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Capital Offensive


#1

My fellow metalsmiths,

In Last March’s JCK there is an article called "Capital Offensive"
that has me really ticked off.

It turns out that JA or Jewelers of America and their lobbying arm,
called JAPAC, are pressuring our lawmakers to keep US Armed Forces
PXs from selling gold jewelry. JA says that it will put undue
pressure on jewelry stores near military bases.

What?! Do those “Suits” have any clue about sacrifice or duty to
something bigger than their wallets?

I’m no big fan of war or our current leaders, however, our GIs live
and work in conditions that most people would never tolerate. They
put their lives on the line for our freedom to speak, work and
worship in our own ways. They get paid pitiful wages. All while a
bunch of heavily armed and highly trained guys are trying to kill
them. I think that giving them a price break at a PX is the least we
as citizens can do. It’s not like the average GI can afford to shop
at a fancy retail jewelry store.

I’d like to encourage you all to make your feelings known to the
Jewelers Of America.

Their web site is www.jewelers.org. Their email is info@jewelers.org.
After all there are more important things in life besides money. So
for my part I’m willing to offer lower prices to GI’s who are
currently serving. I’m talking enlisted GIs here. Not officers. Many
tattoo shops offer at least a 10% discount for active duty GIs. What
do you all think is an acceptable discount for active duty military
personnel?

Jo
www.timothywgreen.com


#2

Jo,

Well, I can see both sides of this issue, I guess, both by being a
jeweler and having military in my family. If the surrounding jewelry
stores are willing to offer a military discount, then why should the
PX carry competing merchandise? But also, what is the likelihood that
the PX is going to carry the QUALITY or variety of merchandise that
would be offered by an independent jewelry store?

To my eye, it’s appropriate to offer a military discount… but why
on earth would you discriminate between non-com and officers? Both
are paid relatively little (especially compared to private sector
positions), have working environments that can be hellish, and are at
the mercy of the choices made by the government in terms of where
they will live/work/raise their children. Just because someone came
into the service via ROTC as an officer doesn’t mean they’re getting
paid scads of money! These officers sometimes are making a lot less
than the career non-com who has been in for 26 years. So if the
argument is an economic one, that doesn’t hold up.

Anyway, I think it’s appropriate to offer between 10-20% (depending
on the piece) for active duty and reserve military, with ID.

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry


#3

This one raised my hackles–I am a military veteran (and my husband
retired veteran), and I can remember the day when it was common
practice to give soldiers and their families a 10-15% discount
(80’s-90’s). In the late 90’s, I noticed all of a sudden that trend
died. I’m tickled when I run across a business that gives a discount.

Periodically someone tries to change what is available to soldiers
through the PX. Why people feel they need to determine what a
servicemember is entitled to purchase, I have no clue. I will be
contacting JA and letting them know what a travesty it is. Even when
it is not a time of war, our troops are deployed for “humanitarian
peacekeeping missions” (e.g. Somalia, Haiti). They live in foreign
countries, and are subject to the economic environment in which they
reside: that can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing.
Currently, it’s not such a good thing.

Our troops deserve a small percentage break whenever they can get
it. No big corporate entity should have the ability to determine the
purchasing power of these deserving servicemembers.

Miachelle DePiano


#4

I’m not one to often write to the list but I’m officially appalled
that such a thing would even be considered much less that JA would
support it.

It’s not like competing with the PX is all that difficult. Many of
those same jewelers in the neighborhood could do it just fine if they
wanted to. If they can’t, or won’t make a better offer, let em
find other work. That’s the way business is supposed to work whether
there’s a military base involved or not. What about those poor
off-base liquor store owners or the people selling cigarettes down
the street? How come they don’t get a law protecting them from
competing with the PX? For them the competition is much more real.

The only real advantages the PX has for jewelry shoppers is that they
don’t collect local sales taxes and they have convenient on base
locations for servicepeople to shop at during their decidedly busy
schedules. Neither of these advantages is about jewelry and, if
exempting the base from sales tax is deemed to be a hardship on the
local economy, then they should start paying taxes, not try to blame
it on the jewelers.

