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Guest Editor: Mark Motes, Albert Smyth Jewelers
How to Make the Most of Today's Gold Buying Opportunity

Retailing is usually about selling fine jewelry. But one of the success stories here at Albert Smyth the last year has been about buying—gold and other precious metals.

We have been buying gold and silver for about 20 years, but more heavily for the last 16 months. It has grown from one location, our Timonium store, to six or more at the current time.

While there have been many TV commercials promoting selling jewelry by mail or on-line, we have found that clients really want to deal with a business they know and trust. As gold prices increased, we saw a rise in the number of customers coming in to our stores to sell off their old karat gold jewelry, sterling silver, and platinum.

In response, we increased our advertising on the radio and local newspapers and also e-mailed all our current customers. The most effective promotion seems to be radio and e-mails.

The state of Maryland requires a lot of paperwork that has to be processed when buying precious metals, so it is very important to be aware of state laws governing this. While we are required to hold the jewelry we buy for 18 days, we go ahead and give a check to our clients when they sell their old jewelry. We offer them 20 percent more for their money if they apply the amount to a store credit. This is something our sales associates have encouraged with customers, too. In this economy, our sales associates know that this is a successful way to do business and a good opportunity to receive a bonus. About 20 percent of the clients spend their newfound dollars in our store.

Now we have expanded the program beyond our doors. We determine a location, usually a vacant store front in a mall, and start with a three day weekend. If response is good we expand from there. Fortunately, the brand identity of Albert Smyth has been reinforced over the years through our advertising and reputation.

We find that when we went outside of our sphere of influence—where our advertising reaches—we had less response. The potential clients weren’t familiar with our name. But in areas where our advertising reaches, even three hours away at a mall at the beach, we had a strong response. I think many of these clients might never have even been in our showrooms, but they knew our name and longevity in the region so they trusted us.

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Mark Motes
Mark Motes