Switzerland to the Strip, Editor’s Letter, June 2013

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.… I’m referring, of course, to Baselworld (via Dickens). The Swiss luxury watch and jewelry fair, held late April to accommodate the major renovations designed to bring the Basel convention center into the space age, was a mixed bag on all counts.

New products were largely confined to line extensions—ho-hum. Logistically, the show seemed to suffer from an oversubscribed network that complicated Wi-Fi access for its 100,000 patrons. And the weather was maddening (sunny the first couple of days, followed by lots of dreary rain).

The good news is that jewelers attending this month’s JCK Las Vegas show can count on a polar-opposite experience compared with Baselworld, beginning with connectivity: “We have put in an extremely robust, high-density Wi-Fi system into the entire property,” says Martie Sparks, Mandalay Bay’s vice president of catering and convention services. “You could have 120,000 concurrent users at one time and it would not affect the system speed.”

Given that it’s (almost) always sunny in Vegas, that leaves the show’s selection of new products ripe for speculation. Turn to our A-to-Z guide to JCK Las Vegas to get your bearings and plot your show-time destinations.

If you subscribe to the philosophy espoused by the forward-thinking CEO of Signet, Michael Barnes, whom senior editor Rob Bates interviewed for this issue’s in-depth Q&A, you’ll want to scour the show in search of brands and proprietary lines. You also might take a page from Barnes’ playbook and expand with confidence into a new market. Our feature on opening a second location will give you a primer on what to consider before you commit your resources.

Basel was a mixed bag this year, but catching up with old friends, like the Rapaport Group’s Alissa Goren, made it all worthwhile.

Speaking of resources, contributor Phillip M. Perry’s cool-headed report on the Affordable Care Act is a must-read for store owners grappling with how to insure their employees.

The must-reads in this blockbuster issue, however, don’t end there. Our crime package by contributor Martha White—a collection of candid anecdotes from retailers who advise against keeping a gun in store, and 50 tips intended to help you avoid crimes or minimize the damage should they occur—couldn’t be timelier.

And for those of you who are unable to join us in Las Vegas, check out senior editor Jennifer Heebner’s report on the thriving online showroom space, where you can order all or part of your inventory online—sight unseen.

While I’ll always prefer real-world connections to virtual ones, there’s no denying the convenience of an online relationship in the information age—especially if you can’t make it to this year’s JCK. I’ll be tweeting updates from the show floor—follow me @vika22—that aim to provide a vicarious show experience worthy of the real thing.

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