A New York State Of Mind?

I’m contemplating a retail venture in New York. Someone said to me,
“remember, these are New Yorkers, its not like New England or the
West Coast”.

Anybody like to chime in here with thoughts about New Yorkers vs
Somewhere-elsers as customers?

Not that this will make or break, but forewarned is forearmed.



You didn’t say if you’re going to N.Y. state or Manhattan.

I deal with lots of jewelers and those that are NEAR Manhattan say
the competition on price makes it difficult. Repairs are not as bad
as its trust driven.

David Geller

New York City (I assume you’re talking about the city and not the

Way, way, way more expensive than any other venue. Rents will be 5
times what you’re paying now (well, Neil, actually I think you’ve
mentioned your current rent is really low so it’s probably more like
20-30 times what you’re paying now). Security guards are mandatory
in any jewelry store in New York (I have never been in any without
one—including the smallest of the small). Insurance costs are
significantly higher. Absolutely everything you do will cost twice
what it costs elsewhere. Buildout of a new store will be at least
that. Salaries for employees will be significantly higher and you
will need to be open longer hours and have more employee coverage
(New York is open 24/7 and while you may not have to be open
overnight, you will need to be open 7 days a week and lots of places
are open until 7, 8 or 9 at night as New York is extremely lively at
night). Advertising costs will be astronomical (just check out what
it costs to run a print ad in the New York Times). Prepare to raise
your prices by at least two to three times what you are charging now
(maybe more and especially for your custom work). On the other hand,
New Yorkers love to shop and they are prepared to pay higher prices
because everything costs more there. They can be a lot more fashion
oriented and are always looking for the new thing (which often means
that when you aren’t new anymore you’re not going to maintain the
same size customer base). You’ll need a big advertising blitz to
begin with so you’re seen as something new and exciting (big expense
again) and you may need to reinvent yourself every 5-10 years. But
there is a HUGE amount of money that can be made there if you’re
prepared to put on a good show. You’re just going to need a big
upfront chunk of cash to get you through the beginning.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

I don’t know about customers but I will say it is the only place
I’ve been run over by a pedestrian! I was foolish enough to stop at a
corner and try to wait for legal right of way (you know what with
the pedestrian signals on the traffic lights and I thought they might
be there for a reason), the rest of the crowd just swarmed on past,
around, over the silly tourist.

Best of luck!


I am in a tri-state and yes New York is like nothing else. You will
be competing in 5 segment market.

Tourists - real find for a retailer. Somehow, when they get to New
York, it is shop till you drop. You must be in the right location
for this and rent is prohibitively expensive.

Super rich - they like to shop at Tiffany, Cartier, and the like. If
you want their attention, you must meet their expectations and it is
quite high. A lot of collectors, very knowledgeable.

Patrons of the 47 street - That is where everybody have a personal
jeweler. Not necessarily good, but they feel comfortable with him. If
that the market you are after, spent some time walking through the
exchanges to get the feel of it. Quite educational. There is another
world of jewelry, above the street level, but it mostly wholesale and

Canal street - step down in quality and integrity from 47 street but
more ethnically friendly. English is not a requirements to succeed
on Canal street. If you looking for $50 Rolex or 50 carat “pigeon
blood ruby” that the place where you can find it.

Borough jewelers - serving people who consider trip to Manhattan a
grand vacation which should not be attempted more than twice in
one’s life. You get the drift.

It could be very lucrative, but to paraphrase russian saying "
Measure 7 times before you cut ". I was in that cauldron for 30
Now I am internet only.

That is of course only my opinion, other may have different take on

Leonid Surpin.

Hi Neil- A dangerous proposition - broad brushing populations. But
that said we have noticed differences in how New Yorkers approach a
“merchant”/ artist vs. how folks from south of the Mason/Dixon line

After they decide they like a piece-NYer many want to bargain. Most
are pretty thick skinned- but it is always best to feel them out- you
don’t want to be too rough on the wrong person and hurt their
feelings. The asking for a bargain thing is really just a game-
nothing personal- so it’s best for you not to take it personally -
best to keep things on the light side- even if you’re having a record
bad show- they don’t need to feel that. I’ve found the best way to
handle this is the following: When they ask for a better price

1- make a joke out of it- Yes I can double it!

2- if you’re really feeling pressured to make a sale- and are willing
to go down in price somewhat- make them start first- never give them
a price till you get it out of them what a better price means! Many
times they simply back off- and are embarrassed - then you can
encourage them to name a price-any price- and its usually so
ridiculous- they don’t want to insult you, etc that they ask for $10
or $25 off on an over $500 piece-and if that’s ok with you- they’ll
buy it.

  1. the “pros”- they always cut it right in half. Then just make it a
    joke- or start the process by giving them a bit off- really
    important- decide before you get to the show and make it a policy -
    what is the most amount by percentage that you are willing to take
    your price and still feel good about the sale? Whatever happens-
    don’t go beyond that point. Even if it $5- the hard core ones will
    say- oh c’mon-it’s only 5 bucks! So play- turn it around on them- -if
    it’s only 5 bucks- then you don’t mine paying it!- most don’t get to
    that point though-

  2. sales tax- a majority of NYers want to get out of paying sales
    tax. Just don’t let them do that. You have to pay the sales tax- it’s
    not worth getting busted for it- remember- you don’t know who you’re
    talking to. Tell them to complain to the mayor if they don’t want to
    pay the tax- but you are a legitimate biz- they may not like it but
    they will respect you for it- and you do tell the truth about your
    product don’t you? I feel that it’s better to act with integrity-
    with sales tax. If you’re so inclined to discount your work that much
    tell them ok I’ll pay your tax for you- but don’t ever say you won’t
    charge the sales tax.

  3. NYers are just people - only difference is that they see a lot of
    product- and at a wide level of price levels. So they are not easily
    impressed. We have found that we have had to do numerous shows in NY
    to get enough money out of them that it is worth the work and expense
    and risk. Be careful- check your car before heading out on the open
    highway. It’s best not to work alone- and never ever leave your bag
    unattended or more than one piece out- read Jeweler’s security
    alliance best practices for traveling sales people 1st to get a
    reality check.

  4. we have had some very good show in NY as well as some that have
    disappointed. Personally- I like the excitement of meeting folks from
    all over the world who come there as tourists- and the NYers are ok

Good Luck Neil!
Rona Fisher

Hi Neil,

I lived and worked in NY and it definitely is a state of mind. The
most frequent problem I had was the attitude that “they could get it
made on 47th st cheaper”.

so, make sure any designing you do for a customer has a no refund
deposit on it. This is so your customer doesn’t take your design and
head on down to 47th St. and share your design with someone who will
do it “cheaper”.

nuf said,

jennifer friedman

i’m assuming by new york you mean the state, not just the city.
anyways- I like your number two response of making the potential
customer start by making an offer. it’s usually a good place to
start. A caution about sales tax. You must show it on the receipt.
Don’t put sales tax included. If by some reason you are audited by
the state they will charge tax on the bottom line plus fines and
penalties. Welcome to NY. I counter this by marking up my pieces by
an extra 10% and then tell them the tax is included if the customer
doesn’t want to pay it but I’m sure to show it on the receipt. They
make inexpensive calculators with this function built in. We use them
in my shop all the time.