Last updateWed, 15 May 2019 3pm

Chuck Koehler

The Retailer’s Perspective: Houston, we have a problem

It appears that I’ve struck a nerve with something I’ve written about recently.  My phone and my e-mail have been pretty busy lately on the subject. And, surprisingly, most of the comments and conversations have been in favor of my opinion. Having been a gemologist in this industry for decades and decades, I feel like I’ve earned the right to speak from a position of authority.

The Retailer’s Perspective: The things I deal with on a daily basis

Keeping up with my internet properties

I have a hard time thinking of my various websites and such as properties, but they are, and they are mine, and I have to maintain them and keep them current.  And man, there is a bunch of them - Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Etsy, blah, blah, blah. Somebody make it stop! Just because I don’t like to do it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be done. That goes for you out there too.

General marketing  

Even though the internet has become a major player in how we all market our stores and businesses, there is still the old school method of boots on the street and getting the word out in conventional and unconventional ways. Which reminds me, my donation to the Nashville Humane Society silent auction fundraiser is due today.

Facebook and all of their changes

I just don’t understand what the heck Facebook is doing with their news feeds. I’m sure it has to do with money, but the way they restrict who can and who can’t see your business page befuddles me. If I like a business page, I want to see everything that business posts. If they post too much, I’ll decide to limit what I see. I really don’t need Facebook’s help in this. But, since I paid Facebook a lot of money to break the 5,000 likes barrier for my business page, why are they limiting the audience that I PAID THEM FOR? Grrrrrrr.


This usually comes in the form of, “Is this diamond real?” Or, “I just bought this off the internet and I want to know if I got ripped off or not.” My response is generally, “An appraisal is $125.” That usually culls the herd real quick. However, if someone found a stone that looks like a diamond in a parking lot, I’ll tell them yes or no. But, if you hand me something that looks like a diamond and about 50 pieces of paper that describe the history of diamonds and in depth explanations of diamond grading (the standard protocol of internet sellers; overwhelm them with paperwork and they won’t realize how crappy of a deal you gave them), then I just tell them we don’t do appraisals. An appraisal is a legal document that I sign my name to and it stays around forever. Some of these internet deals are just so shady that I don’t want to join the party… forever!

Bench work

Usually the only stress free part of my day. Regardless of all of the advancements in technology, I still get to catch things on fire and hit things with hammers every day.

Watch batteries

I swear, sometimes I pay all the bills on watch batteries alone. I charge $10 to install a watch battery, and we do a bunch of them. But I’m still amazed that people want to know how long I guarantee my $10 battery in their $5 watch. I mean seriously, its ten bucks! But recently we posted a sign in the store that says “Anthony Jewelers assumes no liability for damage to watches while installing batteries.”  Sometimes cheap watches fall apart when you touch them. I know this because people come in every day with broken, cheap watches wanting me to make them ‘good as new’ for less than the $19.95 that they paid for it 4 years ago. If a watch comes apart while I’m changing the battery, I just hand it back and say; “Sorry, it fell apart.  Time for a new watch.”

Ring sizings

Honestly, ring sizing is still too expensive with gold at $1,300 an ounce. Before the recession I averaged about a 98% capture rate on sizings and repairs. During the dark days of the recession I averaged maybe 10%.  Now, I’m up to about 50%. This is mainly due to the fact that what used to cost $35 now costs $135 and people just say “no” about half the time. Trust or no trust.

Gold price questions

Why do people always want to know the price of gold? They’ll be in for a watch battery and want to know what the price of gold is today. I guess it just fascinates people. They want me to tell them all about how the commodities markets work - like I know. I’m a jeweler, not a commodity broker. They want to know if they should buy gold now - like I know what it’s gonna do in the future. I’ll only be interested in the price of gold when it’s back to $400 an ounce. Then I’ll like gold again. Till then, ugh.

Remembering the recession is receding

Like I said earlier, I’m at about 50% of what I was doing pre-recession. Like so many of you out there that got stung hard, I’m still a little gun shy about a lot of things. For those of you out there that have seen my presentation about navigating a crisis, you’ll know what I mean when I say I have to remind myself constantly that I’m on the right side of the chart heading down. If you haven’t seen that presentation (then you need to), it means that the world fell apart several years ago, not yesterday. It’s not falling apart today and I have to constantly remind myself of that.

The DOW at 17,000

You know, I was never a market watcher before the recession and now I’m obsessed. And it’s not because of the money I have in the market (the recession relieved me of that), it’s because it’s an indicator of overall job security in America. For the last 30 years, regardless of the state of the economy, the jewelry repair business was very steady. Even when sales from the showcase were flat or non-existent, repairs paid the bills. But the job losses were so severe when the DOW was crashing in 2008 and 2009 that for the first time in my career, the jewelry repair business just stopped. I had 24 trade accounts in August, 2008. In August, 2014, only one of those trade accounts is still in existence. Ouch. The DOW at 17,000 means jobs are stable and I’m looking to move that 50% capture rate back up to 98%.

Brick and mortar issues

There’s a reason a lot of things are cheaper on the internet - they don’t have the myriad of expenses associated with having a retail storefront. Plumbing problems, HVAC problems, case lights burning out, case light ballasts going out ($$$$$), equipment breaking, “Chuck, the printer’s not working,” “Chuck, the computer’s not working,” “Chuck, I can’t get on the internet,” “Chuck,” “Chuck,” “Chuck.” It never ends. I have none of those problems with my virtual store.

Mail and e-mail

Good Lord, don’t get me started. Just trying to decide what needs to be addressed and what is junk is overwhelming when you own a business. The junk mail people have gotten really good at making their crap look important, and the important mail people have gotten really bad about making their crap look like junk mail. E-mail dings going off all day are relentless.

Selling jewelry and waiting on customers

Oh yea, somewhere in the middle of all this minutia, I’m supposed to find the time to actually do what I’m in business to do… sell jewelry! Seriously, where will I find the time?

Who’s going to the Atlanta Jewelry Show? I’ll be in the Southern/Mid-America Jewelry News booth just to the right of the main entrance on Sunday. Come tell me about your craziest customer.

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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