Last updateWed, 22 Nov 2017 7am

Chuck Koehler

The Retailer’s Perspective: Chuck finds interesting things at the Atlanta Jewelry Show

October of 2008 was when it hit me.  That was when I knew it was gonna be bad.  Yes, I’m referring to the Great American Recession.  Nobody knew how to navigate that mess, but somehow a bunch of us made it out on the other side.  I was at the SJTA Show in Atlanta recently and talk

The Retailer’s Perspective: But... what if the customer IS wrong?

Seriously.  What if the person standing across the counter from you is clearly making a huge mistake? 

Yea, yea, I know the saying, ‘The customer is always right.’ I just don’t believe it half the time.  After decades of doing this kind of work, I’d like to think that I probably know more about this jewelry topic than the person across the counter.  That’s why they came to me in the first place!  Right?

The Retailer’s Perspective: Woo Hoo... I made a sale!

About darn time!  And, before I could properly celebrate, my online store made another one, then another one.  It’s true what they say; you always remember your first one.  It went something like this…

About two years ago I started to develop a new product to bring to the marketplace.  I’ve written about it here before, but mostly about the trials and tribulations of building the website, not the Facebook side of it.  For me though, the Facebook side is what’s gotten me the most attention out in the cyber world.  When we first set up the Facebook page, we got a few likes from those close to the project.  Then, you beg your family and friends to ‘like’ your page, and that’s good for about 80-100 likes.  But, in all reality, they only ‘liked’ it because they had to - and hoping I’d cut ‘em a good deal for liking it.

The Retailer’s Perspective: In the path of disaster

As we all watched the tragedy unfold in Oklahoma and the Midwest over the last couple of weeks, it reminded me of a similar situation I was in about 5 or 6 years ago.  So, I’m gonna take a break from the jewelry industry stuff and write about one of my other jobs - emergency response.  In that world I’m known as Sgt. Koehler, 3120, Metro Nashville Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, Emergency Support Unit.

The Retailer’s Perspective: When the gold goes tumbling down!

I, for one, will be THRILLED!  I know a lot of you out there will be devastated, maybe even driven out of business if gold tanks, so let’s talk about it.

In 1978, I was a 17 year old junior in high school and stumbled into a job at Best Products in Dallas, TX working in their jewelry warehouse.  That was 35 years ago.  I’m not an economist, I’m not a market analyst, and I’m no expert on money (just ask my banker), but I have been around this gold and silver thing for the better part of 5 different decades so here are my observations.

For starters, I’ve always wished that we could somehow separate the gold and silver we use in the jewelry industry from the gold and silver that doomsday preppers use to hedge their bets against an “all out global economic meltdown.”  The old “nothing beats gold when the system breaks down and anarchy rules” state-of-mind has been alive and well in the world for the last 5 or 6 years.  And, if you were a financial advisor in 2008 watching the stock markets crashing, and the gold markets soaring, you’d have been a fool not to jump on the bandwagon… even though it practically wrecked the jewelry industry.

Simple case in point: 14K solder was $13 a pennyweight for the better part of 30 years.  When I was making a parts order, and I needed solder, I’d order an extra one or two just to have in stock.  Okay, it was really because I misplace that stuff all the time and I didn’t want to spend an hour looking for it.  I could just grab a new one until I stumbled across the old one. 

Well guess what, I haven’t ordered an extra dwt of solder in several years.  I’ve only ordered what I actually need.  What used to cost $26 (2 dwts of solder) now costs $116.  I’d rather spend my time looking for the one I lost than spend my money on something I don’t really need at $1,700 an ounce.  And, if you’re in the business of selling solder, this sucks!

Somewhere around the late ‘70s and the early ‘80s gold spiked to close to $1,000 an ounce, but it was really short lived.  I was 19 years old at the time and don’t really remember what the fallout was for those that were sitting on tons of expensive gold when it dropped back to pre-spike prices.  But, this is the year 2013 and gold has already dropped more per ounce this year than it cost per ounce the last 30 years.  That being said, look out, something’s about to bounce - and I think it’s gold, bouncing down.

Back in 2008, when gold shot up to $1,000 an ounce, I interviewed several store owners about how they were handling the spike.  I thought I’d call those people again and get their take on the current gold situation.

