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Where are the buyers today?


#1

I would like to start a new thread please! In today’s “recession”
(personally, I’m inclined to think depression), I’m wondering where
folks are finding ongoing, strong, viable markets, where they are
finding past markets no longer working, and if anyone has found new
markets that are promising? While I’m more interested in
generalities, mention of specific shows might also be helpful.

I’m in SC in the South of the US, and the economy here tanked after
9/11 and has never come back. Empty factories, businesses,
foreclosed homes everywhere. Galleries that have carried, and sold,
my work for years are closing, or stopping carrying jewelry.

I’m attempting to identify new ways to market my work, and the work
of some international jewelry artists that I rep.

Are you finding wholesale stronger than direct retail? Custom? Are
wholesale shows worth it given the constantly rising booth fees for
the big ones?

Thanks!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#2

I must tell everyone who is reading this “reply” read and learn! Get
your mind and creativity “out of the darned proverbial box”. Advance
yourself and look up and around. Don’t let your mind be totally
consumed with this ®ecession. The world is still out there, and
aim high.

There are still the 2% of the world looking for some investment
items. Don’t be submerged with the simple "one - of - thousand"
items. These 2% of the population want originality. They want
quality, they want to put their money into GOLD and Diamonds. Not
little items that are seen in the big box stores, you know who and
what they are.

Be original, be exclusive, tell them you “ARE THE BEST” Get your
pictures professionally made. Pick two items and promote yourself.

Let your heart feel that you created a “one-of-a-kind” item! I have
done this! I did this recently and I have so far made 3 versions of
this item.

I will aim high so that these 2% or the ultra high income folks will
see this creation. The advertising folks want it in their magazine
now, or a.s.a.p. I can’t say what it is (yet)! but the starting
price is $19,500.00 and final version is at $50,000.00 with over
22.50 carats of high quality diamonds!

Some years ago a local Toronto craftsman made statue of two people
embarrassing each other. He made it out of solid gold. He sold it for
$1.3 million. Do you think he was thinking of any recession? A fellow
reader on Orchid knows what I am talking about, and everything is
possible.

I can’t wait for the day when I can show some of my nay-sayers and
tell them “everything is possible”. I always say, I’m not the small
minded jeweller who is wondering where the next few dollars will come
from.

In Toronto 3 months ago, a local construction company built a
28-story condo. One of his creations had 3 floors to it. It was
bought while still being built by a fellow and paid $28 million for
it. He had two more similar condos around the world. The “money” is
out there, open your eyes and lift up your glasses and search them
out. If you don’t, they won’t know you are. Make your first sample
for picture taking out of brass and gold-plate it. Use "photo-shop"
and pick one of the best photo’s, get out there and flaunt it!

Without even trying, I have 5 international sales-reps who are
anxious to sell for me. All it takes is “Chutzpah”, or raw nerve to
get yourself known…and a bit of being at the right place and at the
right time.

I have no idea what this recession is!! Get my drift? Do you think
that the condo-owner is concerned with this recession? He’s paying
$50,000 a month for maintenance and under-ground parking. Aim for
those people!!!.

Gerry!


#3

This will be a real downer, so unless you are prepared for a sad
saga, delete now. Perhaps I am overly pessimistic as I just got back
from a 2 day show which was really dismal. It was a mixed media show,
well advertised, well organized, but very few people came, and those
who did just roamed arounda bit, visited with their friends and
barely looked at the work being offered.

The show was a juried/invitational, and all of the work was
excellent–wonderful paintings, pottery, sculpture, superb glass and
of course jewelry. There were just three jewelers, 2 offering silver
and gold, and one who had beautiful woven beaded jewelry–they were
real works of art. She had one sale.

Being prepared for the fact that the economy is down, I had included
a number of lower priced items (sterling earrings, set with garnets,
amethysts, small opals, carnelians, etc, and priced between $39, and
$75.) Three of the $39 ones sold. The others were admired, but,
passed over. I was really surprised as this show had excellent sales
last year, but not this year.

I guess I should not have been too surprised as 5 of the galleries
which regularly showed my work have now closed. So, I too, will be
following this thread with interest. Hopefully some people will have
some good news to share.

