Six new members added including 1st in Canada
(LOS ANGELES) – “It’s a record!” declared Leading Jewelers Guild President, Gene Thompson (of Thompson Jewelers, Orlando, FL), “our little group has grown over 20% so far this year!” Leading Jewelers Guild is a prestigious member-owned jewelry organization of independent retailers, now numbering 34, and representing 149 stores in 28 states and one Canadian province. “This is a very different year,” said Donald Ritchie the group’s Chairman, (of Harry Ritchie’s Jewelers, Eugene, OR), “family-owned retailers are looking to band together to survive challenging times.”
New associate members welcomed into Leading Jewelers Guild this year included Gary Fontana (Frank Jewelers of Freeport, IL), David and Dan O’Donnell (Chain Reaction Jewelers, Mesa, AZ), Todd Weber (Weber Jewelry & Gifts, Robinson, IL), Charles and Nicole Lasker (Lasker Jewelers, Eau Claire, WI), Reg and Rosemary Harden (Harden’s of Hawkesbury, Ontario, Canada), and Tyna Wheat and Sharon Sartore (Brooke Jewelry Shoppes/Rogers Jewelers, Evansville, IN). “The additional buying power and revenues, of course, are important,” said James “Jimmy” West, the group’s Executive Director, “but the brain-power and infusion of new ideas is huge! It’s not just about the benefits they will receive, we’re looking at the potential benefits they bring to the group.”
“It is hard for me to think of the right words to express how glad I am to be a member of a thinking group,” said Dan O’Donnell. “If there is anything that I have learned being in business for 27 years, it’s that if we are to survive the next five years and the next five after that, we must be willing to change and to grow in a direction that keeps our competitive edge. I am grateful to be able to discuss business openly with a group of other business owners that face similar challenges.”
New members (left to right) Erik Ringsrud, Nicole Lasker and Charles Lasker (Lasker Jewelers, Eau Claire, WI) help Leading Jewelers Guild celebrate their 50th Anniversary at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, July 2008. Photo courtesy of Barbara West.
Applicants for membership submit personal, business and financial information and are subject to a rigorous approval process; historically, less than half of the applications received are accepted. Associate members pay reduced dues for the first year, thereafter they may be invited to become “full” members (stockholders) of the Guild.
Leading Jewelers Guild members share buying power through a dedicated merchandising program backed with full-color catalogs, flyers, mailers, gift cards, promotions, signage, web graphics and much more. They collectively own the Love Story® and Two Hearts® Diamond brands, and are its exclusive dealers. Members gather twice a year, often with the whole family, for several days to share ideas and meet some of the top consultants and speakers in the industry. Their July Meeting & Show features about 50 key vendors to the group in an intimate 2-day buying event. Members celebrated the group’s 50th anniversary this July.
For more information contact Jimmy West, Executive Director at (310) 820-3386.