Bill Sites, at Ward-Potts Jewelers had this to say: “I’m not really doing anything different.  I don’t feel that gold is ever going to go back to $500 an ounce.  My customers know that gold is very expensive right now, and the fluctuations in the market are just that, fluctuations.”

I asked Bill how he was planning his future inventory purchases: “Vendors and suppliers used to offer us the option of locking in the price at order placement or order shipment.  I think that is probably going to come back around as a viable business practice in the near future.”

Huh.  I’d completely forgotten about that.

Lisa Morehead, of Masman Jewelers had this to say: “We buy a lot of gold off the street and I have several customers that have been holding out on selling large quantities.  I’m calling those customers now and telling them that this might be the time to get rid of it.” 

Lisa did say that several of them have asked, “Are you still willing to give me what you quoted me last year?”  


When asked about buying inventory, Lisa said that she is not purchasing heavily right now, just mostly filling in because she feels that gold is going to continue to trend down.

Scott Isaacs of Belle Meade Jewelry thinks that this is just a temporary low in the gold market.  “Honestly, I’m enjoying the discount at the moment,” he told me.  He thinks that gold is going to go back up.

Allison Cianciulli, of Selig’s Jewelers, pointed out to me that her store has been leaning heavily towards higher end sterling silver jewelry lines over gold jewelry lines.  Allison also pointed out that the few times she’s had customers request heavy gold byzantine or woven style necklaces or bracelets, her suppliers are no longer carrying these items in their inventory.

I guess the suppliers don’t want to get caught holding the bag either.

Wayne Clark of EJ Sain Jewelers had this to say: “It’s just not something that we think about anymore.  I think it’s going to go below $1,000, eventually, but not anytime soon, so we just don’t let it factor in to our decisions.  We’ve got our jeweler back there making jewelry every day, and when he needs gold, we buy him gold.”

I called my trusty coin dealer down the street and asked him if a Joe Blow comes in off the street wanting to buy gold coins, what would he do?  Without hesitation, he said, “I’d tell him I was out of them.  If it was a long time good customer, I might sell them one or two coins, but I wouldn’t let them clean me out.  I want them taking up space in my vault right now.”

So kids, what have we learned today?  I’ll tell you what we learned…. nothing.  But, if you’ve been reading my column long enough, you’ve probably come to expect that, haven’t you? 

Honestly though, what it boils down to is this - gold is going to do what gold is going to do, and there’s not a damned thing we can do about it.  I talked to a lot of jewelry store owners and all of them had an opinion about what the future holds, and every opinion was different. 

Personally, I’m on the “gold is gonna drop like a hot potato so I’m only going to hold on to what I need to get by” bandwagon.

Who thinks I’m wrong?  Feel free to write me and let me know what you think the future holds.

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide.

If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Retailer’s Perspective: This is harder than it looks!

About 12 years ago, in another life, I lived in an area of Nashville called Belle Meade.  Belle Meade was just nominated as the best place in the United States to retire if you are rich (like I said, it was another life).  While I lived there, I had, hands down, the nicest lawn in Belle Meade.  And this was a city where the residents bought and paid for the best lawn care available - and I still kicked every one of their butts.  How did I do it?  It went something like this…

The Retailer’s Perspective: I hate it when that happens...

As I’m struggling with this whole Internet thing, I asked my readers for input on my websites and what I’m doing wrong in regards to them.  Well, apparently I’m doing everything wrong!  But, I’m bound and determined to get this thing right which is why I asked for input. 

I’m adamant that 100% of the websites be built in-house so as to retain control of how long it takes content to be posted on or deleted from my websites.  I don’t want to wait 5 days for my computer geek dude to get around to calling me back only to tell me it’s going to be three weeks before he can even think about my problem.  I’m a fix-it guy and I want to fix it or update it on MY schedule, not his.  So below are excerpts and comments that I received about what I’m doing wrong… and what you’re probably doing wrong as well!  Reader feedback and comments are in italics and edited for publishing reasons, but I think you’ll get the point.

So Chuck, why do you even have a website? In other words, what is its purpose?

You have a successful brick and mortar store and need one so you’re not left behind by everyone else (not a very good reason), or I wanted one for when someone “Googles” my store’s name (slightly better reason) or I wanted a website to be an extension of my store’s operation, perhaps to make some sales and enhance my business (much better reason) or I wanted to become a real player in the e-commerce, niche market space where I want to operate (the best reason). 

