Second Time Around


Second Time Around

Pointers to help you capture your local share of the huge vintage watch market

A growing number of fine watch owners are looking for places to trade or sell their timepieces – often to trade up or buy another model. But many have no place to go locally – yet.

Perhaps your store could become such a location. Some retailers have learned in recent years it can pay to offer trade-in allowances to regular watch customers. Others go beyond trade-ins and seek out watch sellers or watch wholesalers to stock a newly created vintage watch department.

One such retailer, Govberg Watches & Fine Jewelry, Philadelphia, PA, did it with exceptional results. Govberg's vintage watch sales, begun only a few years ago, now comprise 14% of the $5 million annual sales volume at its downtown store. (Govberg is willing to help retailers interested in the vintage watch market.)

Despite the growing demand, far too few retail jewelers have entered the lucrative vintage watch market, says co-owner Danny Govberg. "As a result, too many consumers let an old watch sit in the drawer because they don't know where to sell or trade it," he says.

But these vintage watch enthusiasts do have some options, including flea markets, watch-only retail outlets and Internet sales and auction sites. In fact, strong demand for vintage watches on the Internet and satellite television shows is a clear sign consumers aren't finding what they need in jewelry stores, says Dan Gendron of Dan Gendron Horology, Grant's Pass, OR. "Why should a jeweler send customers to these outlets when the customers expect full service from the jewelers?" he asks. "Too often retailers have one bad experience with watch repair and decide to drop the entire business."

Gendron says his own experience proves that taking trade-ins can become a profit center (see the box for a half-dozen tips). "Any size jewelry store can sell vintage watches successfully," he says.

Govberg's, (215) 564-6141. Dan Gendron Horology, (541) 471-8547.

  Vintage Sales Suggestions

  1. Select one employee to learn the vintage market pricing structure.
  2. Customers will likely be your primary inventory source. Use direct mail or discuss your services with them while they're in the store.
  3. If you don't have your own watchmaker, work out repair/restoration, cleaning and delivery terms in advance with your watch repair contractor.
  4. Use the expertise of your watchmaker or repair contractor to advise you on specific timepieces. Many are familiar with quality used-watch sources.
  5. Create a separate showcase for the vintage watch department. Place it near the repair center if possible.
  6. Join the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute, (513) 367-9800 or; the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, (717) 684-8261 or; or your state watchmakers/clockmakers association. Attend their regional shows to meet sources, obtain watches and learn about the market.

– MT

– by Michael Thompson

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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