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Last updateTue, 07 Jul 2020 11pm

Chuck Koehler

The Retailer’s Perspective: What do you want to talk about?

I don’t know, what do you want to talk about? I don’t know, what do you want to talk about?

Well, let’s rule some things out.  Let’s not talk about COVID.  Let’s not talk about pandemics. Let’s not talk about shutdowns. Let’s not talk about murder hornets. Let’s not talk about the upcoming presidential election or potential running mates. Let’s not talk about Congress and Washington D.C. And for God’s sake, let’s not talk about Carol F. Baskin and Tiger King.

I guess we could talk about the jewelry industry, that’s not too controversial. Of course it’s been a minute since I’ve been busy and sometimes I think I’ve forgotten what I do for a living. I know how to lay around the house and eat though. I’ve gotten pretty good at that. Ha ha, just kidding. I’ve never been good at laying around doing nothing. I’ve always got to be accomplishing some task or another.

I guess we could talk about the reopening of America and all of our businesses.

As we move forward, or sometimes as we move sideways, one thing is certain; NO ONE KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT! It’s either going to be good, or bad, or neutral, or a combination of the three - with a 4th or 5th unknown variable we haven’t even thought about yet. As a long time business owner though, I think most of us can agree on one thing - we know what will happen if we don’t reopen!

I reopened several weeks ago, and a few people trickled in during the first two weeks. Then, on the Monday of week three, I had my first normal day since this whole debacle started. Tuesday was also a pretty normal day. As was Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. As of this writing, I’m into my fourth week, and so far, so good. So where do we go from here?

During the shutdown, business owners had to reimagine their business models in order to not go bankrupt. A few of the creative ways we learned to operate during the shutdown will probably stick around once we’re back to normal. Several of them we will gladly see fade into history. Let’s look at a few of these new business practices and give them a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Contactless Service

That’s a big thumbs down from me. Most of our customer interactions require us to actually touch each other. If I’m sizing your finger for your new engagement ring, we’re gonna have personal contact. If I’m trying to determine if a customer’s necklace needs to be 19 inches or 19 1/8 inches, there’s gonna be contact. If someone accidently ate a peanut butter power bar, and they have a peanut allergy, we’re gonna touch when I have to cut their ring off of their finger. Of course, there are some people and some things I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. If I wouldn’t touch them before, I dang sure won’t touch them now. But with a few exceptions, my customers and I are going to have physical contact; skin to skin!

Curbside Delivery

Before the coronavirus, all of us would gladly run something out to the car for someone if it was inconvenient for them to come inside. I still do this for a lot of my elderly customers who just can’t get around very well. But, if you now expect me to come out and wait on you in your car because you’re lazy (and I had to do it during the shutdown), you’re going to be waiting in your car a long time. Let’s face it, we have a retail store so people can come in, not so we can go out. We have a retail showroom because that’s where we do that voodoo that we do. We don’t make magic in the parking lot. Well, except for that one time at band camp, but that’s another story for another time and another audience.

The only reason we could even think about it during the shutdown was because our showrooms were shuttered. We could lock the door behind us and go outside because no customers were inside - by law! I don’t think anyone really liked curbside service, but most of us don’t like going broke either, so we did it out of necessity. But now that our showrooms are open, and my customers can get out of their cars and come inside, that’s what I’m going to require them to do. That’s why it’s called a showroom. It’s a room where I show people things.

Zoom Meetings and Conferences

Now, I’ve got to admit, I kinda like this one. I don’t think I ever really used it for my day job stuff, but I liked it for my other groups and extracurricular activities where a lot of people need to be in the same space at the same time to discuss things. I know a lot of my fellow brick and mortar peeps used it to conduct business. I’d never even heard of Zoom until coronavirus. I think this one is going to stick around long after all of this is over. I’ve done a few Zoom’s with my family around the country, and it’s cool to see everyone and have real-time conversations like you would do at a family reunion. I’m giving this one a thumb’s up.

Sanitizing Stations and Plexiglas Dividers

Meh. I can’t care about this. I’ve been exposed to so much sanitizer the last several months that I clean the toilet every time I pee. I’ll probably keep those supplies on my counter for no reason other than to get rid of my stockpile. I don’t personally use it very often because I have soap and water available and I just wash my hands. I may not be a world famous surgeon, but I do wash my hands like one now. As far as the Plexiglas dividers, those are going in the trash the minute the government tells me it’s not required to have them installed in order to be open.

Good luck to everyone on reopening your businesses. Remember, you can’t make people do the right thing, so you do you, and let them do them. Decide what’s right for you and your employees and staff, and stick to it, and stay safe.

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.

 


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