Sunday, December 5, 2021

Painfully Cheap Isn’t Frugal



Richard Alan

I know what you’re thinking, here goes Richard again, ranting about people who enter his jewelry store. Notice I said people, not customers. I love my regular customers; I have even begun rewarding the faithful with special V.I.P. card memberships to offer them sincere savings, perks and freebees for their patronage during these tough years. Nobody knows better than I do that things are still tough all over, but I’m still optimistic in my world; it’s slowly getting better.

Things have been tough in the luxury business and jewelry is in one of the tip top tiers of the layer cake in the luxury retail market. Without a doubt, selling multi-million dollar mega yachts or Lear jets or luxurious ocean front penthouse condos certainly have me beat, and I’m sure most are also suffering at the top.

Being a goldsmith and a jeweler gives me an advantage over regular retail jewelry stores. I can make my own jewelry and professionally repair just about any broken or worn piece that walks through the door, where in most cases my competitors have to send it out of town.

Between that and my sparkling personality, it’s the reason I’m still in business on the island when others have faded away.

Now that the sleepy summer season has passed, I am grateful to several of my dearest V.I.P. customers for renewing my faith that there are still some folks on this island and off that believe that nothing is more exquisite than a beautiful hand crafted piece of jewelry consisting of diamonds and gold. What made it even more special was that there were no episodes of embarrassing quibbling about cutting costs and corners that involved sacrificing quality in the finished product.

These special customers expressed exactly what they wanted and expected only the best quality and craftsmanship. They left it to me to create; I delivered both and at a fair price.

For the past few years, contrary to public belief, many people were treating me as If I ran a non-profit organization. Perfect strangers would walk in expecting services that involved my time and expertise, not to mention my gold or silver findings and expect not to pay the cost for it. I even had several characters dictate to me what they should pay for repairing their ring or neck chain. Day in and day out my staff and I hear “I had no idea it was that expensive!” and “I will have to talk to my husband first.” I rip up and throw away the just filled out repair envelope, because he sure as heck won’t approve the $15 repair cost. My gaud! When did $15 to repair a piece of gold jewelry become so expensive On Marco Island????

It perturbs me when people (Still not customers!) want to enlarge three or four gold or platinum rings and insist I use brass or silver instead of gold? They would rather ruin their rings than pay the proper price; many times we are talking about diamond rings that have values of $10,000 or more! This is not frugality; it’s nonsense! I would never lower myself and do such shoddy work to any gold or platinum ring!

Look at it this way – these “people” are standing in my air-conditioned jewelry store with nicely lit showcases bulging with beautiful new jewelry. I usually have two or three sales persons, that includes my Mom flitting about, not to mention two full-time and one part-time goldsmith, as well as a neurotic bookkeeper and las,t but not leas,t my rescue shop dog “Toby.”

Only recently, I spent 45 minutes away from my bench (where I happen to make a living) cleaning and polishing umpteen pieces of really fine jewelry for a person who I thought would become a new customer.

“The cleaning” also involved tightening several loose gemstones, adjusting faulty catches and replacing two watch batteries. Every piece looked brand spanking new when I finished. The “person” thanked me and to my surprise proceeded to walk out of the store. I called to her that there was a $20 fee for what I just performed “A fee?” she retorted. “That other jeweler near Publix who’s gone now, never charged me.” I replied, “it kind of tells you why he’s gone, and I’m still here don’t it.” After a few uncomfortably weird moments, she reluctantly paid me for my services and drove away in a car that I can guarantee you, I couldn’t afford.

Anyone who knows me – for example, “a customer” – will tell you no one charges fairer prices than I do. My staff and I have always respected Marco’s residents and do hundreds of free services for the deserving every year; I cater especially to my senior veteran brothers and sisters who honorably served this great country.

So why would anyone well to do, or not, expect 45 minutes of service to be free? At least give us a couple of dollar to keep Toby fed for crying out loud!

After she drove away, I stepped outside to make sure that my Goldsmith sign out front hadn’t been changed to Goodwill.

I recently discontinued a promotional $5 coupon that was available at the local supermarket. The cost of advertising became too expensive; here’s where I became the frugal one. Now understand, I ran the promo for over ten years. I broke even on watch batteries; sometimes I lost money – didn’t make squat. I did it to get new faces in the store, and guess what? I got some great customers, but also an army of “people” who once or twice a year presented their coupon for a new deeply discounted battery, those people never bought a single thing in ten years, and they expect a V.I.P card with perks and freebees?

Brethren! Give and ye shall receive!

I realize the holiday season is already upon me and I just refilled my prescription of “be nice pills,” as well as an injection of holiday spirit … I am trying, really trying. I only barely survived keeping my sanity this past summer after being deluged by insensitive out-of-state or European cheapskates (there is no other way to say it!). They greatly outnumber the frugal of us living in the real world on this piece of sandy coral.

Once again, a huge thank you to my V.I.P. friends and customers who recently restored my faith in mankind and for re-stimulating my creative juices. It was an honor and a privilege to design hand crafted pieces of jewelry that will give bring you joy and last for your generations to come.

Happy Holidays! Support your local goldsmith and shop early.


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