JCK readers call for unity and strength in response to terror attacks

During the past week we have received e-mails from persons in the industry who described how the recent events in New York and Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania have impacted them personally and professionally. We’ve included the responses below. If you would like to share your experiences and thoughts, please send your comments to ademarco@cahners.com.

Suddenly, what’s really important reveals itself

I received the phone call at 6:30 a.m. on Sep. 11, 2001, from my daughter-in-law telling me my son was okay. I didn’t know what she was talking about. She said something about two planes hitting the World Trade Center where the Stanley Morgan Dean Witter offices were. My son was in New York on business. I turned on the television and watched as America was attacked. What followed was a week of little sleep, many tears and my prayers joining the prayers of a jolted Nation knocked to its knees, but in no way knocked out.

We at Elizabeth’s Jewelry Box in Las Vegas, Nev., don’t know yet how this disaster has affected our wholesale business. We are very small in this large industry. We, like the rest of our country, may be slightly weakened but we will regain our strength and go on. What effect this disaster will have on the jewelry business as a whole is up to our attitude and the attitude of the leaders of the business, the Big Guys, so to speak. Just as the United States looked toward and anxiously awaited words from our President on Sept. 11, we little people of the jewelry industry wait for our industrial leaders to tell us, like a kind parent, “Everything is going to be okay. Don’t worry.”

People have been adorning themselves with jewelry of one kind or another since the beginning of recorded history. They aren’t going to stop now.

Millions of dollars may be lost but the attitude about the loss is what’s important. When things of this magnitude happen, like the shuffle of a deck of trick cards, your real priorities surface right up to the top of the deck. What is really important are love, family, friends, self, and your God. This is the foundation of you. All the rest is fluff.

My son is home now. I am one of the lucky ones.

Ginny Melton
Elizabeth’s Jewelry Box
Las Vegas, NV

Not giving up on American dream

I opened up my jewelry store (which offers pearl restringing and customized pearl jewelry) ten months ago and have been enjoying steady improvements every month. It is too soon to know how the terrorist attacks will affect my business at this point, but things have slowed down. The Thursday and Friday after the attack, I had no customers or phone calls, but this new week things seem a little better. I am hoping for a decent Christmas season to pull me through. It is especially difficult for a new business at this time, but I don’t plan on giving up. With extra hard work and lots of prayers, I hope my American dream will continue. God bless America!

Sheila Newton, Proprietress
From the Vault
Louisville, Ky. 40207

Standing tall with the U.S. during its time of need

I was stranded in New York and experienced the desolation and sadness that affected everyone in the city.

Links Of London staff members were stranded in various areas of the country and the inability of our staff to get home has caused us worry.

Our flagship store is situated in Manhattan on Madison Avenue and the mood within the city was somber and an unusual stillness on the streets has obviously affected our retail operations. People were out purchasing gifts on the Thursday afterwards and I hope that Links Of London gifts will bring back some smiles. We have spoken to many people at our retail operations and we share in their pain and their worries. We are reflecting what we as a company can do to help those affected directly by the outrage.

We planned to open our second store in Manhattan in early October. The opening may be postponed with the builders being transferred to help with the situation downtown.

This event will affect the jewelry industry if we let it. I wholeheartedly agree with both President Bush and Mayor Guilliani’s sentiments that the best thing that you could do is go out and spend money. Personally, I think that our price point and uniqueness within the marketplace will enable us to weather the storm. Indeed, our wholesale business will double this year and has probably benefited from the economic uncertainty prior to Tuesday’s events. I believe we can maintain our growth.

The U.S. should respond calmly and with certainty. We are all incensed by this action but we must be certain that we target the people responsible. I am pleased that Great Britain is standing by the USA in its time of need.

John Ayton
Chairman and Co-Founder
Links Of London

The disaster is on everyone’s mind

We are a retail jeweler, selling medium to better jewelry along with jewelry repairs, casting and creating with two locations in Anderson, S.C.

The desire for that extra gift for an anniversary or an adult’s birthday has certainly changed. Most people are waiting to buy. It seems as if everyone has this disaster foremost on their minds.

