NATIONAL JEWELER 15 Atthesametime,whereJCKisconcerned,LasVegashasgotten exponentiallymoreexpensive.Singerrecallsthatthepointofhavingthein- dustry’smajortradeshowinVegaswassopeoplewouldn’thavetopayNew Y orkprices.Now,VegashasbecomenearlyasexpensiveastheBigApple. As a result of these varied factors, the industry seems to be moving away from the idea of one big central show, toward a more curated, man- ageable trade show experience, Singer believes. Some vendors and retailers are scattering to smaller shows, others to the buying group shows, where many vendors feel they can get a better return on their investment and form relationships with the retailers. Retailers are getting the message, too: “It used to be a thing that we (the retailers) needed to beat up vendors on price,” Singer continues. “The war’s over. We have to have a relationship with our vendors. We have to partner with them. We have to have a relationship with our customers. We have to make it frictionless and easy. “Anybody who doesn’t embrace that is pretty much just going to go away.” In addition to these factors, retailers like having a close-knit group of similarly situated stores with whom to share best practices, which buying groups provide, Singer says. Rottenberg, of Long’s Jewelers, also noted the need for inde- pendent jewelers to share information, which he says is happening more these days. “We are talking much more openly. [In talking to retailers] outside of your market, there’s so much to gain from sharing, ‘Hey, this worked well,’” he says. “If we can learn from each other’s successes and failures, it’s so powerful.” In LJG, Singer says, members are embracing technology and an omnichannel approach, with a big emphasis on mobile, which is where most shopping today starts whether a consumer is looking for a cup of coffee or a piece of jewelry. Being in a buying group also helps Singer better compete, because he finds out new things that are coming down the pike earlier and he gets a jump on them, like many of the major players do. In short, buying groups can help both retailers and suppliers let go of old methods of business that are no longer working and avoid becoming irrelevant in a world where technology is changing every- thing, rapidly. “In the world of Uber and Lyft,” Singer concludes, “we don’t want to be the yellow cabs.” “In the world of Uber and Lyft, we [the independent jewelers] don’t want to be the yellow cabs.” —Steven Singer, Steven Singer Jewelers