JCK Orlando Show

The JCK Orlando Show attracted 4,288 buyers in spite of its unusually early timing of Jan. 18 to 20. With many jewelers coming off a strong holiday selling season, the mood of the show was upbeat.

Exhibitors catering to chain stores and mass merchandisers said they were satisfied that most majors attended the show and were interested in doing business. Independent jewelers came mainly from Florida and other southeastern states, though quite a few traveled from the Northeast and Midwest. The show also drew a significant number of foreign buyers from more than 30 countries. Reflecting the Florida location, many of these were from Central and South America.

The show’s conference program, which started on Jan. 17 and continued for the next two days, was a popular attraction. The Touch the Future element, which featured 24 “learning stations” where buyers met face-to-face with various experts to discuss new and coming developments in retailing, creativity and gemology, enjoyed a highly successful second year. Topics covered everything from staff recruiting to electronic diamond bourses to gem photography to gemstone fracture filling. Close to 1,000 jewelers visited the exhibit over the three days it was open.

On the social side, JCK and a number of industry sponsors hosted a well-attended “Flight of Fancy” welcome party on Saturday, Jan. 17. The previous day’s JCK Golf Classic Outing drew a good turnout.

Show management announced that the 1999 show will once again be held in Orlando. Exact dates are not yet known, but it will be in the week of Feb. 7. The JCK 1998 Las Vegas Show and Conference is being held June 3 through 9, with the show opening on June 5. The 1999 Las Vegas event will be held June 2 through 8 with the show opening on June 4.

In another show-related issue, members of the Plumb Club – important exhibitors at both Orlando and Las Vegas – voted not to join an effort to start another new show, reportedly being planned for either Chicago or New York in May 1999. After the Plumb Club voted not to back the proposed new show, reportedly by a 2-to-1 margin, the idea apparently was dropped, at least for now.

Exhibitor reaction. The spring-like weather seemed to underline the generally warm feeling expressed by exhibitors in Orlando. “It’s been a very busy show for us,” reported Laurence Grunstein, president of Citizen Watch Co. of America. “Every major retailer is here.” Michael O’Connor, director of corporate marketing for Frederick Goldman Inc., said he was well pleased with buyer response. Andy Kroungold, eastern regional sales manager for Swest, was among those praising the show staff for a smoothly-run event. The only recurring concern: exhibitors would like to see more independent stores at the show. JCK has committed to an extensive promotion effort to improve attendance at the 1999 show.

Buyers who made the trip to Orlando said they liked the show, and many placed orders. Sissy Jones of Sissy’s Log Cabin in Pine Bluff, Ark., said she signed on with a number of important new vendors. Frank Maier of Maier & Berkele in Atlanta liked the range of exhibitors “in a very pleasant atmosphere.” And Lee Berg of Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry in Baton Rouge, La., called Orlando “an easy show to work. I’m enjoying it very much.” The only general complaint: the shuttle bus service linking Orlando’s spread-out hotels and the convention center needs improvement.

What was new. Design seemed to be in a “holding pattern” for spring, relatively unchanged from the major trends seen last summer. Though designers and manufacturers did offer selected new pieces, most followed the same general themes by being either delicate, feminine and diminutive, or big, bold and statement-making. White metals, diamonds and pearls remained popular. A possible “product to watch,” seen at two or three booths, was polished white gold omega chains.

In watches, titanium, steel, retro shapes and splashes of color looked right for spring. Trends were scarce, but business brisk. Swiss Air Force watches ($495 to $2,000 retail) were new from the maker of Swiss Army Brand watches. SMH offered Lanco, a classic-styled mass merchant watch line ($13-$20). New from Spain were Gago Eye Watches – artsy timepieces inspired by the human iris – and Calypso, a diverse and colorful lifestyle line retailing from $39 to $125.

Learning opportunities. The pre-show Saturday offered a packed education program. Among the highlights: a provocative presentation on “putting romance back in the sale” by Samuel A. Getz, CEO and president of Mayor’s Jewelers, and Jay G. Lell, the company’s director of training and development; a fact-filled talk on getting year-long publicity by Gary Gordon of Samuel Gordon Jewelers in Oklahoma City; two sessions on developing business through the Internet; and an entertaining – and informative – session on being a “personal jeweler to the affluent” by John Redmond of the Redmond Corp. in Greenville, S.C.

The program continued on Sunday and Monday with Laura Laaman of Executive Training Consultants in Rochester, N.Y., arousing a capacity audience with a talk on “creating your super sales team for the year 2000” and a new look at the moneyed classes by William Danko, co-author of The Millionaire Next Door, a book that has just completed one full year on the New York Times’s best-seller list.

JCK’S PARENT PROMISES RICH INDUSTRY HELP

Reed-Elsevier Inc., parent company of JCK magazine and the JCK International Jewelry Shows, announced in Orlando the establishment of a jewelry industry fund. The company will contribute $400,000 annually, starting in 1999, to finance various industry needs. Decisions on how the money is distributed will be determined by a group comprised of representatives of jewelry manufacturers and retailers and representatives from the JCK organization. The names of those who’ll serve on the committee will be announced later.

“Our company is dedicated to the welfare of the jewelry industry,” explained Dennis MacDonald, senior vice president for Reed Exhibition Companies. Added Rick Bay, publisher of JCK: “We felt this would be the best way to put something back in our industry, which has contributed [so much] to the growth and success of JCK and its shows.”