all of the other designs in the sample line, and why that supplier stood out from all of the other suppliers. 

Choices are everywhere.  Consumers can shop with you, the chain store, the internet or the home shopping channel.  There’s not only yellow Gold, but white Gold, Platinum, Palladium, Sterling Silver, Titanium, Tungsten, Cobalt Chrome, Zirconium and Ceramic.  Diamonds can be certified by AGS, EGL, GIA, HRD, GemScan, CGL or not at all.  Every option in this entire paragraph has consequences for the consumer.

I hope this doesn’t inconvenience you too much, but your job is to know the A.S.A.s of all of your products and how they compare to that of your competition.  If you don’t know why anyone would want a Customgold design, just ask me for a PK session next time I’m in town.  I’ll give you every reason why a consumer receives unparalleled value when they purchase a CG ring.  When other suppliers come to you, ask them for their A.S.A.’s, and they too will have their own reasons for being. 

Remember, properly selected jewellery can last a lifetime.  How you council a client on their purchase today will have consequences for years to come.  Lining up the articulated sales argument of a design with the values of your client will ensure an awesome jewellery buying experience for them!    

Friday, 1 March 2013

Mokume, Mock-a-you?

When I first laid eyes on Mokume Gane rings, I was in love.  Mokume Gane is Japanese for “burl-metal.”  The centuries-old technique involves bonding layers of various colors of gold and/or silver, copper and other metals.  The technique involves heating the billets to near melting point so that they turn into one solid mass.  When hammered, rolled-out and etched in some way, the wavy layers resemble the swirls and striations of burl-wood.

Mokume rings can be very expensive due to the hours of labor which go into forming the metal before the piece of jewellery can be fashioned.  Mokume rings are closer to the value of platinum than plain gold.  Like natural fancy diamonds it’s very rare.  Like platinum, exclusivity is evident and like Rolex watches, there’s a sense of old-world craftsmanship.

To take jewellery to the extreme, you can look at two major categories of product.  There are those that are or resemble popular designs.  With these crowd-pleasers, you compete against everyone else who sells similar looking product to see who can deliver the best price for a given karatage or carat-weight.  The second category includes designs that are unique and different.  Your job is to convince people that they can adopt these to standout from the crowd.  The former are easier to sell and result in ever decreasing margins.  The latter takes more effort, but the reward is higher margins and a greater degree of customer satisfaction.  After-all, when was the last time someone came into your store and proudly stated, “I want something really common; preferably something you’ve sold to 8 or 10 other ladies in my vicinity.”