Pockets for Profit
Set up a consignment business for American pocket watches and watch
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
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
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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Price pocket watches at triple keystone or more. This is normal for
items that sell for less than $500.
- 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.