(CLEARWATER, Fla.) – Members of Leading Jewelers Guild (LJG), a prestigious member owned jewelry organization of independent retailers, and their families, assembled at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater, FL, for their semi-annual March Meeting March 6 – 10. The scheduled meetings were organized to develop strategies for jewelers during tough times. “In December 2007 we knew we were faced with a recession, so we’ve stressed doing different things for survival,” said LJG (outgoing) president, Gene Thompson (Thompson Jewelers, Orlando, FL), “now the challenge is figuring out what works and what doesn’t and adjusting course accordingly.”
Co-founder and President of the Edge Retail Academy, David Brown gave the keynote address on “Surviving 2009 and Beyond,” touching on a diverse range of subjects from communications to budgeting to marketing to inventory control. “We attend roughly 10 buying shows each year,” said Brown, “Over the years, many of these shows have become impersonal and more about what’s in it for the group rather than the members. Your show reminded me of what’s important. There is a real warmth and sense of community; there is an opportunity for members to speak ‘safely’ and be heard. You get the sense that by belonging to the Leading Jewelers Guild, you have a voice and can actually make a difference. The caliber of members and their willingness to share and learn from each other is so refreshing. I was impressed.”
The LJG Meetings always provide opportunities for friends to come together. (Left to right) Kevin Anderson (Anderson’s Mfg. Jewelers, Lancaster, SC),
Steven Singer (Steven Singer Jewelers, Philadelphia, PA), Todd Weber (Weber’s Jewelry and Gifts, Robinson, IL),
Michael Hurst (Hurst Fine Diamonds, Lawrence, KS) and Dave Necker (Necker’s Jewelers, DeWitt, IA).
Photo by Barbara West.
Well-known jewelry sales trainer Kate Peterson (CEO of Performance Dynamics) introduced Diane Garavaglia, Ph.D (president of Content Deliverance). The two presented the operation of Love Story’s new web-delivered training programs. “It was great to see a group of people with so positive an outlook and so focused on a plan for moving forward,” said Peterson. “No ‘doom-and-gloom’ here! It was a productive, pragmatic environment where the very best in everyone’s experience was brought to the forefront for the benefit of the group and its members.”
Members Tobey Ritchie (Harry Ritchie’s Jewelers, Eugene, OR) and Julie Sather (Sather’s Leading Jewelers, Ft. Collins, CO) made a multimedia presentation entitled “Making the Most of Your Marketing Dollars.” They highlighted non-traditional ideas and methods to “touch your customer” when marketing dollars are scarce. In addition, they encouraged all members to read “The Ten Commandments of Business Failure” by Donald R. Keogh and presented key points from the book.
Abe Sherman (CEO of Buyers International Group) gave his assessment of the state of the industry. “Brands are in trouble,” said Sherman, “forget image, go for value and price point… the aspirational customer is gone for the moment.” Together with associate, Mary Galeski, he introduced his inventory management and merchandising solution, Balance to BuyTM Online, which teaches jewelers how to analyze the big picture and drill into the details to unlock much needed cash tied up in non-performing inventory.
LJG’s Farewell Beach Party: (Left to right) Performance Concepts’ CEO, Kate Peterson,
Tess Larsen, merchandise manager for Leading Jewelers Guild, and Julie Sather-Browne,
Sather’s Leading Jewelers, Ft. Collins, Co. Photo by Barbara West.
Other sessions were devoted to using the group’s third-party credit vendor (GE), online diamond inventories, private insurance for jewelry purchases, introducing Pandora Jewelry, etc. The five-day event includes several group dinners, a dine-around “mystery dinner,” and a full “day off” to spend time with friends. “A key component of all Leading Jewelers Guild meetings is social,” said Leading Jewelers Guild’s new president Robert Marks (Rogers Jewelry Co., Modesto, CA), “I’ve developed friendships here that will last a lifetime!”
Prospective new member, Steven Singer (Steven Singer Jewelers, Philadelphia, PA) attended all the sessions. “Any forward thinking jeweler would be nuts not to join such a wonderful group of the best and brightest in our industry,” said Singer.
Leading Jewelers Guild, an organization completely owned by its member jewelers, through its strategic relationships and collective buying power, offers their retail membership the opportunity to lower overall operating costs and increase buying power in a strong, relationship driven environment. A full service merchandising and strategic planning operation, Leading Jewelers Guild is an invaluable marketing, catalogue production and advertising resource dedicated to the overall business needs of their member companies. The LJG was originally founded in 1958. For more information contact James “Jimmy” West, Executive Director at 310-820-3386.