For the record, I need a little bit of all of the above, but it’s the last one that I’m really interested in!

Informational websites abound all over the Internet!  We’ve all seen them and been disappointed. We went to a company’s website and found it was nothing of real substance aside from the usual who, what, when, where and why of the company.  It had some founding history, mission statement, contact information, Google map directions and store hours. It was flashy, slick and using the latest trends in websites such as rotating images, splash screens, embedded videos and all the bells & whistles you could imagine. Very creative!

Unfortunately we have to contact them during business hours to be able to ask any questions, inquire about products or conduct any business.  Oh well, time to move on to a competitor most likely. If an informational website is what you have, that’s pretty much the response you’re likely to get from most customers that come to your website outside of your normal business hours looking for solutions to problems, answers to questions, or products and services to buy.

There are many good, free webhost providers out there. You mentioned Weebly.com as the one you used to develop and host your site. They do seem to have all the necessary components to develop an attractive informational website with a number of professional templates to choose from, with one glaring exception…an e-commerce solution!! Now we’re talking a full shopping cart system and not just some PayPal ‘Buy Now’ buttons.

Oops, this is where I goofed because my entire umbrella of websites are built on the Weebly platform.  I really like Weebly, but if it doesn’t do e-commerce, then I’m starting over.  I want to do e-commerce and I guess I didn’t really understand the full blown shopping cart system when I started.  I hate it when that happens!

E-commerce websites abound all over the Internet, too!!  If you’re serious about making money from a website and not just spending money on a website, then an e-commerce solution is what you need.

Unfortunately, not all e-commerce websites are equal. The most successful one’s (Amazon.com, eBay, Overstock.com, etc.) all spend a great deal of time, money and resources to create the near perfect online shopping. Well, you might never get to be another Amazon.com but you are in the same cyberspace as they are, so why not? We can all probably remember when they didn’t even exist! Everyone has to start out from the bottom and work their way up. The two most important virtues in the e-commerce cyberspace universe are patience and perseverance.

Realistically, most e-commerce websites are not successful because of many factors. Most suffer from little or low traffic flow. Generally, this is because of poor organic search engine listing and/or no pay-per-click advertising. It takes a combination of both of these to be successful in cyberspace.

A reader asked me who was bigger, my company or Amazon.com?  Of course I said Amazon.  Then they pointed out that on a computer screen we’re the exact same size.  So I’ve as good a shot at making a sale as they do in cyberspace.  And ‘pay-per-click’ came up over and over and over again.  I don’t really understand it yet, but give me a month or so and I’m gonna be pay-per-clicking with the best of them.

You don’t have to be Amazon.com to be successful. Success can be measured in many different ways (review your purpose for having a website again), but an e-commerce website is successful when it fulfills the purpose for its existence which generally means it offers customers products and/or services they want or need with a variety of payment and shipping options from which to choose so you can accept sales online and make money. A well designed and effective e-commerce website should function with little customer/company interaction which means you have to anticipate your customers questions and/or concerns and address them with large, clear images, detailed descriptions of products or services and customer service information (such as contact, warranty and return info, etc.).

Remember, an e-commerce website is 24/7. Unlike your brick & mortar store where you can turn out the lights, lock-up and go home at the end of the day, an e-commerce website never closes so it must project whatever image and deliver whatever experience you want customers to have. Since an e-commerce website is always open it better be rock solid and bullet proof!

Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need a mixed bag of websites.  I’ve got a couple that are nothing more than ‘I’m right here… call me’.  But I have two different companies that I set up to be fully online entities.  So, I’m not starting completely from scratch, but I am stepping back and punting on two websites and switching to a different hosting platform that’s designed to be a full blown e-commerce site.

I got into this business decades before the Internet was even thought of, and it’s just something that doesn’t come naturally to me.  I can use the Internet with the best of them, but running an Internet store is a whole nuther animal.  Oh, and have I ever mentioned how much I hate learning new things? 

Oh well, wish me luck and I’ll keep you posted as I struggle to get a handle on this thing that didn’t exist when I got into this business, but I’m gonna kick it’s butt before it kicks mine.

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide.

If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..