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Podcast: Plumb Club Moves with the Times

Alliance of jewelry suppliers is helping members trade all year round, and not just at the JCK show, says president Michael Lerche.

Nov 9, 2020 3:14 AM   By Joshua Freedman
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The pandemic and its impact on trade shows have forced the Plumb Club to help its members do business all year round, said president Michael Lerche.

The coalition of 43 jewelry suppliers has been inextricably linked to the JCK Las Vegas show since the club’s founding, Lerche explained in an interview on the Rapaport Diamond Podcast. With the 2020 fair canceled due to Covid-19 and the outlook for future shows uncertain, the Plumb Club has launched an online sales platform and loosened a long-standing requirement for companies to exhibit at the Plumb Club’s JCK pavilion as a condition of joining the organization.

“We hope that there will be a show in 2021, and we will be there with our pavilion and supporting it 100%,” Lerche says. “But we realize also that we have to be able to reach our customers 365 days a year.”

Companies can become members of the Plumb Club by joining the new TPC-365 platform without having to commit to participating in the annual pavilion, so long as they meet the club’s other rules, Lerche noted. This will enable them to interact with retailers virtually. Existing Plumb Club members must still attend the pavilion as usual, whenever the next JCK show takes place.

JCK organizers are “on board” with the move, which will not diminish the Plumb Club’s presence at the event, a spokesperson for the show said.

Listen to the podcast below:

Show notes

0:30 – What is the Plumb Club?

2:00 – How and why the club launched a virtual sales platform.

5:50 – The jewelry industry has come back strongly since the peak of the Covid-19 slowdown.

6:45 – How Plumb Club members fared during the height of the crisis. September and October saw year-on-year sales increases.

9:10 – Early on, independent jewelers were performing better than chains. But now, everyone’s seeing improvements.

10:00 – Retailers are being cautious taking on inventory ahead of the holidays.

12:35 – Engagement rings and anniversary bands are where the strength lies. Men’s jewelry is also doing well.

13:15 – Liquidity during the pandemic. Most retailers are paying on time now, after delays during the spring lockdowns. Banks have been understanding.

14:55 – How retailers are ensuring safety inside stores.

16:30 – Why the Plumb Club has collaborated with New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.

19:00 – How to become a member of the Plumb Club. Companies can now join via the new sales platform even if they do not exhibit at the Plumb Club pavilion at JCK Las Vegas — previously a requirement for membership. Trade shows are struggling. Is the new platform competing with JCK Virtual?

26:30 – The Plumb Club has published its own podcasts.

Images: Michael Lerche, the TPC-360 platform, and the Plumb Club pavilion at the 2019 JCK Las Vegas show. (The Plumb Club)
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Tags: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Exhibitions, JCK Las Vegas, Jewelry, Joshua Freedman, Michael Lerche, online sales, pandemic, Plumb Club, Podcast, Rapaport Diamond Podcast, retail, The Plumb Club, TPC-360, trade fairs, Trade Shows
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