Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Let's Get Frank!

It's time to stop pussy-footing around important issues in our industry.

The world has become increasingly open to talking about things that were in the past considered indelicate.  Feminine hygiene, bladder leaks, bum-wiping and impotence are all boldly addressed during prime-time commercial breaks.  The world seems willing and even eager to brashly dive-in head-first to tackle problems formerly hidden in closets, and buried under mattresses.

Is the jewellery industry keeping up with the times?  Are we brashly standing up for our industry and our businesses?  Why do we pull punches.  Are we the embodiment of the polite Canadian stereotype?  Are we afraid of getting sued?  Do we have too much respect for our competition to somehow maliciously degrade them?  We probably don’t want to appear negative by putting someone else down.  Maybe we just don’t have good answers to some of our more embarrassing problems.

I enjoyed hearing about how a jeweller in Ontario posts a sign in his store titled “travellers alert.”  This sign points-out the real risks of buying jewellery while on vacation.  We can all testify about friends and clients who bought ridiculous jewellery while under the influence of margaritas, sunscreen or whatever it is that causes the irresistible urge to buy stupid things.  Independent jewellers can do a better job of warning our clients of the risks.  At the same-time you can also coach them on what kinds of things they should feel free to buy while on vacation.  How many times have I sold someone a $1,000 or $2,000 setting for a  $25 gemstone they bought on a cruise?  You’ll have a hard time competing with the experience of picking-out an opal in Australia, but if you tell them what kind of opal to look for, and then help them create a setting for their precious souvenir, you can be a hero and make a few bucks yourself.

Internet retailers are slamming you every chance they get.  They’re not afraid of telling your clients how inconvenient it is that you’re not open 24 hours, how much pressure it is shopping with you and how much you overcharge for your jewellery.  Are you just going to just take that lying down?  How about reminding your clients that you offer 60 more hours per week of opportunities to see, touch and feel real live jewellery (before they buy) than internet retailers?  You can stand-up for yourself, and say, “we who live in, work and support this community appreciate and need you shopping local.”  Spend time, effort and money reinforcing the value of hand-selected quality designs that are waaay more sought-after than the photo-shopped trashy leftovers available 24/7 on the worldwide dumping ground.

If you’ve invested the time actually looking at jewellery sold by volume retailers you might just be appalled enough to begin calling a spade a spade (or a F---ing shovel).  There’s so much frozen spit, misrepresentation, tinfoil-thin settings, rejection quality gemstones and truly impractical designs out there that you should be indignant, insistant and assertive when it comes to blowing your own horn!

Do you believe that you can’t compete against the volume buying of chain stores?  If you do, give up.  Do you think the industry will eventually get swallowed-up completely by the interweb?  Might as well pull the plug right now.  If you are convicted that as an independent retailer you have unique and high-quality jewellery, and that your delivery provides clients with unparalleled benefits, then I think you just might go somewhere in this business.  Don’t be shy.  Stand up for yourself!

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