Things are slow – painfully slow. And to borrow a phrase from Dolly Parton in the movie “Steel Magnolias,” “I am so confused about what to do – I do not know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt.” The economy is terrible and people are scared. As I sit here wondering what to do to prepare for the Holidays, I cannot think of a year when so many people just dreaded the thought of the Holidays. With all this time on my hands I began to wonder – I know this can be dangerous, but I think I am on to something.
For most women Spring time is closely associated with spring cleaning. And I can personally attest to the fact that by the time I get the closets, cabinets, curtains and carpets cleaned, despite my best intention, the jewelry box and safes are never touched.
Each year I promise to inventory and document all my personal jewelry. I vow to organize the papers that through the year get shoved in the safe and each year I neglect to do so. I am not exactly sure why. Perhaps it’s because I am terrified to see how much jewelry has accumulated through my 23 years of marriage, or perhaps the bulk of papers, which are mostly legal documents that seem to me to be written in Greek, just intimidate me.
I will also timidly admit that my family is a family of surplus. Every winter you hear about the homeless freezing to death and every year I vow that I will clean out the coat closet and donate them. In the spring I clean out the closet and load the surplus in my trunk and drive around for 2 months with my surplus, looking for a place to unload. I eventually give up and drop everything off with a local organization. I kick myself because I really did not want the homeless to “pay” for my things – I wanted them to “have” them.
As my thoughts rolled on to the topic of my own personal gift giving this Holiday Season, I was interrupted by the phone. On the other end of the phone a young girl who wanted to know how much she could expect to get for her grandmother’s pearl strand. After hanging up the phone I had an epiphany that might increase business AND win me the “Best Gift Giver” award. Jewelry is unlike any other gift, it has a monetary value and an intrinsic value. In most cases that intrinsic value is truly “priceless.”
My epiphany is this… Why do I have to wait for spring to clean and organize, AND isn’t a gift that has some intrinsic value more valuable than a “Happy Holiday – I found this in the store and thought of you” gift? I also must ask, why did we stray away from the “Old Fashioned” Holidays where most gifts were hand-made or passed down family heirlooms? How backwards is it to drive around with coats in your trunk during the spring – why not in the winter? How crazy is it to change the linens on the bed and note that you have 11 blankets in the closet, slam the door and walk away? Why not pull them out, throw them in your trunk and ease the guilt you feel when passing a person shivering in the cold?
Call me cheap, Call me old fashioned or even a rebel, but I am changing the rules. I am not going to wait for spring to clean and we at J D Jewelers will celebrate an “OLD FASHIONED” Holiday. We will send out flyers encouraging our clients to pull out that old piece of jewelry, that old fur coat your sister or daughter has admired, or the blanket that grandma made and pass it on. We will remind them that the piece they might have out grown will make a niece VERY happy. We will celebrate the wisdom and warm heart of each client that walks through the door with a “pass it on” piece that needs our special touch. We will even offer to document the “intrinsic value” of the item on fine stationary that I am sure will add great value to the gift. We will not embarrass them or make them feel cheap; because we ourselves will be “passing things on” as well.
I realize that it will take several restringing, polishing and remounting jobs to make the mortgage, but it is also my belief that when the economy turns around – and it will – and things are good again, that people will return to my shop. I also have to believe that expecting your clients to spend more on their gift giving than you are willing to spend on yours is only setting yourself up for failure.
I will follow up and let you know how it goes and if your store does something similar I would love to hear about it.
Tammy L. Williams, Graduate Gemologist of GIA, also prizes her membership in AGTA. She is President of J D Jewelers, a salon private jewelry business located in Suwanee, Georgia and the Southeastern Rep for Global Diamonds. Tammy is very active as a speaker and authority on Gemstones and Diamonds. Whether in her laboratory at J D Jewelers, on the lecture circuit or writing about her experiences in business, her love and passion for gemstones becomes contagious. If you’d like to contact Tammy, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.