Monday, December 6, 2021

Such a Deal?



Richard Alan

Honestly, I enjoy a good deal as much as anyone when it is offered to me, but on the other hand, when did buying almost everything on the island suddenly becomes a game show episode of “Let’s Make a Deal”?

There are coupons and newspaper ads from every facet of island retail establishments hawking enormous discounts, lots of buy-one get-one free promotions (bogo’s), and many restaurants are offering two-for-one, complimentary bottles of wine, desserts and whatever it takes to get customers in the door. It can be agonizingly slow here in the summer for many.

Don’t get too excited, I don’t plan on offering a “buy a one-carat diamond earring stud and get the other for free” promotion anytime soon.

I firmly believe there is a time and a place to haggle. Heck, I tried reasonable negotiating at the world famous Ft. Myers flea market last season, only to be told the price was firm. If can’t do it there, then where? It’s a crazy world!

How come you never see anyone haggling over their purchases at our local supermarkets, pharmacies, dentists, big-box home improvement centers, boat rentals, air charters or above mentioned restaurants to name a few. But a jewelry store is fair game?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but when you and your special someone finishes dining at a nice restaurant, the server brings the check and the cost of that fabulous dinner and that divine bottle of French wine amounts to $200 without the tip, do you throw down $100 and head for the door, simply because that’s what you “felt” dinner was worth?

Try that on Marco and you may be whisked off to the blue light hotel soon, wearing an orange jumpsuit, and you and a special mystery someone will be sharing a room that evening.

So what’s my point? To some of my “kindred soul” readers they actually know where I am coming from and compliment me in the shop or in public for saying it like it is.

Oh yes! The point, “certain people” walk in my establishment and basically refuse to pay the price printed on the price tag. Funny thing is, most of the time I don’t know them from Adam, and they spew such nonsense that they know all jewelers work on a three or four mark-up… So now this means they have the right to offer me a fourth of what I’m asking? Here comes another re-run episode of “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Only problem is it’s my shop, and my diamonds and precious merchandise….And I hate repeats, so it’s now my game show. Welcome to “The Price is Right!”

About a decade ago, I knew a jeweler on the island who while in the midst of the slow and agonizing demise of his business sold his merchandise at or below his costs to “bring in business.” Don’t get excited wondering about his whereabouts. How did that brilliant marketing strategy work out? That shop is long gone, and the owner is in the wind, so to speak.

And now stay tuned to a retail reality check for…Those certain people!

Most jewelers I know are not complete morons, and the last five years or so have not been exactly ideal for the jewelry business; gold and silver soared to record breaking highs and, with this so-called improved economy, most of the American public’s luxury cash spending are at all-time lows.

Many Mom and Pop shops, including a few large chains, bit the dust, never to return. Even the big guys (You know, the one with the fancy blue box) were skating on thin ice. The jewelers I know don’t work on three or four time mark-ups. The only way to navigate through these troubled waters was to cut profit to the bone. It’s a possibility they still do large mark-ups in free-standing La-De-Da jewelry palaces in major cities.

Now you tell me…Where do you think the store’s 200k worth of showcases, expensive Persian rugs, antique chandeliers and staff of twenty came from? Giving deep discounts, and selling their multi-million dollar inventory at cost? I doubt it.

It brings me joy offering sincere discounts to “regular customers,” and especially my special V.I.P. card holders.

Sometimes I barter with local businesses and restauranteurs. The way I look at it is like this, when someone wants, no let me clarify that, almost demands to pay less for my jewelry or services, somewhere in the painful negotiating process I will deem the sale is on a street called Nowhere, and that road then leads to a place called Wastemytime. Oh, I could easily save the sale by relenting and practically giving my diamond away, a business practice which could result in changing my career to the extremely lucrative business of hawking pencils on Collier Boulevard (which, coincidently, is made out of the same element “C” simple carbon as a diamond). Not an option.

I once asked a “Let’s Make a Deal” couple what business they were in, and “what kind of deal can you do for me?” And yes, the reaction to my question left them speechless.

In case you have forgotten, I’m a no-nonsense kind of guy who likes asking right to-the-point questions. The result is usually immediate…I close the sale or they walk away.

And to all you go-getter sales gurus appalled at that obvious sales-killing comment; I’m a practicing goldsmith, not a silk-suited, perfectly manicured, silver-tongued salesperson. I have no disrespect for those necessary salespeople in my trade; my good problem is I have lots of custom, repair and bench work to do out back, and that, without question, pays the bills.

Forty-five years of “selling to the public” experience, I know when a jewelry sale has turned to “Ragtime” (i.e. the person or persons I assumed were potential buyer(s) has thoroughly convinced me that if I offered the piece at cost they still wouldn’t purchase it).

At mall jewelry stores, salespeople get paid to ‘talk the talk’ and offer ridiculous finance options to squeeze out a sale. They have quotas to meet or it’s the door. I know this for a fact, in my younger days I wore that suit and tie. Only I had a golden tongue. : )

What goes around comes around. I remember the time a woman beat me up for months over the price for a pair of unusual gold Italian earrings. She refused to leave a small deposit to hold them. No deposit, I consider you’re not serious, and back in the window it goes. A week later she’s back, she thinks “Round 12” is coming up. Only the problem is the lady she brushed by leaving the store had just purchased “her” earrings, and wore them out the door. I don’t make this stuff up. She was madder than heck. You snooze you lose. I can’t replace one of a kind pieces, end of story.

Monty Hall I’m not.

She should have picked window #1


Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. 239-394-9275 or visit his informative website at

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