Independents Forever

Much has been said the last few years about the declining number of jewelry operations in the United States, especially among independent jewelers. I noted Jewelers Board of Trade figures last month. Some take this to mean the days of the independents are over; that this industry will consolidate as so many other retail industries have. This view fails to consider some fundamental aspects of the evolution of jewelry retailing. People refer to the business as segmented, when the appropriate term might be stratified. Ask a person at Wal-Mart what's happening at Graff, and he will ask, “Who is Graff?” Ask someone at Graff about the latest merchandising at Wal-Mart and her eyes will glaze. It isn't just the demographic makeup that's different; it's the very nature of the products and services. They are in different businesses. Consider the central attribute of jewelry: endless vari

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