You know I’m not one to vent. (Yah right!) With the 2016 season slowly coming to a climax, I’m still trying to find the time to reflect on the past months…Mamma Mia! Words can’t describe what just happened, what just happened? I feel like I just did 10 rounds with Mike Tyson! For me the madness started in the first week of December and from there grew to epic proportions like a snowball rolling down a ski slope (for those of you not familiar with snow, it’s kind of like the crushed ice in that margarita you’re enjoying right now!).
Need more proof? Next time you are in your favorite restaurant, (yes, you can most likely get in without a reservation right about now), once settled in with your favorite cocktail, really look at the faces of your bartender, waiter or waitress and if possible the owners of the establishment, their burned out and exhausted expressions say it all.
It was a busy one, the best in years I’ve heard. Was it just me or did the congested and wandering masses seem really needy this year? Hey, I know most island business owners do more than bend over backwards to please folks, but this year it seemed to me many requests required a gift wrapped delivery by a trained dancing bear juggling on roller skates attired in a pink tutu. Or I showed them the door. On a good note, overall numbers of mandatory escorts to the door were down this year 89%. Are people getting nicer or are they beginning to fear me?
Bottom line…You can’t please all the people all the time. And most island business people are not complaining about the other bottom line either, namely the black one that used to be red.
I have said over and over nothing good gets done quickly, and that rings true in most crafts, a goldsmith shop is no exception. My son and I, and my sales staff, had to deal with more “rush” work and “Why can’t you do it now?” orders than I can remember. Andrew and I spent many long nights and did what we could for those lost souls with their last minute Christmas and Valentine’s Day shopping gifts, but some requests were downright impossible. At times it felt like a Mickey D’s jewelry drive-thru.
Only last week someone came in the shop twenty minutes before we closed and asked if I would make two custom-made pieces of jewelry by 10 AM the next morning, because that’s when she was leaving to go back home. There was a time long, long ago when I was a young man and if the money was right I would take that challenge and stay up all night and morning and complete that order. But this is now, I’m older, wiser and tired as hell and not desperate for money, and mind you I’m still riding on the tail end of this season and one stick away from the proverbial camel’s back. The one thing that keeps me going is come September I will enjoy being confined to a nice quiet oceanfront villa, sipping on sangrias in Mallorca, Spain. Sorry, you lost me in Mallorca for a moment there. My answer to Miss Musthavitnow was, “Sorry it’s not possible, maybe next year.”
But what I was really thinking to say was, “You have a better chance of taking the new Marco bridge home with you as a souvenir, so the jewelry you want me to create for the AM tomorrow is not gonna happen! And by the way, what kind of meds are you on? Oh, maybe next year and have a safe trip home!”
On a typical Wednesday late afternoon, it’s mind boggling how many people will leave a repair, after we tell them right then and there it will be completed in a week’s time (or sooner if the repair is not too complicated or time consuming), and we occasionally hear a dissatisfied groan, “That long? It’s a simple thing and if I had the tools I could do it myself!” (I’m thinking yeah, if I had the tools I could perform the lobotomy on me I always wanted!)
You’re standing in a gratefully busy jewelry store with a state-of-the-art goldsmith’s shop on the premises. We are not an “in by 10, out by 2” dry-cleaning business. The customer is then informed if the repair is needed sooner we have a same day express service for an additional charge. “What, pay more money?” Now what happens is an amazing reversal of priorities. I’m now told to “take my time,” they are in no hurry. Guess what? They will call 48 hours later to see if the repair they left Wednesday is now ready on Friday because they forgot to inform me they are leaving on Saturday. So we grin and bear it. It happens every year late in the season. Our shop is still really busy with a gaggle of last minute “gimme sales,” elaborate custom work, and all kinds of repairs from the still roosting snow birds that have not quite left yet.
Now in case that is not enough, the hibernating locals are emerging from their homes like Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog thinking the madness is over, and so they figure I’m not busy. So now I hear more disappointed huffing and puffing only with a local twist. We try to please everyone, we really do…especially the ones who appreciate it, they make all this possible. And remember, appreciation is a two-way street. Want things done quickly? Try coming in June, July and August when it finally slows down. Please don‘t wait until September – we will be closed for vacation most of the month. Adios amigos, until next time.
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. 239-394-9275 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his informative website at www.harborgoldsmith.com