Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The 2014 WCJE

It's a whole new ballgame without DiGem and The Martin Ross Group

WCJE 2014

Well another show is in the books.  How was the show you ask?  Let me tell ya.  The big buzz was about the pending closure of the Martin Ross Group.  When A&A closed down it was big news in the industry, but Libman and Master Design both at the same time?  Monumental!  The void was already felt with their absence as exhibitors.  They weren’t the only ones missing, and the show was noticeably smaller than last year.  Without those two suppliers, this show offered their dealers a chance to source alternatives, but more on that later…

The Canadian Jewellers Association, JVC and the “Connect for Success” committee produced an educational day on Thursday ahead of the show.  Due to set-up I couldn’t attend the whole thing, but it was very well-received by those who took the time.  I will do what I can to encourage and promote this effort in upcoming years.  Increased show participation depends on the value and excitement that this show provides to retailers.  An engaged and successful retailer will do their Fall buying at the show, offering value to the exhibitors.  And truthfully, waiting for the sales reps to come see you will NEVER give you the front-of-the-line selection, networking opportunities and one-stop shopping that the WCJE offers.

I haven’t heard any official numbers, but I’m pretty sure attendance by retailers was down.  Without the annual general meeting and festivities surrounding the disbanded DiGem buying group, their members had one less reason to make the trip.  Some have joined the CJG, and attended the buying show the previous week in Toronto.  But little of the drop in attendance can be blamed on buying groups as there were quite a few former DiGemmers in attendance, including my good friend Connie Kitigawa.  We will always welcome her participation in the industry and our lives due to the contributions she’s made to Digem, the industry and her friends.  Over the past 5 years, DiGem raised over $75,000 for charity through their “Digem Decadence” dinners and the Edmonton show, and even though the event was missed, the amazing impact on those charities endures as a legacy of the group!

…back to the Martin Ross thing.  Corona put on a very impressive 55th anniversary show of their own with a large addition to their usual space, including diamond cutting demos and a luxurious hospitality lounge.  While they stand to gain a lot of business from Libman and Master Design faithfuls, there will be circumstances where exclusivities, loyalties, flier program conflicts and capacity issues will have to be weighed-out.  It’s going to be a busy season for Corona and other suppliers (including myself) trying to adjust to these new realities!

I hope that it’s a long time before we forget the innovation, inspiration and enrichment that Mark Libman and the late Varouj Arkarakas (Master Design) contributed to our industry.  They were only successful because they helped so many retailers enjoy their own success.

Okay, so this turned into a sort of obituary for Martin Ross Group and DiGem.  On the bright side, those who came were upbeat about their prospects for a robust Fall season.  We sold some pretty amazing one-of-a-kind delivery pieces, leaving us working hard to assemble like-product for me to show you if I’m coming to see you soon.

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