I would like to start out by saying “Thank you” to many of you who enjoyed my last column. The response was monumental; it included phone calls, e-mails and personal appearances. Not to mention a great deal of business. I was happy to provide a way to turn ugly jewelry into new jewelry, and even provide enough cash for one couple to embark on that dream vacation they always wanted. The most memorable was the pair of diamond earrings a customer acquired from trading in a handful of old gold neck chains. Mary told me that she always wanted diamond stud earrings, but “Old Skinflint” (Her term of endearment for her recently deceased husband.) refused for decades to get her a pair. Enter “The three pile system.” It made her dream come true, and was a huge eye-opener and success for many. Once again, thank you!
As I understand it “Feng Shui” is a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing with the environment. I know of several people who specialize in Feng Shuiing one’s home layout to bring peace and tranquility to the occupants. Some folks consider it poppycock and others swear by the ancient philosophy. It got me thinking … why not jewelry?
It may sound silly, but just for example, next time you are out and about concentrate on the kind of jewelry people around you are wearing. Some folks may be wearing pieces that are pleasing to the eye, while others are wearing jewelry that is downright unattractive (A.K.A. “ugly!”). We all have different tastes in just about everything! From relationships to food, automobiles to furniture. Different strokes for different folks.
I am a staunch believer that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” After all, I’m in the jewelry business and I learned decades ago that I can’t just buy jewelry that my wife and I find pleasing because maybe only 50% of my customers will feel as we do. Now what do I do with the other 50% of expensive merchandise? It’s a slippery slope and misjudging what people will buy can be costly and kill a business sure as a Florida sinkhole.
Kind of explains why not a single high-end, luxury type jewelry store has ever survived on Marco Island. I have yet to see Cartier or Tiffany say “Oh yes! This is the place! Let’s spend thirty million on a building and merchandise and lay roots down.” I have been here over 21 years, and I have lost count of how many jewelry stores have come and gone.
How have I survived these many years you ask? Besides my magnetic and sparkling personality, it comes down to location, and the fact that my son and I pretty much do all the work right here, plus our choice of jewelry at the right price and most importantly…sheer unadulterated luck.
So back to the Feng Shui thing, I redesigned the store, making it cleaner and less cluttered to be pleasing to the customer’s eye, and added some new shop equipment to make us more efficient.
I guess now that I am enduring and enjoying the autumn of my life, I have been blessed with a son whose talent and skill is way beyond my expectations. My Yin and Yang is in perfect harmony and anyone who attempts to disrupt that feeling of tranquility is quite simply shown the door.
Another thing I learned in my forty-five years creating and selling jewelry to the public is that you can’t please all the people all the time. And living and working on “The Rock” is more or less “Mayberry with sand.” I have had the pleasure and displeasure of interacting with all kinds of people – many of whom beyond my reasoning managed to escape being committed. My theory on that is if you are unstable and of little means you will probably get “put away” so to speak, but if you are unstable and wealthy you are considered simply eccentric. It’s just a theory mind you, although I have managed to escape the rubber room and I’m not wealthy. (There is a big difference between being wealthy and having some money. An interesting island subject I will save for another time.)
I have been using the “three strikes you’re out” business formula or policy when dealing with the pleasing of an unhappy customer. The first two strikes there is the serious possibility it may be because of me or my staff as to why the customer is not pleased. So now I will spend my expertise, time and money to rectify the problem one more time to insure perfection of the task. If on the third attempt, the result of what my staff and I consider to be perfection, is then presented to the customer and results in strike three, now my Yin and Yang has been wrinkled and torn and I have lost face, resulting in a loss of valuable store time and my money for the third time. There is a simple equation to the formula:
3 + s (strikes) X s t b x c = (soon to be x customer ) = f t d (front door)
An improper business formula many of you may say, but it’s worked for me for the last forty years. Some island jewelry stores have shown customers the door after strike one, some go into extra innings; they are all gone and I’m still standing. Please understand that the good customers far outnumber the bad. The algebra is good, numbers and letters don’t lie and I have always hated algebra!
I guess when I have achieved the ultimate in Jewelry Feng Shui is when I make a customer cry tears of joy when they adorn a piece of jewelry I made especially for them. (Not to be confused with tears of expulsion.)
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and the Owner of The Harbor Goldsmith located @ Island Plaza next to Beall’s Outlet. He welcomes your questions and comments about all that glitters. 239-394-9275 firstname.lastname@example.org our website harborgoldsmith.com is currently under construction and will be online soon.