[Biz talk] Ain't no 'biz!


I wonder how many of you are having the same experience we are
having here in California…I can’t recall there ever having
been such a pall over business for this time of the year.
Furthermore, it is not just the jewelry business…it is general
and widespread.

I have also gotten this reaction from people in other states. Anyone
else out there having the same experience ?

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.

Gee, I thought it was only happening in Ohio! Our gallery is usually
open wed - sat. In the last two months, I sit there without anyone
coming in during the week. There is a bit of activity on Saturday -
mostly in the afternoon. There are many restaurants around us, and
they seem to be very busy.

And I thought that this “pall” was only in Toronto…I’ve never seen
it so bad in this industry. One of my favourite diamond dealers who
used to do $10M each year said it’s absolutely “DEAD”. I am hearing
that 4 suppliers in wholesale have closed down their companies up
here; Chapter11 during the past 3 weeks. The repercussions will be
’felt’ everywhere.

Two of the 3 biggest Canadian companies are still on short time and
don’t know when it’s going to improve. So what is happening now? The
bigger guys are buying out all of those ailing shops and their
inventory, holding on till it improves later…? One of our biggest
trade buildings is like a morgue, or a bowling alley on each floor. I
get depressed if I have to visit some of my downtown suppliers, its
that bad…:>(…

Gerry Lewy!

The same is true here in Pennsylvania - not much happening anywhere.

My first quarter has been TERRIBLE.

Sam Patania, Tucson


I thought this was a local (Michigan) issue, and sorry to hear it is
that far-reaching. The auto industry is in a downward spiral that
impacts most all the residents of our state. Days go by with only the
occasional battery replacement or sizing, and a daily break-even
sales figure has become a distant memory. I am adding personal funds
weekly to keep things going, and wondering how much longer I can keep
it up.

Jon Michael Fuja

Here in North Central Indiana, business has been exceptionally good,
but regular sales reps that come in say that things are pretty slow
almost everywhere they go. There are even reps coming in that I don’t
normally buy from, and that usually means their normal business isn’t
there, so they are out prospecting, trying to find some action
anywhere they can get it.

Ed in Kokomo

The shop I work from had been dead as a doornail for several weeks,
and I (I operate an independent repair business within the store) am
having some of the worst weeks I can remember. My business has been
in a more or less steady decline for 2 years now. Most of our
clientele are blue collar mill types, and the mills are shutting down
one by one. Those who aren’t out of work are heavily effected by
rising gasoline and heating oil prices. We are in western North
Carolina, and ‘enjoy’ some of the highest petroleum prices in the


Is it ever going to end?


Is it ever going to end? 

So what are you all doing about it? Since the consensus seems to be
consistent with my good friend Ron’s account about sales being off,
what are you all doing to make them better???

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

Hmmm…all of these posts are reflecting what I saw at the recent
wholesale shows on the east coast. Store after store looking but not
buying, or buying only a very few pieces. Yikes! Many galleries from
very different parts of the country told me that they were “dying
like dogs”. This does not bode well. On the other hand, one well
known jeweler near me, had $80,000 days, so at least someone is
doing something right. Gives me hope.

Lisa, (Off to Phoenix on Monday morning. Back from Phoenix Monday
night. Family business. I am not amused…Oh…Duchess is better,:slight_smile:
thanks for the good wishes) Topanga, CA USA

Hi All;

My business increased by 78% from 2004 to 2005, then from 2005 to
now, another 57% so far. But this is due mostly to my having
increased my client base. Some of my retailers have slowed down a
bit, some have stayed the same. There is one who seemed to have
positioned himself well, and his business has increased. I have a
client who does roadshows selling estate jewelry, and his sales have
gone down for the most part. But it’s less small items for him and
more large ones.

I’m a wholesale trade shop owner. It seems the stuff that requires a
high skill set is filtering up to guys like myself. I do the stuff
other jewelers either won’t or can’t do. I also act as a long
distance “in house” consultant, and the clients I have that want my
advise do well. But unfortunately, many don’t want to defer to my
opinions. I offer them all the same set of tools, so I get to see the
results of the degree to which they follow my advice.

I anticipated this kind of shake out years ago, so I positioned
myself where I thought there was limited competition. The focus, as I
foresaw it, needed to shift from inventory to service, but inventory
also had to move towards a product that wasn’t a commodity where the
competition could undercut the retailer. Jewelry retailers have been
"competing down", and the chickens have come home to roost. Diamonds
became universally graded and certified, hence, low overhead sellers
took that market. “Branded” designers got greedy and opened their own
retail. Look for your favorite wholesale vendor, now a publicly
traded company, to move into retail and online sales, or to team up
with a big box or internet seller and then you can chuck that
findings catalog and mountings book in the trash.

