JEWELRY AND PRICES
A circular recently issued by a Chicago jewelry firm points out the expense to fraternity members incident to royalties accruing to their fraternity offices on the sale of badges and fraternity jewelry, as well as the expense necessarily added to the cost of jewelry by the employment of a corps of salesmen.
Looking back over forty years or so of fraternity life, one traces the jewelry situation from its infancy, when each fraternity endeavored to secure some jeweler to make its badge at whatever price they could get it made for–through the following period when jewelers competed with each other extravagantly for the business of fraternities–up to the present, when the practice is almost universally the appointment of a single official fraternity jeweler.
Regarding the merits of these several methods one could scarcely argue in favor of the original one because the cost of the badge was extremely high, although its quality was, as a rule, far inferior to that now produced. There was also an entire absence of that which we are accustomed to call "service" on the part of the fraternity jeweler.
Through the second period, that of unlimited competition, the experience of all fraternities was practically identical, viz., while there was nominal competition, so far as the fraternity members were concerned, the competition seemed to be almost exclusively centered upon the maximum price which a fraternity jeweler could induce a fraternity member to part with for an inferior piece of goods. We should certainly hate to return to that period of "unlimited competition." As an example of the extravagances and excessive profiteering, it may be pointed out that the Kappa Sigma badge which sold for about $12 when the various jewelers were competing with one another was immediately contracted for by Kappa Sigma in 1913 at a price of $6.50, and is sold under our present contract for $5.50. This reduction was secured solely through the limitation of "competition" by the appointment of a sole official jeweler, and in spite of the "extravagance" of the service resulting from the employment of a corps of salesmen.
Kappa Sigma has never said to its members that they must buy solely of the official jeweler. Kappa Sigma has only told its members that the official jeweler makes a badge of specified quality, which specifications we examine with each renewal of contract. Other jewelers are privileged, being non-official and not under contract to the fraternity, to make jewelry on any specifications which they themselves stipulate, not necessarily on those which the fraternity stipulates. We have, therefore, no assurance that their product is up to our standards, and we surely anticipate that it will seldom, if ever, excel our standards. Competing jewelers have not yet been able to meet the standards and prices which the "official jeweler" places on Kappa Sigma jewelry, with the result that very close to 100 per cent. of Kappa Sigma badges are voluntarily purchased from the official jeweler. This has.been the case for some years past.
Kappa Sigma insists that every penny of the reduction of costs obtained by the employment of an official jeweler be returned to the consumer by means of the reduced price which he pays for the goods. Not one penny has ever been paid to the fraternity or to any other person in the way of royalty or other rebate.
The elimination of the salesman is an end much to be desired by every one concerned; by the manufacturing jeweler, because he is one of the largest items of expense; by the consumer, because he forms the major portion of the overhead expense which must be tacked on to the price of his badge, and by fraternity officers, because–perhaps the less said about traveling salesmen the better! A firm now endeavoring to enter the field proposes to replace the salesman by a mail order business. We certainly wish them success. We hope some one will show how to eliminate the salesman and still replace him by a satisfactory substitute. One must not forget, however, that it costs money to sell goods by mail. Kappa Sigma recently circularized its members with a view to increasing the subscriptions to the Caduceus. The expense of one circular and its mailing amounted to approximately $1,000 The increase in the number of subscriptions was a little short of paying the bill, though, of course, renewals will prove the campaign a success.
Mail ordering is expensive salesmanship and is devoid of service. To the alumnus neither salesman nor mail order gives really effective service, though the expense of mail order business to the chapters is lower than to individual alumni.
We await with interest the success which will be attained. by a mail order fraternity jewelry house. At the same time we advise Kappa Sigma to examine carefully the standard of quality, as well as the prices, of any goods presented to them in this way.
Source: Caduceus - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - Kappa Sigma Fraternity - 1922