Monday, April 19, 2021

The Perfect Customer


No Zuni on Marco-runi! Submitted Photo

No Zuni on Marco-runi! Submitted Photo

For those of you who own or work in a busy retail business, the perfect customer can sometimes be few and far between, but I know for a fact they actually do exist.

It’s a fact of life that not all folks are perfect and a joy to do business with. I still cringe when certain individuals enter my establishment. Considering everything, however, over the past 25 years I have been truly blessed with mostly really nice clientele.

I spent seventeen years at my Front Street location, a place where I did not feel so blessed. I swear, between the twenty-foot roof top radio antenna that I assumed was connected to nothing (it must have been connected to the parallel planet Zubar from another galaxy), there was also the probability the building was built on top of an old Calusa Indian burial ground. There had to be something that attracted some real weird and impossible to deal with people.



Many times I could blame it on the full moon when the really special people would come out of the mangroves or barrier islands. Then again, I can’t forget the brigade of individuals that monsoons, heavy wind and rain, or near-hurricane conditions could also bring out, when most normal people would stay indoors.

It usually begins with questions. Oh yes, the questions!

Them: “How much will you charge me to replace the diamond that fell out of my ring?”

Me: Can I see the ring?

Them: “I don’t have it with me, it’s up North!”

Me: A little hard to give you a price unless I see the size and quality of the diamond and why it fell out of your setting.

Them: “Well darn it, I asked you a simple question! How much?”

This conversation would go on for eternity, only if I let it, so I tell them $1,000.

Them: “It’s only a little one, why so much?”

Me: To tell you the truth I only guessed. I didn’t realize it was a little one, they are less money. Tell you what, here’s my card. When you get home call me, and hold it close to the phone so I can see it and then I can give you a more accurate price! Thank you… Have a nice day!

They stood there dumbfounded for a short time until they finally left in their space ship.

Next in, I have a gentleman roll in with a brass floor lamp in a Publix shopping carriage asking if I buy gold. After I assured him unless his departed ancestor was King Louis the 14th, I doubted the lamp in question was made of solid gold. For twenty minutes he argued I was wrong. It was from the 1950s, it has to be gold!

The all-time best worst customer was a simple inexpensive chain repair on a name tag necklace. Let’s say it spelled “Mary.” A year’s worth of numerous phone calls notifying Mary that her necklace was ready and could you please come pick it up came to no avail. I personally spoke to her on several occasions. Two years later she made an appearance. Now get this… her first name, last name and phone number is on the repair envelope and necklace spells “Mary.” The Mary standing in front of me claimed it was not her piece of jewelry and would I please stop calling her about the matter. She then turned, left it on the counter and walked out.

NOT YOURS? Really? Now color me dumbfounded!

Moments later, in walks one of my perfect customers.

Them: “How much are those beautiful diamond earrings in the window?”

Me: Those are two carats total weight, positively stunning quality … $8,500 plus tax.

Them: “Thank you I’ll take them. Can you gift wrap them?”

Me: Certainly. Is that cash or charge?

That single sale took three minutes, he did not even ask for a discount, or drive me insane for days or weeks on end due to buyer uncertainty, or the usual, “I’m just shopping around” while spending two hours looking at everything in the store. Even better, I didn’t have to listen to, “Gee I saw them cheaper on the internet!” I also know they will stay sold because his wife is a regular customer and cherishes anything he buys for her here.

My basking in the glow of a nice sale comes to a screeching halt when I am confronted with a couple who seem to be quite perturbed with me telling them to “Go West” (Scottsdale, Arizona to be exact!) when they wanted to see my nonexistent selection of American Indian turquoise jewelry. (Why don’t I have single piece of Indian silver jewelry in the shop? That’s only the second request in 25 years, that’s why!) Requests for solid gold cuff links are another of my favorites. What for — short sleeve golf shirts?

My day with the door open to the public is finally nearing an end, when I can lock the door, turn off the lights, work at my bench, ignore the phone, listen to my kind of music, and concentrate on the piles of work I have to push out.

My last challenge of the day is from a customer who can’t understand why all her gemstones have fallen out of her new pendant. I take my trusty jeweler’s loupe and under close scrutiny I realize I can solve this mystery in seconds.

Me: Madam, you were wearing the pendant backwards. Problem solved no charge.

As I lock the door I realize how much I love my perfect customers, especially the one who gifted me that Christmas bottle of Johnny Walker Double Black.

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith located at the what-seems-like a never-ending construction project, “The Island Plaza.” I welcome the perfect and not so perfect to ask any questions about All That Glitters. Phone 239-394-9275 or

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