1. What has been your most memorable sale?
It wasn’t a big sale, but it was around when I got into the business 25 years ago. I was trying to absorb everything at that point, and I was reading a sales motivator–type book by Zig Zigler. It was full of very old-school techniques. He said if you’re having trouble closing a sale, pull out your ticket book and say, “I’m just going to start writing it up.” The next day I was working with a couple and I told them I was going to start writing up the order. I said, as I was writing, “How would you like to pay for this?” And they said, “Visa.” That was it. It was just one of those aha moments. Like, yes, if you do these things, they work.
2. What’s been your biggest challenge and what have you done to resolve it?
Dealing with stress and learning that the day is going to end and everything is going to be all right in the morning. Owning your own business—and knowing you have a staff whose livelihood you’re responsible for—can be stressful. I read that book The Four Agreements and it really helps me keep things in perspective.
3. What advertisement or promotion elicited the biggest response and why do you think it worked?
I’m a car fanatic and [legendary automotive designer] Carroll Shelby is huge for me. We did an event that had car art with a car show on the outside. We had everything from Lamborghinis to Aston Martins and Mustangs. We raised $3,900 for his charity [the Carroll Shelby Foundation] just through silent auction items. That evening tied everything together: the jewelry I love, the cars I love. And we did great sales, which was just a byproduct.
4. What is your single best money-saving initiative?
Thinking outside the box and not doing things the way the whole industry tells you to do them. We wanted our showcases made a certain way and all the companies said, “It can’t be done.” One of my customers said she could do it. We ended up with something that’s totally our look and it ended up being significantly less expensive. The Decatur store is only 5 years old, but we’ve revamped the Atlanta store at least five times in color and look and flooring…for virtually no money. I worked in a store once where the owner bought a ceiling for $100,000. It was beautiful. But it was a ceiling.
5. What’s the best idea you’ve ever come up with for your store?
Not accepting terms with vendors. Our industry is huge on “Let me deliver the merchandise now and pay me later.” I just can’t take that stress; I can’t sleep at night. We would rather come to a vendor with, “What can we save by paying you now?”
And I credit my wife, Geri Botnick, who co-owns the store with me, for talking me into opening the store in the first place. I had been working at another store and the owner told me he was selling it. Geri was pregnant and I started looking for jobs. She said, “What are you doing? For years you’ve been talking about doing something, so let’s just do it.” And it’s worked out just great.