I think independent jewelers such as your selves do better, from my
experience talking to many personally, either in their own place or
in a small strip mall. That way you can set your own hours that are
more convenient to you. Also your rent is usually not so volatile.
These big companies forget that the little guys cannot afford to
relocate and redecorate. I think what you are doing is great so don't
let your business be dictated to by big business.
Another idea you might look into. A very dear friend of mine
(unfortunately he passed on a couple of years ago) was a Hindu man
from India. He did palmistry, Indian Astrology and numerology and
prescribed gemstones the old ways. Through him I sold quite a few
large size, 1-5ct., rubies, emeralds, sapphires, etc. that were lower
quality but set into 22kt yellow gold, mostly for the East Indian
community. Apparently for healing purposes people need 1ct or more
size stones. If you could find and work with such a wise person, you
both could profit from the exchange. I did and I did not even have a
store. I still keep a list of the Indian names for most of the stones
I carry as more Indian people are coming to the Markets I attend
Hope this year turns out to be the best yet!
Karen Bahr "the Rocklady" (@Rocklady)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
May your gems always sparkle.