Report by ICA Ambassador to Canada 02/21

ICA Ambassador Reports,

Report by ICA Ambassador to Canada 02/21

By Martin Lavoie

Dear ICA members,

In Canada, we are experiencing so many different situations. In Ontario and Quebec, all stores were closed from December 24th until January 8th . (Even longer in Toronto). But in the rest of the country, things were a little more "normal." People here tend to listen to the government rules, including an evening curfew after 8 PM. Cases of COVID are finally going down. However, vaccinations are slow, so we have to deal with that.

Fortunately, we still see business going well. For the same reasons as before; People are working from home, no travelling, no restaurants open, etc.…

Our company doesn’t suffer from not going to trade shows. We have amazing suppliers sending parcels of gemstones that we can look at. We return some gemstones, but often we even have the opportunity to keep many on consignment, for a long period of time. This practice has actually had a great positive impact on our business model. Our cash flow is much better because we buy in a much better way. Trade shows are good for exhibitors to discover new customers. They are good for buyers to get the pulse of the trade prices, learn about labs, and gemstone treatments, and network with people from all over the world. But sometimes as gem buyers we buy too much - that's a negative point.

We don’t travel on selling trips to all major Canadian cities as much as we used to, but we do ship on consignment every day with a very good success ratio of around 80%. When things are better, it will be a pleasure to see our clients in person once again. Human relationships are so important in this business. But we might only go once a year now, instead of twice a year.

As for retail stores in Canada, people are very creative. One of our clients was meeting her
customer, she in her studio and the customer outside the store talking on their phone through the
window, showing gemstones and discussing the project. In winter! But with a coffee. Amazing!
People are doing appointments one-on-one if possible, with zoom, on the phone, and sending
images by email.

We’ve heard a lot of our clients telling us about re-thinking their business model, and how the future
can be better in terms of sales and business mission, taking the time to THINK.

We also took the time to think about reorienting our stock needs. We’ve also created a web site
to sell our overstock and close-outs. This money is just sleeping in our office. And who knows what
the future will look like? It's always good to be one step ahead.

I also think that no matter what, you must always give fast and excellent service. Nothing will beat that.

As for business tools, I don’t know how we could go through this unbelievable time without the Internet, Instagram, and all of the existing technology!

And FedEx of course! 😊