Alma


#4

Beth- I’ve been through this before. When the times get hard only
the very rich and the very poor still buy jewelry at their respective
price points. Every one else is try just to pay down their debt, keep
their kids fed, and stay afloat.

The internet and the economic realities have changed the whole
business model for the jewelry industry.

Custom is the new “Brand”. The really wealthy don’t want something
that they see everyone else wearing. These customers want very high
quality craftsmanship and innovative design in precious metals and
fine You won’t find them at craft shows. They also don’t
like to pay retail. “Wow! that’s beautiful. Where’d you get that?”
“Oh, I’ve got this private shop. They do only the best and don’t do
it for just anyone.”

At the other end of the spectrum are the lower income earners. They
want the look of bling without the cost. Lots of silver with CZs,
both white and colored. I’ve been know to own and wear some myself.
It’s big, it’s fun and affordable. It’s also a lot of work. You have
to make and sell a truck load. But it’s big fun to design and build
without having to worry about the cost of materials so much. We have
a couple of students who regularly sell their big silver and
inexpensive colored stone pieces. We have another former student who
bangs out simple copper earrings out of scrap copper wire from
electrical projects and sells them all day for under 20 bucks.

There is still money to be made out there. Just not like before.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#5

Beth,

I agree. I am in NC, and the economy is bad all over. I do watch and
clock repair and at one time I kept 5-6 people busy. Now I am down
to 1. My work is not local, but now I am taking in local work when it
comes. It’s a big drop of income, but I think that things are slowly
coming back. I also trade in Hammond Organs, and their value is
rising back to where it should be.

Thanks!!!
Dennis K.
dialrepair.com


#6
I would like to start a new thread please! In today's "recession"
(personally, I'm inclined to think depression), I'm wondering
where folks are finding ongoing, strong, viable markets, where they
are finding past markets no longer working, and if anyone has found
new markets that are promising? 

This is a difficult subject because very few actually want to hear
the truth.

We actually have quite thriving economy, but a significant part of
the population was left out of it, and that skews some averages.

The segment of the population who can afford jewellery started to
loose interest in it. And it is our fault. Most work is simply not
compelling.

Engagement rings are going strong because there are no options. One
has to buy it or else. As far as other types of jewellery, there are
simply very few really interesting pieces.

Some would say that raise in gold prices is responsible for the
decline. My answer is a hog wash. I am in New York, and here more
dinners are sold in restaurants with price tag of 1000 and up, than
equally priced jewellery. And why is that? What makes people spend on
something as fleeting as food, and reject purchase of something
permanent.

The answer is obvious, but very difficult to accept. People love to
spend in restaurants, but hate to do it in jewellery stores. People
look at a chef as a magician. A person of unimaginable talent and
skills. Do the image of goldsmith evokes the same response?
Absolutely not! Ask someone you know to name 10 famous chefs. Very
few would have difficulty with it. Ask for 10 famous goldsmith and
you get blank stare.

A lot of jewelers do not have required skill set and they are
shameless about it. They proudly talk about lasers, casting, and
other gadgets de jour. What they fail to realize is that push-button
manufacturing is not inspiring. There are no mystery to it, so nobody
wants it.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#7

Hi Beth

I speak to a lot of jewelers and surprisingly MANY are having a
great year!

Candidly many are:

  1. Having a great overall year
  2. Increased product sales
  3. Increased shop sales
  4. Better cash flow

and much of it is dues to BUYING GOLD FROM CUSTOMERS

Many jewelers would be closed up if it wasn’t for that.

But…

  1. Bridal is still strong. if off, maybe down 8-10% if average
    dollar sales but people still get married.

  2. Average product sale from the case is down maybe 50%. If average
    sale sued to be $500, its less than $250. Lots of reasons for that

a. You can’t buy nice jewelry today for $500 as gold would make that
same thing that used to sell for $500 now $900-$1400. people aren’t
buying it. This is fashion with lots of metal. To buy a pair of
diamond studs hasn’t been affected by gold price much, the mounting
is nothing compared to the diamond costs.

b. People are indeed being careful with their money.

c. There are fewer employed people to buy.

