Your Turn

SHOP COMPETITORS? ANOTHER VIEWPOINT

I am responding to your feature article “Shopping Competitors – Not a Dirty Game” in the March issue. In it, the writers try to justify going into another’s store to get information on sales practices and merchandise.

I’m not going to apologize for old- fashioned ideals and policies when I tell you that doing this is a form of theft. To justify this as a business practice is naïve and dishonest.

What right does a competitor have coming into a store taking your time and using your employees who could be doing something else such as waiting on a bonafide customer?

You assume everyone is looking to take advantage of another business by snatching up his or her ideas and then undercutting and using them as their own. What kind of a publication do you run to advocate such practices?

You take your ideas on such matters from specific jewelers who cannot make it on their own thoughts and ideas. These jewelers justify this practice and others, such as bad mouthing their competition.

Fortunately one day I will meet my maker never having done either and having stayed in business 45 years without any debts or obligations. We have conclaves and other ways to exchange ideas. Other ways such as you suggest are trespassing and theft and I’m sure I do not speak only for myself on this subject.

Martha Williams Ben Williams Jewelers Inc. El Paso, Tex.

Janice Mack replies: “The article was directed to jewelers who want to grow and develop their business. Its intent was to alert business owners and managers to the importance of knowing their own strengths and weaknesses relative to their competition. While we understand and value Mrs. Williams’ position, we don’t believe that jewelers should segregate themselves from any strategy that will help them be more successful and make our industry better overall. It’s hard to imagine how any of the benefits gained from competitive shopping could be perceived as damaging to other stores or to our industry. We understand Mrs. Williams’ concern over what she perceives as the misuse of sales associates’ time. However, a typical shopping experience does not take much time.

JAG speaks out

Received my JCK last night, and I almost fell out of my chair when I read your editorial “Honest, sort of…” I’m not trying to be rude, but my immediate response is “Where on Earth have you been?” Have you honestly not heard of JAG (Jeweler’s Advisory Group)? This grassroots group of industry professionals, all volunteers by the way, has been working for over two years on behalf of jewelers and consumers, dealing with deceptive advertising and fraudulent trade practices. It was begun because the JVC was seen as ineffective. That perception existed because the JVC was ineffective, and still is. The top dogs were taking home big paychecks while accomplishing almost nothing to deter fraud in our industry. Ask the JVC when the last time was that it prosecuted a case… any case. And, of course, the Board of Directors! Let’s see… QVC and Service Merchandise are industry watchdogs??? Give me a break!!

Why not report that Abe Shainberg has now taken a position with JAG… or why not report on the existence of JAG and its trained professional mediators, its small successes in dealing with deceptive advertising and fraudulent trade practices around the country?

Wayne Emery, speaking for myself, not for JAG

JCK will write about JAG in an upcoming issue.