Ben Franklin said, "Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee."
This is where I place my hope for my future. Whatever awaits.
I’m responding as Neil is. As he pointed out, there were some during
the Depression that still had the means. Some of the most beautiful
jewelry ever made was created during the most trying financial times
in modern world history. This tells me two things. First, there will
always be the wealthy, and there will always be work for those that
can cater to their desires. The other thing I take away from that
time was also an observation made by Charles Darwin; only the fittest
will survive. Only those in the best position to cater to those
wealthy few, in quality of both design and craftsmanship will make it
through the worst, if that should ever occur.
As Neil also observed, debt will be the bane of those who succumb to
it. “Neither a lender nor a borrower be” is another Franklin adage I
try to live by. I do not extend credit to my customers. After all, if
the worst happens, who is going to be the first in line to be
forgotten? The Power Company or the jeweler that is owed for a
diamond wedding set? As to being a borrower, my guess is that a bank
will try to repossess my tools and inventory long before they put
people out of their homes to satisfy their investors and their bottom
lines. I certainly hope that would be their priority. I intend to
avoid that by not owing them anything.
One of the best hedges we in the jewelry industry have is that,
unlike clothiers or restaurateurs or any number of other livelihoods,
our inventory does not go out of style next season or spoil by next
week. Even if it does go out of style, it will never spoil. We can
always pull the stones out and melt down the metals if something
doesn’t sell and we need the money. Not too many other industries
have that kind of Ace in the Hole with their inventories.
There is another aspect of what we do that is horrible to
contemplate, but still somewhat comforting when considering a
terrible set of conditions. During the Holocaust, three occupations
that could save someone from the gas chambers were being a classical
musician, a seamstress or a goldsmith. Sobering, but true.