A Tale of Two Jewelers

The current version of Jimmy Carter's malaise got me thinking about changes in the retail jewelry business over the past 30 years. My wife and I were discussing the current economic slowdown when she related a story about our daughter's recent shopping experience in two different jewelry stores near her home. The story has two points. First, jewelers may have become too focused on selling only jewelry. Second, a continuing focus on maintaining inventory positions on key products remains a problem. About 30 years ago jewelers began paring their assortments of products when tabletop companies got greedy and began expanding their distribution of what had been highly selective lines to retail stores that focused largely on price. By around 1985, jewelers had virtually abandoned non-jewelry gifts to focus on expanded—and more-profitable—jewelry assortments. As malls became more importan

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