Back in the mid-seventies, after having cut off the hippie hair and decided that I was, indeed, a goldsmith, I had reason to enter Ben Moss Jewellers in Winnipeg. This was before I had discovered the concept of profit when pricing the stuff I was making, and I was buying chains at retail and selling them, at a loss, to my customers. This is still, somewhat, the story of my life, so it is with some regret that I think back to the job offer I received from Sid Trepel.
Sid was, as I learned later, not just a salesman or store manager, but the CEO of the whole shebang. His father-in-law, Ben Moss, had started the business in Winnipeg in 1910 and Sid took over in the late 'fifties. He was in the process of expanding the business and, for some reason, had set his sights on me. Problem is, he wanted a sales person and I am most emphatically not one of those, but now I realize that I may have missed an opportunity to learn more about, you know, business.
Ben Moss, the business entity, and I parted company from there on as I pursued making jewellery for people, rather than the masses. I often wonder whether a little bit of discipline and knowledge of the inner workings of the retail industry would have changed the way I do business for the better, or to the detriment of the kind of work I do.
I've never thought of myself as competing with retail jewellers, although what they do definitely affects the way I need to work. The fashion changes over the years, from white to yellow gold and back again, the swing from practical to flashy, bulky to delicate, have meant that my people developed different needs, to which I have had to respond.
Ben Moss Jewellers tried to respond to their customers in their own way, but the great toll of competition finally beat them and they are closing their doors after a hundred and six years. I just wanted to say thanks for the chance, Sid.
I'm still standing.