  1. Custom design is still doing very well. Even with metal being
    higher.

I understand that sales are off since 9/11 but that’s not typical.
Those doing well NOW have NEVER given up on advertising.

Every city where someone might say “Business Stinks”, others are
doing well.

I deal mostly with retailers but wholesalers who are selling the
price points that are selling are doing well and believe it or not
the people EMPLOYED in the USA are buying jewelry, just different
types and price points. Women buy

jewelry
clothes
shoes
belts
accessories

If you’re “wholesale”, you just might need to get on the road and go
door to door to stores/galleries outside of your state and get your
stuff into hands of others because others are still doing well.

David Geller
www.JewelerProfit.com


#8

What recession? We’re up 34% year-to-date over last year, with
profitability also up substantially (58.7% gross margin since Oct
’10). Our number of tickets is up over 30% and our average ticket is
up to slightly over $385. Our main problem right now is that we
can’t keep up with all of the work.

We do no marketing or advertising, only word of mouth and our
website. What we do differently is to really, really take care of our
customers. Everyone says they provide the “best” customer service but
very few really do, or even know what the term really means. When I
hear some of the comments I’ve heard, even on threads on Orchid
about how people talk to and about their customers and the
adversarial bent so many seem have developed towards them, I realize
what a wide open world this is for those that are willing to give
their best to their customers and treat them like royalty.

One thing that never goes out of style and needs not ever be
affected by the economy is customer service. Leonid posted comparing
restaurants and chefs to jewelry stores and goldsmiths. While I don’t
agree with his general premise that the reason sales seem to be off
is because there are no decent goldsmiths or jewelry left, he raises
a very valid point about the public’s valuation of a fine dining
experience versus the purchase of a piece of jewelry. In my opinion,
the reason is as simple as the high-end restaurant providing the very
finest customer service and paying attention to every detail of the
customer’s experience, from parking the car to driving away. A group
of four walking away from a thousand dollar meal will very likely be
smiling and very happy. They paid for not just a good meal, but for
an experience and if the restaurant has been or will be around for a
while, they got more than a decent meal, they got an experience worth
remembering.

A jewelry seller must provide an equally enjoyable and memorable
experience. Without it, they are only selling jewelry. People can buy
jewelry anywhere and probably for less money regardless of the
jeweler’s pricing structure. So obviously, price is not the sole
determining factor whether a potential customer shells out their cash
to you or someone else (maybe even a fine restaurant). The key to
dismissing this current recession on an individual goldsmith’s basis
is to provide a wonderful experience, start to finish, for every
single person you work with. You can’t do that if you hold your
customers, clients or their jewelry in contempt, or are constantly
looking for ways to prevent them from ripping you off. The only way
to do it is to put their needs, wants and desires ahead of your own.

This isn’t rocket science. But it is the bedrock secret to success
for virtually any successful retail business, regardless of what is
being sold. Want to ignore the recession? Create an experience so
good that it makes your customers ignore it, or like fine restaurants
do, helps them to forget about it for at least a little while. If you
do this business at the wholesale level, do everything you can to
help your clients create that kind of experience for their customers.
As a minimum, don’t do things that might prevent your clients from
being able to provide exceptional service to their customers.

Dave Phelps


#9
Perhaps I am overly pessimistic as I just got back from a 2 day
show which was really dismal. It was a mixed media show, well
advertised, well organized, but very few people came, and those who
did just roamed arounda bit, visited with their friends and barely
looked at the work being offered. 

Yes, the market is correcting.
Diversify!


#10

After being in the business for over 40 years I have see the ups an
downs… I have also learned to look at other markets for sales… To
give a example I just recently got a order from a police department
to design a ring for them… $150,000 profit in the end… If you want
to survive in a recession you need to think out of the box… repairs
pay the bills in a retail store… redesigning pays your dinners
out… finding new markets pays your vacations…

In todays market those who market to the 2 % high end are doing well
as always. You need to be bold and step out of your comfort zone to
make it big…