The PX still has to buy their goods from the same places everyone
else gets them, they still pay their staff and they still pay for
their bloated distribution channel. Anyone who wants to can sell
jewelry, they can choose their products and set their prices however
they like and anyone who wants to can offer a military discount
either for patriotic reasons or simply because they think it’ll bring
in more customers. It just doesn’t matter.

If the service members can find better deals, better products or a
better shopping experiences elsewhere, let THEM make that decision.

The competition will make for better stores, a better BX and the
winners will be our soldiers and airmen. This sort of nonsense both
undervalues the intelligence of our military personnel and the savvy
of local (and Internet) merchants everywhere. Lawmakers should stay
out of it.

Neil Beaty


#5

Dear Jo,

You are awesome. We all need to start caring about each other more
no matter what differences of opinions we have. Thank you for the
and for being a great example for us all.

My best to you, Marta Irvin


#6

Hi

As a veteran of the USAF (active duty 9/86-9/90)…

The media would very much like the public to believe that our
Nation’s military lives in poverty stricken conditions, however, I
can honestly (from experience) say that this just is not true. Sure,
it was no walk in the park, but I was never starving and, really, I’m
the one who signed the contract. Not everyone in the military is
stationed in Iraq. Not everyone goes to war. My wages were never ever
close to pitiful considering the fact that the government gave me
housing, food, health care, and tuition. So anyway…

“I’m talking enlisted GI’s here. Not officers”…I’m curious about
this statement. What is wrong with officers? I was not an officer,
but I really didn’t have anything against them…

I have shopped in the PX before. I have bought my food in the
Commissary. It was ordinary. My thinking on the issue is that the
kind of jewelry one might find in the PX would be the same as (and
the same price as) that found in Walmart. Do jewelers these days
actually attempt to compete with these kinds of jewelry stores
anyway? Do our military members really need Walmart quality? Would
they buy Walmart quality? I certainly wouldn’t and I didn’t.

I think it is honorable that you would like to extend discounts to
active duty members. It’s really nice.

I just am a little offended that the public is led to believe that
military members are treated somewhat like dirt. It was good and
honorable part of my life. I learned. I traveled. I put myself
through college. I am very, very proud to have served. I would like
the media to also mention the good things that come out of military
service…strength of character, conviction, discipline, and honor.

Kim Starbard
Unique Jewelry Designs
http://www.kimstarbarddesigns.com


#7

I have a question: Suppose JAPAC is successful in pressuring the
Armed Forces Exchange to stop selling diamond jewelry of 1 ct plus.
Will JAPAC go after the Costco’s, the Sam’s Clubs, the BJ’s,
Walmarts…where does it end? I think it’s ridiculous that JAPAC
thinks one entity is hurting the small business owner, when there
are so many other competitive entities doing the same thing. JAPAC
just believes that because the Armed Forces Exchange can be directed
by Congress, it’s an easy way to eliminate one aspect of competition.
I don’t support that tactic/ideology.

Miachelle DePiano


#8

As a veteran this one raises my hackles as well. I give a military
discount partly because I believe those that serve us deserve a
measure of thanks from the ones they are serving and partly because
I remember how little money I received while serving. It is somewhat
better now but still not great.

But the thing that really p&^ me off is I remember the stores outside
the gates of the base that had crappy overpriced merchandise and used
every underhanded sales tactic to sell stuff to these young often
very naive men and women. This sounds to me like the merchants
wanting to limit the choices and control the prices these service
people will have to pay for jewelry. Shame on JA and the stores
pushing this.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#9

when ever posible i try to give a service person a break. rush
service discounted service. it’s my opinion that service people are
asked to risk there lives or support those who do so they deserve a
breAk just as if they just saved my life because maybe some day they
will or maybe they did and can’t talk about it because of security
reasons. kind of paying it forward.

Thanks for your service!

Robert L. Martin
Goldsmith/Platinumsmith
Diamond Setter
since 1976


#10
when ever posible i try to give a service person a break. rush
service discounted service. it's my opinion that service people
are asked to risk there lives or support those who do so they
deserve a breAk just as if they just saved my life because maybe
some day they will or maybe they did and can't talk about it
because of security reasons. kind of paying it forward. 

