Pockets for Profit

May 1998

Timepieces:News

Pockets for Profit

Set up a consignment business for American pocket watches and watch profits soar

If you know the Bunn Special, you're likely reaping profits from a "vintage" pocket watch department. A Bunn Special is a pocket watch made between 1890 and about 1927 by a company that has become better known for restaurant supplies.

Today, Bunn pocket watches aren't as well-known as Bunn coffeemakers, but they join Waltham, Elgin and Hamilton as highly sought-after American-made pocket watches.

Jewelers can develop a low-inventory, high-margin American pocket watch business in just a few weeks, says Dan Gendron, a master watchmaker and owner of Dan Gendron Horology, Grants Pass, OR. He suggests these steps:

  1. Place advertisements in newspaper classified sections under the appropriate jewelry, antiques or "want to buy" sections. Sunday ads are best. "Don't include your telephone number – let them come in to your store," he says. These ads will become your inventory source.
  2. Make consignment deals at your own price and create a list of available watches. Buy several nice pieces outright for display. Often, collectors prefer to consign a full collection to a reputable local jeweler rather than sell at a single low price to an antiques dealer without the service or expertise.
  3. Work with your watchmaker or a watch service center to refurbish the pieces you deem salable (ask the watchmaker for his or her advice). Use other watches for parts. Be sure your salespeople can answer questions about any models on display – or pass them on to your watchmaker quickly.
  4. Price pocket watches at triple keystone or more. This is normal for items that sell for less than $500.
  5. Join the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute (513-367-9800) and the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (717-684-8261). Both are valuable information sources. You also can receive door stickers or wall certificates that might pique the interest of buyers.

Gendron, who is also the chief watchmaker for Hart Jewelers in Grants Pass, OR, says too often retail jewelers "give away" vintage American pocket watch sales to flea markets, pawn shops, antique stores or TV shopping networks. "Jewelers can do so much more with their watch departments than sell the same thing as the store down the street," he says.

by Michael Thompson





Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


 

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