We hope our fall downturn will have a semi-revival during the Thanksgiving holidays but it’ll be far from previous years’ figures.

The destruction of the World Trade Center, the crash in Washington, and the general loss of lives has affected everyone. Our county administrator had a family friend who lost his life in the WTC.

My brother, who is a resident of New York and Connecticut, lost two friends who were attorneys in the WTC. They’ve been missing since September ll.

I really believe everyone in the free world has been touched by this disaster. It will take a very long time for our “free spirit” and feeling of security to return to our day-to-day lives.

Security in air travel will be restored. There will be an increase in traffic as businessmen almost have to fly. Pleasure flights will definitely decrease until this confidence is restored in the air traffic system.

Let’s just hope this is the last of any kind of strike against our country and the free world.

Phil Silverstein, President
PHIL Jewelers, Inc.
Anderson, S.C.

Time to unite

American’s must be willing to sacrifice all to end terrorism. That is what it means to be an American. We must as a United people stand with our President, regardless of personal, political or economic views.

Charles Eichhorn, Pres.
D.L. Romey Company
Decatur, Ind.

Making a bad business situation worse

The tragic incidents at the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon obviously further intensified consumers’ fear of spending. Gem and jewelry sales were much slower than last year and the barbaric act of terrorists in N.Y. and D.C. simply made matters worse.

I am a wholesale gemstone dealer. I sell finished semi-precious jewelry as well as rough gemstones in U.S. I have attended a number of shows and was disappointed that in some cases I could only cover the cost of booth fee. In addition, I was counting on the Denver Gem Show that was held last week. Along with many other dealers, I simply could not attend due to flight cancellations. In a nutshell, yes, I have been adversely affected like many other dealers within the U.S. and abroad who simply could not attend this show.

I also believe that in the light of such a national disaster, even if air travel had remained normal, business would still been affected. First of all, this tragedy psychologically, affected almost all Americans and took away the motivation to shop for anything. And it raises fears of war and further uncertainty in the already weak U.S. economy. I am sure there are many other dealers who are sharing the same view and have suffered financially.

Now I am thinking about working for someone else in order to support my family and forget about actively involving myself in gemstone business until consumers’ confidence is somewhat recovered. It has been this bad!

Thank you.

James Fazilat
North Hollywood, CA.

The attacks have affected business in the Caribbean

We have already started feeling the effects of fewer tourists this week. We had absolutely no tourists walk into our store yesterday (Mon., Sept. 17), which is almost unheard of.

Traffic today (Sept. 18) was not much better. There’s a cruise ship in town today, but there does not seem to be a lot of people around. We’ve seen maybe a half-dozen people during the whole day, most of who were just looking.

I believe a lot of people will cancel or postpone their travel plans over the next four to six weeks. If there is retaliation by the US government towards these attackers in the near future (two to four weeks), then very possibly, the American people will feel more at ease. This will probably encourage vacationers to renew or maintain their travel plans for the end of the year.

I also believe that if no retaliation is forthcoming in the next few weeks and this saga continues for a few months, then we will probably see a decline in business this winter season. Our main season runs from mid November to mid April so the timing of the response by the government may be critical to us.

Additionally, the effect these attacks will have on the economy is also a big question. If these attacks lead to more layoffs in the airline and other industries, this may result in a further fall of the stock market. When people see their portfolios shrinking, the first thing that they start cutting back on are the luxuries, and the jewelry industry would be one of the first to feel it.

Of course these are my personal view and they do sound pessimistic, even though I am not a pessimist. Let us all hope that I am wrong and that things will turn around and in a short time this whole thing is just a memory.

Sincerely yours,

Manu Budhrani
St Maarten, Dutch West Indies

Strength shown during crisis

As an operator of a jewellery business and reader of the Monday newsletter I need to express the following:

This message is just to say how sorry we all are for the recent massacre. No such human crime can be understood. No such pain can be shared enough. The United States is a great nation who’s strength is shown when crisis is at its most. It is an example to the entire world of civil sense and love for the nation.

I hope all loved lost people will find peace and be remembered in every one’s heart all over the world.

God help the USA!

Francesca Tenti
francescatenti@hotmail.com