Last updateWed, 25 Mar 2020 1pm

The Retailer’s Perspective: To prep or not to prep? That’s not even really a question

You know, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t it seems. Well, in actuality, I guess it’s more like you’re damned if you don’t. What I’m talking about is prepping for the upcoming Christmas season.

I’m lucky because my business doesn’t really ‘live or die’ by the Christmas season. But, Christmas is a real ‘make it or break it’ time for a lot of jewelry businesses out there. I’ve always said that I work longer hours and make some extra money, while someone else out there makes ‘all-the-money’. You people know who you are! Yes, you, the one that is going to make all the money this Christmas. And, for the record, I secretly want to be you every December, and then go back to being me the other 11 months out of the year. Mainly, because I don’t want to deal with all those returns in January.

But, for the rest of us out here, this time of year can be very frustrating. This is supposed to be a happy time of year. Well, maybe happy after Thanksgiving, because some of you are not gonna have a very happy Thanksgiving after your behavior on social media during the last Presidential election. But fortunately, Christmas is right around the corner from that.

Running a jewelry store these days, happy seems to take a backseat to ‘extreme paranoia’ this time of year. There was a time, back in the day, when we could all guess, with a reasonable amount of certainty, what kind of Christmas season we were going to have. But that’s hard to do nowadays.

The last 10 years have thrown a couple of monkey wrenches into our plans. Firstly, the recession was an absolute game changer for all of us. During the recession, jobs were being cut by the thousands every single day across the country. People were NOT buying luxury goods. Someone once told me, “during a bad economy, luxury goods are the first to go, and last to recover.” That’s about as true a statement as I’ve ever heard. You combine people scared for their jobs, with the cost of our products going up 1,000% or so in less than a year, and it’s a recipe for disaster in any industry.

Secondly, during this 10 year period, the internet has made huge gains over brick and mortar. Hell, most of us brick and mortar people now buy the majority of our stuff over the internet too. It’s a vicious cycle that’s that not likely to reverse itself anytime soon.

All of this makes me wonder if I should even bother getting ready for the upcoming Christmas season? Why should I stock up on anything? Why should I spend any money for an event that may not happen? If I didn’t sell everything I bought for last Christmas, why should I buy more of it?

I think this year I’m going to boycott Christmas. This year I will buy nothing. I’m going in with the inventory I already have. I’m not buying any extra gift boxes. I’m not buying any of that cute new wrapping paper I saw in a catalog last month, and I’m not buying new decorations. And, I’m not adding any seasonal help. I’m just going to ignore all of it this year and see what happens. You know, I’m going to try reverse psychology on Ole Saint Nick!

Come on, everyone knows that if you wash your car today, it’s going to rain tomorrow. So why wash your car? What would happen if I just decided to ‘take a bye’ this year for Christmas and not do anything at all?  

Of course, I hope no one thinks that I’m really that stupid, but it is a pleasant thought to think about. No hassle, no stress, no money. Instead of lots of hassle, lots of stress, and some extra money. Of course, if I do decide to go through with this plan, then I’ll probably have the biggest Christmas season I’ve ever had in my career. If I ignore it, it will hit me like a ton of bricks. Hey wait, maybe I’m on to something.

There was a time when, in order for men to shop for jewelry, men had to drive from jewelry store to jewelry store and actually shop for jewelry. Our traffic counts were up because of this. You didn’t want to be their first stop; you wanted to be their third stop. Because three stores is about the limit that men can actually shop for jewelry. During this era, men knew that they needed to get started in early December, before the pickings were slim. So, you could tell what your season would be like because of the amount of traffic in your store.

Now, men shop on their phone at lunch for two weeks, make a decision, and then wait a couple of weeks. Then, in late December, they walk in, show you a pic on their phone, hand over their credit card, then go back to checking scores on their phone while you gift wrap their purchase, then they walk out. All in, about 4-7 minutes tops - on December 23rd. And, they all come in and do the same thing over the course of like 3 days, in late December. Thus proving that all of your worrying the entire month of December was for naught.

So, now I sit here and wonder what should I do this year? I’ve still got plenty of supplies from Christmases past that I haven’t used up yet. I’ve got Christmas decorations aplenty for my store. Why should I buy anything new if Christmas is going to be cancelled again this year?

Why, you ask? Because that’s just how we do it in the jewelry industry! We get up every day, get dressed, and come into work and move forward, one day, one month, and one Christmas season at a time. And as stressful and aggravating as Christmas can be in this business, it happens every year whether we want it to or not. And, since this will be my 40th Christmas in this business, it better not disappoint!

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.