Monday, 24 June 2013

Jewellery Store Washed Away in Flooding

Best wishes, and prayers go out to Wayne & Joanne Austen of High River, Alberta whose newly renovated store was nearly gutted by the flooding last week.  As the waters began to encroach upon downtown streets where Austen Jewellers is located, Wayne was attempting to “batten down the hatches,” when the first of the large picture windows in an adjacent gift-shop imploded.  He then helped a few ladies through the chest-high water to safety, during which time he had an acute revelation of how dangerous the forces of this rushing water could be.

Today the Austens remain in nearby Okotoks, awaiting the green light to return to their home, which thankfully appears to have sustained very little water infiltration.  Having lost three vehicles to the flooding, one has already been settled with insurance.  Still no word on what roll insurance will play in the building which plays host Austen Jewellers, a gift-shop, eye-wear store and other businesses; nor on whether his business insurance will cover the furniture and fixtures.  The initial news reports state that homeowners insurance would not normally cover over-land flooding, but Provincial and Federal disaster relief will be in-place shortly to help repair what insurance doesn’t.

If insurance and disaster-relief fails to help the Austens rebuild their store, can anyone out there suggest a way in which we as an industry can pull together to assist them?  I haven’t asked, but maybe some temporary showcases will be required until insurance and contractors are arranged.  Let me know if you have any thoughts.  I won’t try to “pass the hat,” or organize anything until we know more about available aid. 

For now, just keep them in your thoughts.  Send them an encouraging note if you know them.  Appreciate your warm and dry store, knowing that any one of us could have been affected by a natural disaster.

3rd Avenue West looking West - High River

3rd. Avenue West looking East - High River

Austen Jewellers is located where the beam is sticking out of the window

Bat-Sheba Gift Shop, adjacent to Austen Jewellers - where the first picture window let-go

Alberta Premier Allison Redford sees first-hand the incredible destruction

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Let’s Think This Through…

In Vegas, Martin Rapaport stood-up and made a haunting statement.  With regards to the various grading standards among competing diamond grading labs, he stated “at least we have something to complain about.”  So, let’s think this through.  Were there no diamond labs, what would our industry look like?  Well, assuming there is still an I3 through FL clarity scale and D-Z color scale, I would speculate that there will still be diamond dealers who apply those descriptions with strict integrity, and those who “stretch” a bit, and then those who “stretch” a lot.  There would remain those jewellers who choose their dealers based upon their own level of integrity.

What would be missing?  The official looking piece of paper that can be used to convince unwitting consumers that they’re getting a great deal; and which can also be used to assure savvy consumers that they’re getting the quality they desire.  If there were no diamond labs, that might be good for Gem Scan, I.G.L. and Harold Weinstein because some consumers would insist upon an unbiased “second opinion” because they don’t trust their local jeweller.

In all likelihood our Canadian appraisal labs would generate their own reputations, and you’d end-up with one taking the moral high-ground, one catering to those who want a preferential grade and one would land in the middle. 

Is this just human nature, or is it our industry?  I’m not totally sure, but I’m going to interview people from various other industries and just see if there are similar problems elsewhere in our crazy world.  Watch for the results in an upcoming Canadian Jeweller Magazine article by yours truly…

Monday, 3 June 2013

JCK Vegas Days 2-3-4

…chiming in a little late.  That’s Vegas for you.  If you can live on 5 hours of sleep per night, this is your town.

As the show is now in its’ final day, I’ve worked a few mornings at the Lashbrook booth, provided input to purchases for Steve’s store, and selected some new gemstones for future Customgold designs and added new skus to Courtney Gold’s offerings.  Besides show-business,  there have been social gatherings including a 24kt club Canada dinner organized by Gunther Mele’s Darryl King, a dinner with Fishers, Austen’s and team Foster at P.F. Chang’s (our favorite!), a CJG cocktail reception, and the ever popular “JCK Rocks the Beach” pool party.

This year’s beach bash featured a live performance by Maroon 5.  Word to the wise: If you’re coming to future shows, try your best to register for “Luxury by JCK”.  Without those badges, you might have waited in line for two hours, like some of our friends and not made it into the much anticipated event.  I, fortunately, had such credentials by being affiliated with Steve’s store.  Maroon 5 did all of their famous songs including “My Heart’s a Stereo,” “Moves Like Jagger,” “Payphone,” and “One More Night.”  The place was packed, and it was hard to move.  Many Canadians gathered together, and those who made it in had a lot of fun.  Thank you to the CJA for hosting a cabana and some drinks for Canadian members!

The size and scope of the show, the entertainment, and the venue all combine to provide a compelling draw for Canadian Retailers.  There was even talk of creating a “Canadian Pavilion” in the international section of the show.  I’m not so sure that exhibitors such as Corona and Beverly Hills would want to move to such a location, but with something like 1,700 Canadians registered for last year’s show it’s possible that more Canuck exhibitors could join-in.

I met Phil Payne, the new owner of the Canadian jewellery shows last night, and he confirmed that each show, Toronto and Edmonton will be awarding a brand new Lexus to one lucky retailer in attendance.  Not a one-year lease, not a two-year lease, but a free Lexus.  The car giveaway sponsor is to be announced soon.  Make your plans now for your chance to win!

Exhibitors we spoke to reported strong sales, and there seemed to be a bit more action in Vegas than in most years I’ve been here.  Maybe the US economy is on the mend, or maybe more Canadians coming here is keeping the Vegas lights bright!

More reflections on seminars to come; including thoughts on the Rapaport diamond conference.