As far as advertising is concerned… small ads with a person’s face
on it sells more then a picture of a piece of jewelry… Take this
test… pick up you news paper and scan through it… see where your
eye stops… the use that info for your advertising… small adds
placed every week are more effective then one large add every
month… Lessons learned the hard way… Hope it helps you… Craft
shows are good for pr but never good for sales has been my lesson…
I did a craft show invitational only many years ago when I was
starving… and did no sales at all.I was bummed out… fees to enter
etc… no sales… I am a Internationally known jeweler… was
bummed out… 4 months later I had a gentleman walk into my shop and
he told me he saw my work there as did his wife and he wanted
something special for her… the sale was in the 6 figures… You never
know what will pay off… my advice is to just keep putting your face
out there and pray a lot…

Vernon Wilson


#11

Hello Beth

Here in Italy we have been through a year surviving on the profits
that one can make (not much if you are honest) buying back gold and
silver. Lots of people were selling. And doing repair work.

Now we are into the phase that people that have old, used, broken
gold items, and don’t need the money to make a payment, see how
valuable the gold is and are willing to pay workmanship to make a
new item that they like and would like to wear.Repair work
continues. And custom work.

Lois


#12

Where are the buyers? I have done several shows this year most of
them I have done in the past years so I have a comparison. ( I was
not around yet when shows were really successful, say 12 years ago.)
Overall I could label my shows this year as ‘Ghost Town.’ Attendance
has been way down and buyers very cautious or not interested at all
in purchasing. At my largest show which has about 70,000 in
attendance (not this year) I did ok but when I went through all my
sales slips almost every slip was a 35$ pair of earrings (or two pair

  • gift for a sister) which I make as a token item and have a box of
    them. My one of kind items are priced from 285-1000$ and three years
    ago I would sell out…I am lucky to sell one of those pieces at a
    show.

On the upside: I am in only one Gallery. They have done well for me
this summer and sometimes I can’t keep up to their demand - but it’s
a summer tourism spot and that will slow down now. I am the only
jeweler left in that Gallery that makes jewelry from precious metals
and they use to have 6 or 8 jewelers showcased. I think that is why
my sales there have done well because I have the only jewelry there
that is precious metals and some people (myself included) won’t buy
costume jewelry. The Gallery owners said the other jewelers could
not wholesale price their jewelry to sell in a Gallery any longer
because of the cost of metal. Now all of the jewelers remaining in
that Gallery (except myself) make jewelry from found objects,
stainless steel, aluminum, etc…nothing wrong with that but in
that Gallery never thought I would see the day…I did read an
article that Art shows are trending down because people shop on-line
on venues like Etsy. Why struggle through a crowd ad parking and heat
when you can sit at home with your dog in your lap and shop on-line?
I like Art shows and like doing them so I hope they don’t vanish. I
do have an Etsy shop and it has always done ‘ok’ and still is doing
’ok.'My repair work has never slowed down - not even a little bit:
Bread and Butter.The classes I teach are full. People in the classes
have stated 'I am not working as much and have time to do this and I
use to do it in High School and just never had time to continue it. I
use to love it.‘The only thing I can figure is I am not going to quit
making things from the beautiful metals I love. I don’t turn any work
or opportunity down unless I really can not do it or it cannot be
done. I just say ‘Yes, I can do that for you.’ I no longer go into an
Art show assuming anything. It seems no longer predictable. Keep on
Keepin’ on…Make Beautiful things from Beautiful things…it
will turn around…people have adorned themselves for thousands of
years with precious metals. Those people are not going to switch to
plastic and base metals. We just have to change with the changes and
our customers need time to restructure their pocketbooks. to all -
happy making

joy kruse


#13

Remember these two words “re-invent yourself” With your skills and
abilities, you’ll be miles ahead of the others. After all of these
clouds of doom and gloom, there will still be a sunny and bright day
ahead!

Gerry!


#14
Diversify! 

Specialize would be another option.


#15
This isn't rocket science. But it is the bedrock secret to success
for virtually any successful retail business, regardless of what
is being sold. Want to ignore the recession? Create an experience
so good that it makes your customers ignore it, or like fine
restaurants do, helps them to forget about it for at least a little
while. 

Simple, yet profound. No truer words spoken. CD


#16
You need to be bold and step out of your comfort zone to make it
big... 

