Professional Insider:In The Industry
Independents Get Mass Appeal
Buyers group offers small jewelers big-time advantages
Now in its eighth year, the R&C Group consists of some 85 independent
jewelers who work with 11 New York City manufacturers. About 40 to 45 members
travel to the Big Apple in March and July to visit vendors who show their
merchandise at a midtown hotel for four days.
Texas jewelers Ronnie Pagel and Corky Matthew, who started the group
and formed R&C Jewelry Inventory Control Consultants, say the arrangement
benefits vendors and retailers. "The vendor gets to see dozens of jewelers
in a few days without having to go anywhere," says Pagel. "Moreover,
our retailers are prescreened. We perform comprehensive checks to determine
payment history and boot out jewelers who don't pay their bills."
Prakash Metita, president of Interings, a jewelry manufacturer, was one
of the first vendors to work with the R&C Group. "It's a great
concept," says Metita. "It's a wonderful way for a manufacturer
to develop a client base."
Retailers get tens of thousands of dollars in inventory without a huge outlay
of cash, says Pagel. Vendors offer a 50/50 deal. "Let's say a jeweler
picks out $50,000 in merchandise; he's obliged to buy at least $25,000 within
the year it's on memo," says Pagel. "What he doesn't sell beyond
that, he trades in for other goods."
The R&C Group isn't the only one of its kind. Some R&C vendors
also work with other groups, including the Continental Buying Group, Independent
Jewelers Organization, South East Wholesale Buying Group and Retail Jewelers
Organization. But Pagel says the R&C group is unique. "There are
no dues or spending minimums, and you're not required to buy from all or
even a percentage of the vendors," he says. "The suppliers we
work with offer memo goods for fair market value. You pay for what you sell
when you sell it. Memo programs run for a year. They even offer returns
without penalty. Most of our jewelers report sales increases of 20% to 50%
because of their expanded inventory."
Inventory, Sales Increase
Gerry Meyers, owner of Meyers Jewelers, Lubbock, TX, says she was skeptical
at first. "We sell a lot of high-end lines; I didn't think this group
could benefit me. It all sounded too good to be true." But Matthew,
who knew Meyers for years, convinced her to attend a buying trip. "It
was the best thing I've ever done," she says. "It has increased
our inventory three times and our sales more than 40%. It loosened up my
thinking to try a lot of different jewelry. And since I don't have all my
money tied up in inventory, I'm able to do more in my store."
Matthew says he and Pagel will limit the group to no more than 150 jewelers.
And the group will add only vendors that don't duplicate current ones, though
some overlap is inevitable. Participants now include manufacturers of better-quality
promotional jewelry, midrange to high-end gem-set and diamond jewelry, lapis
and jade jewelry, semimounts and closeouts. "We'd like to have every
aspect a jewelry store needs represented," says Pagel.
by Deborah Yonick
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.