Surviving a summer on Marco? No matter how I budget both mentally and monetarily to get through the lean summer months, something always comes up, and as for all the beautifully laid plans… well you know. No problem, no worries man, got past that, took care of this and persevered. I have an incredibly professional staff, and business has been surprisingly good for the summer months, with or without my presence.
I know, I know, I should count my blessings, shut up and consider myself lucky …but that’s not my nature. I’m like many Islanders’s who always complain it’s too hot or too cold: I complain if it’s too busy or not busy enough. So when things get tough, the tough get going…away! Summer time, I tend to do an exit stage left.
There is a main reason: I have noticed in the past few years that a certain kind of island folk come out of the woodwork, so to speak, in the summer. You never see them between October and June, but only when the island is as desolate as a lava field and, to put it bluntly, it’s no picnic dealing with them.
You might have experienced one or two of them yourself: The couple ahead of you in line as they fumble around with a debit card, or worse write a check, in Publix for $1.29 purchase. The same people loudly complain at your now quiet favorite restaurant that the catch of the day tastes fishy. (I won’t name names they know who they are!)
It’s no wonder that, for the last seven or eight years, my wife and I distance ourselves from the rock and spend our summers far away in Europe. My regular customers know that if you want to do business with me personally… July and August is not the time.
And lately September doesn’t look good either! Now that my other shop carries clothing and giftware we will be in and out of trade shows most of August and September. (My wife and I make up the hours in season with our combined one hundred and forty-plus hour work weeks.) So I subject my well trained and super-patient staff to service that certain kind of summer islander while I’m avoiding, uh, I mean away.
A typical July day goes like this: “Is Richard Here?” No, I’m sorry he’s in Europe with his wife. “Well, I need a new battery for my Timex. When will he be back?” Sir, we have a gentleman who works here that changes batteries when Richard is away. He’s a pro. It will only take a moment. No, I’ll wait for Richard to come back. Can I make an appointment? I’m sorry. No sir. Richard will have my head if I make an appointment for him to change a watch battery.
Then there are the summer folk who bring in bizarre articles to be repaired. (Remember now, I own a jewelry store.) They bring in lawn ornaments, floor lamps, shoes, pocketbooks, statues, firearms, eyeglasses, picture frames, fishing rods and, on one occasion, an auto part for a Bentley.
On top of that, there has been an incoming rash of non-repairable costume and beaded adornments. (It would not be fair to call it jewelry.) The not exactly jewelry has my staff dreading every customer that enters clutching large zip-lock freezer bags stuffed with the drek. Don’t misunderstand me. If we can help, we will happily do a re-attach here or a tweak there; if possible, a weld, no problem, for a minimum charge. But don’t expect a professional goldsmith shop to spend hours on that stuff and not charge for the time it takes. My advice… If it’s broken, throw it away. It’s cheaper to buy two new ones than to get it repaired most the time.
Last week was the best. I waited on a summer customer. (Yeah, I was actually there!) She presented me with her gold bracelet in several pieces. It was an expensive repair. Refusing to pay the quoted price, she looked me right in the eye and said, “Can’t you just put it back together without repairing it?” HUH????
Next a “summer gentleman” was complaining I had “just” replaced a battery and it had stopped running. When I opened up the watch, (I date every battery I change), of course it had stopped running. It was two years old! I replaced it, and he refused to pay for a new one. Have a nice day, sir. This guy must complain at the gas station when his tank runs dry!
Then there were complaints about silver that tarnishes, rings that bend, and diamonds that fall out of rings when they take a spin in the garbage disposal. (Gaaaad! I know I must have some vicodin left over from my knee replacement.) I have a better idea. Maybe I’ll just leave early to make up for coming in late and go sailing. Bon Voyage!
Richard Alan is a designer /goldsmith and the owner of the Harbor Goldsmith and Richard’s Reef on Marco Island and welcomes your questions about “all that glitters” even if you are a “summer person” 239-394-9275 firstname.lastname@example.org.