Good Advice! I might also add the power of on-line reviews. Keep an
eye on them, encourage when possible and appropriate. They are
powerful, always on, and essentially free :slight_smile:

CD


#17

I stumbled onto something that worked for me. Some of you,
especially the high-enders, won’t be interested. I started in silver,
and to me silver is “high end.” The usual sales venue here is a once
a month art show on “the plaza.” I’m in Mexico. My first show I had
lots of “WOW! this is beautiful!” I sold one piece, a necklace. A
long term jeweler was back in town. She had moved back to the States,
the slow market her being one of the reasons. She said “funky sells
today.” I moved to copper and larger pieces in the $30.00 to $75.00
USD range. They sold. I sell about four per one day show. A woman I
did not know said you should “Talk to Agustin about selling at his
restaurant.” It didn’t make sense to me but I remembered about a year
ago our housing development sponsored a march at which time we all
made a donation to our local free clinic. The two thoughts clicked in
my brain and I went to see Agustin about doing a benefit sale for the
free clinic. I invited a silk scarf artist who sells in New York and
all over the world to join me. Agustin who put together a beautiful
buffet, the scarf designer and I all agreed to give 20% of our
proceeds to the free clinic. We used free email for publicity and
attracted 100 people. That was all the restaurant could serve. We
invited a couple of singers and a few models and planned it so
everyone would have a really fun time. I sold 29 pieces in two and a
half hours, the scarf designer equalled me, and the restaurant sold
100 meals. We’re pretty low-end here, but it was a huge success. I’m
wondering if some of you couldn’t adapt the idea. I could even see a
high end benefit for a hospital auxiliary up there. The people
literally lined up to buy. 20% of sales! That’s less than any of my
galleries take!


#18

I’m going to echo the previous posts that match my experience.

High end sales: Just got back word that an estimate I sent out for a
$25,000 necklace was accepted. This is all metal and labor. The
stones will be provided to me.

Wedding bands and engagement rings: You don’t have to be high end
here. I know several jewelers selling the heck out of
silver/platinum or silver/gold sterling alloys. People are still
getting married. In fact, a couple years ago I did a fund raiser for
the NC Gay Men’s Chorus. I’m still getting calls and sales from that
bit of outreach. Same sex couples can be very loyal when they know
you are supportive of them.

Selling experiences, not just jewelry: A couple I know wanted only
simple, plain wedding bands (even though they are a power couple
making nearly 7 figures). I told them to come over to my shop and
we’d make them together. She made his and he made hers. Turned a
small sale into a very nice one and gave the couple memories for a
lifetime. This was the third marriage for him and second for her. Any
guesses who will be selling engagement rings to their grown children?

Larry


#19

Hi

I am not in any way a conventional “jeweler” but I do like to make
jewelry :slight_smile: I left a while ago to return to the corporate world as an
accountant/financial analyst. Sometimes, if you have taken up more
than one skill, the best thing is to practice the more profitable one
for a while (especially if you have a family). Staying in corporate
for actually only a small amount of time, i left to open my own
business. As much as I had wanted it to be in jewelry, the economy
rules. Guess what though? I think I was wrong about the economy. In
my business, I sell 350 dollar personal training packages to people.
No kidding. I’m not saying in any way that our training is not
completely worth it (it’s actually under priced). I guess I’m saying
people have adorned themselves since the beginning of time. They’re
not about to stop. When I return, it will be with a line up (I’m
working out the designs now) where the pieces sell for between 195
and 375. the good news is, with all of the sales experience i have
now, i don’t think I will have any problem being confident about
making the sale! BTW, internet, internet, internet…that’s where I’m
going. Probably, by this time next year I will be a financial analyst
again, a successful owner of a personal training facility still, and
a part time ‘person who like to make jewelry’. I think someone else
had brought up diversification?


#20

Hi All. After a dismal string of shows in southern California, I
recently had the best show I’ve ever had, by a significant margin- in
northern California. I was shocked and delighted, since the rest of
my market has been a real suckfest this year. I can only explain it
by suggesting that people are hipper and doing better in the Bay Area
than in L.A. I wish I could clone them! The experience certainly
proved that there is hope for optimism.

Allan
silvermason.com