Better hone up on your skills, you’ll need to be able to do what
only 10% of us can do, custom made jewelry, quick, affordable repair,
and all in house manufactured, distinctively unique inventory. If you
can’t do this yourself, then you need someone like me on your team.
That is an expensive hire and worth it if you have enough business,
which most don’t. So I sell the idea of “use it only when you need
it, and pay accordingly”. That’s my business.

Forget that nonsense about “branding yourself” and make yourself a
prominent personality in the community. The new, survivable paradigm
is the artist/businessman/businesswoman, a local creative phenomenon
who invites the customer seeking the participatory buying experience.
Keep the cappuccino machine fired up, a tray of biscotti on the
coffee table between the easy chairs, and get a cat for customers to
pet (get a hepafilter for the allergy plagued), and some toys in a
box in the corner. Nobody should be able to find anything like your
work anywhere else, and allow them to see some actual jewelry making
going on. The pricing structure will be completely in the context of
your store, nobody will be able to “shop” you. People will look for
excuses to come to your store.

But, if someone looks at your inventory and says (or even thinks),
“I can get that on the internet for $ less”, or “Joe down the street
will beat that price”, then you are old school and you are toast. You
need to understand how to pay attention to the competition and ignore
them at the same time. Save this post and re-read it in 5 years,
that’s about how long it’s always taken for my “prophesies” to come
true, meanwhile, most people think I’m just a blow hard. I am a blow
hard, but I’m right.

David L. Huffman

All of our dealers are moaning about low sales as well. During the
Christmas season I knew that there were stil thousands of homes with
blue tarps on their roofs owing to the damage from Hurricane Wilma,
and that the bulk of them had yet to be visited by an insurance
adjuster, much less received a claim settlement. I knew that luxury
goods were bottom priority in SoFL (South Florida) because of this
and, according to the news reports this week, there are still around
6,000 homeless families in Miami-Dade County alone. Broward County
was hit harder, but I haven’t heard any figures lately.

Still, we’ve heard and read reports of flagging sales across the
country all this time, but hadn’t realized it was this bad all over.
Even though precious metal prices have been rising, the Market has
been strong, so let’s hope the pall lets up soon!

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL


Yes, I agree.

We work mainly with US and UK. And, our buyers say the same thing.
Essentially, they said that the demand during Christmas was quite
depressing and they have unsold stocks. They would like to either
sell off these stocks or re-work them into new styles before ordering
fresh goods.

As you know, Mumbai, India, is a large jewelry manufacturing center.
There are a lot of factories here that are geared towards exports.
And, most of them have very little or no work.

I read somewhere that the growth in the US economy was considerably
less in the last quarter after good growth for at least 3 preceding
quarters. Supposedly, that is the reason for the slow down in

In contrast, India’s economy is doing well. Therefore, there is
demand from local buyers but very little from abroad.

Rasesh Chasmawala.
Mumbai, India.

Gosh, I hate to think about what the down gallery business means for
the show circuit. My first show is coming up next month - maybe I
should start designing some $15 earrings!!! (YUK). My booth is
already starting to look similar to the Walmart jewelry counter and
I don’t think I can stoop any lower. Can anyone report on how their
shows have gone this early in the season?? I just don’t get it - the
news keeps boasting about how ‘great’ the economy is - if so, why
isn’t anybody buying anything. I wish some of those folks in
Washington could read these posts–because I never feel like I am
part of the poll or economic index!!!


As a post script to my original letter I am happy to announce that
yesterday was actually a great day…good sales all day long ! On
the downside, I don’t expect to be able to make up for all the
terrible days that preceded it, just as G.M. will certainly not
recoup the 10.6 billion that it lost last year. G.M. is bailing out
by selling off capital investments and subsidiary assets. I’ve got
a ton of rocks to sell…anyone interested ?

Ron Mills, Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.

Is it ever going to end? 

Hopefully in late 2008 / early 2009 here in the States.


Is it ever going to end? 

Well, it is tax time and that does put a crimp in peoples disposable
cash, not to mention the high price of gasoline.

We have experienced it in Texas and at shows we’ve done in New
Mexico and Colorado for the last 2 years or so. People look,
compliment, praise the price, thank you and leave. All the business
owner friends of mine are having a very hard time. Also a customer of
mine, in an unrelated field, who does wholesale shows says that at
their last show they had 1/3 of the buyers register as compared to
past shows.

I know part of the problem is fear–terrorists? war? your political
party being out of power? But I have wondered if people are
collectively finally so over-extended on their credit cards?

The really confusing thing, too, is that economic indicators
(including total sales tax receipts) seem to be generally up.

J. S. Ellington

Hello, everybody,

In Texas, we actually seem to be picking up- I’ve been lucky to have
good sales. I’ve actually been “upgrading” my stock; less silver,
more gold, higher end- I need a higher return on my time since we
added a baby to the toddler :slight_smile:

This too, will pass - it has got to get better everywhere.