It gives me great sense of pride when customers tell me they would never bring their jewelry to anyone but yours truly. It’s nice to know that there is still a small semblance of loyalty out there. We baby boomers all remember the word…
In the good old days (Did I just hear the younger generations groan with indifference?) we had our private butchers, bakers and maybe even candlestick makers. We would frequent only a small handful of restaurants, and in my case, my Italian and Chinese joints where everyone knew your name and immediate family. We had a milkman. I had my barber and my plumber. All were known by their first, middle and last names. We were loyal customers.
Many of you younger whippersnappers might snicker at this, but you know something, that’s the difference between our generations. When you first did business with someone thirty or forty years ago you could look them in the eye and you got a sense of trust or you didn’t. You were either satisfied with the product or service and the price charged or you were not. If not being happy was the case you never went back. You didn’t condemn the establishment on social media because they ruined your day by not changing your watch battery while you waited and made you come back a whole hour later (When was the last time you had a prescription filled in five minutes?) or complain on the world wide web that the Thai restaurant’s food was too spicy (What did you expect you moron, mild Thai cuisine?).
Today’s generation definitely lacks a sense of loyalty, except maybe soon in the near future when they establish a solid relationship with their Florida medicinal marijuana shop. I’m not done trashing the newer generations just yet, I can do this because even though I have been in business on the island for twenty-five years they are only ½ of 1% of my business, and only come in to have something repaired or adjusted because they purchased it online and they won’t do that little thing we call service after the sale was made. Besides, they rarely shop in Mom and Pop shops, much less read my column.
Can’t wait for the repercussions from my remarks!
Back in the day, if the service was extraordinary you told your friends and relatives. That’s how businesses were built, exactly the way I built mine. And in those days I was in downtown Boston’s jeweler’s building with over a hundred different jewelry stores, actually next door to each other. My loyal customers came to see me, they didn’t browse around from floor to floor, but came to my humble six hundred square foot shop and showroom on the 6th floor; it was their only destination. And I still have remnants of it today on Marco.
Today the young folk buy ridiculously expensive jewelry on the internet from people with no names and then they cry bloody murder when they learn that they were bamboozled out of their money. (You can cry a river, but don’t cry to me.) You bought it on a (web) site unseen, now live with the consequences.
Which reminds me of a new millennium customer who came in monthly for years with watch after watch for batteries and strap adjustments. I swear I never saw the same watch twice. (How many does this dude own?) I can never figure this generation out,they either own more watches than a Miami drug dealer or they don’t own a single one (My son Andrew comes to mind). Their cell phones have more accurate clocks, who needs a watch? I always treated him fairly, often times when I was in a good mood and not real busy (which is rarely) I would do his watch(es) while he waited, and not charge him full price.
One Saturday morning he comes waltzing in with a ream of printed out papers, asking me for some advice on a very expensive diamond he was planning on purchasing online (remember, I sell diamonds… ok?). So before he could even plunk down his pile of research, I said “I’m not interested and I’m quite busy at the moment.” He didn’t understand my lack of interest, “But it should only take a few moments of your time.” I told him, first of all what you’re asking me to do is a little insulting, second of all printed papers from an online fantasy diamond company is not what I need to look at, it’s the actual diamond, and they are not going to send you squat until you fork over the big pile of Benjamins, and from my vast years of experience with online diamond purchases, the diamond you receive will not be the one described in that fictitious report. Not to mention the fact I won’t make a red cent during this transaction and will have to endure the drama of your disappointment caused by my input and my ignored professional recommendations. Like I said before…I’m not interested. If you ever want to see what a really nice diamond looks like, I have a safe full. He turned and left in a huff.
Diamond-tipped bullet avoided.
Now in these times, I understand this is a tough subject with credit card fraud, identity theft and getting ripped off at every turn you seem to make. Just a few days ago a regular customer left her $125,000 diamond ring on the counter for a repair and I had to chase her out the door to insist she take her receipt. “I’m not worried about you Richard!” Her trust in me warmed my heart, but nevertheless please take the receipt! And then ten minutes later I will have someone reluctant to leave a broken, gold plated $10 chain because it is sentimental and they fear I’m going to lose it or sell it or some nonsense. I truly understand the lack of trust in society today, and it is pretty important to have trust in “your jeweler” and no less important to have that same amount of trust in your car mechanic, builder or even a dentist because someone dishonest in those professions will not only take your money, but make you miserable as well.
While it is true things have changed, there is one thing that will never change, and that is a person’s integrity. No one wants to spend a lot of their hard-earned money with a person(s) of questionable scruples or bad reputation. I know I steer away.
With integrity comes trust and with trust comes loyalty. None of these qualities, which include a soul, can be found in cyberspace.
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or email@example.com, or visit his informative website at www.harborgoldsmith.com.