I have absolutely nothing against our soldiers, but by this logic
you should be extending breaks to doctors, nurses, police officers,
firemen, ambulance drivers, and quite possibly all of those normal
people who might someday be in a position to save your life just by
being at the right place at the right time. That pretty much includes
everyone.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambrige, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#11

Jewelers of America would like to respond comments posted regarding
an article in JCK magazine on Jewelers of America’s legislative
efforts. We appreciate the opportunity the Orchid forum provides to
clear up any misconceptions or misunderstanding.

At the outset, let us be clear that Jewelers of America is
absolutely not “pressuring our lawmakers to keep US Armed Forces PXs
from selling gold jewelry.” JA has never proposed such an idea, nor
would we ever support legislation or regulations to accomplish this.
Rather, JA has sought to maintain the system that has been in place
for many years; currently, PX stores are allowed to sell diamonds up
to one carat. Last year, Jewelers of America asked Congress to
maintain this status quo. To date, Congress has not acted on the
issue and we have no timetable on whether they intend to do so in
the future.

The board of directors of Jewelers of America, the membership and the
staff have the highest respect for the men and women who serve in the
US military. Our stand on the military exchange issue in no way
diminishes our respect for the members of our armed forces.

I hope this clarifies our stance on this issue,

David Lafleur
Vice President
Jewelers of America


#12
doctors, nurses, police officers, firemen, ambulance drivers, and
quite possibly all of those normal people who might someday be in a
position to save your life just by being at the right place at the
right time. That pretty much includes everyone. 

yes they all could qualify, BUT they all don’t sign and take an oath
to go to war if neccesary to protect our freedoms. police and
fireman do put there lives on the line and i would extend the
discount to them as well. i would also extend it to any true hero,
service personel (millitary,police,fire and resque) all know there
is a greater chance they could die just by showing up for work. I
for one think that deservse a break, and not just anyone would make
that comitment. It takes a special kind of person to do what they
do.

Thanks Again For Your Service, I cant say it enough!

Robert L. Martin
Goldsmith/Platinumsmith
Diamond Setter


#13

I’m for extending discounts, as a thank you to our military, for
protecting our collective freedoms, given to us by our founding
fathers in the form of the Constitution.

Protecting our liberty and the pursuit of happiness generally do not
come under the job description of doctors, nurses, firemen, EMT’s.
Police officers, maybe.

I am grateful each and every day that I can do what I want, when I
want (w/in the law) because of a few great men/women w/ foresight and
courage. And many who have fought and died for freedom.

Gratitude has nothing to do with logic. It’s an emotion.

Kay Taylor


#14

Dear David- Why does JA want to restrict larger diamond sales to
GIs?

Our stand on the military exchange issue in no way diminishes our
respect for the members of our armed forces. 

Telling our GIs that they don’t deserve the opportunity to buy a
diamond larger than a carat sounds pretty un-respectful and frankly
kinda elitist to me. If you are OK with other jewelry sales, why
specifically do you not want GIs to be able to buy larger diamonds at
BXs? "Oh, you all can have hamburger, but you don’t deserve steak?"
I’m willing to give them a break. I don’t care if it’s a big sale or
a small one. So just who is trying to get larger diamond sales into
BXS that scares you guys so much?

Thanks- Jo


#15

David,

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

Could you clarify why JA views the PX selling diamonds over 1 carat
more of a threat to small business owners than other venues of
wholesale merchandise (e.g. Costco)? Have you considered that the
effect isn’t just stateside, but that it affects people (thousands)
who live overseas?

It’s unfortunate that your publication which spelled out your lobby
on Congress didn’t provide enough background…but conversely, it
still bothers me as a consumer, a voter, and a veteran that because
one aspect of a competitive market can be directed by Congress,
pressure is being applied to do so. In today’s market, there are so
many venues to purchase a deal on diamonds (in comparison to the
physical jewelry store), it just appears that you are picking on one
small part of the market.

Thank you,
Miachelle