The Fort Lauderdale store shines with specialized service and at-home atmosphere
1. How do you differentiate your store from the competition?
By providing great service and customization. We’re on a street with 20 to 30 clothing shops; every one of them carries jewelry. People think jewelers only compete with other jewelers. My other competition is art; there are a dozen art galleries on the street. A woman is going to spend disposable money on her kitchen, bathroom, or art. We do a lot of custom work. Women come to us for [jewelry designer] Mark Schneider, because no one else has anything similar in the area. But we always customize the pieces a bit. We recently did black diamonds on a ring. You can’t go to a Zales and have someone custom-work your engagement ring.
2. What advertisement promotions have elicited the biggest response, and why do you think they worked?
TheKnot.com works really well. Mark Schneider has ads on The Knot and we piggyback on that. We don’t do newspaper advertising, but we did do a lot of radio around the holidays. That seemed to work well. We also advertise in local society magazines, including Gold Coast. People come in all the time saying they saw our ads in those magazines.
3. What has been your most memorable sale?
One of the neatest thing we ever did was right at Christmastime one year: A 70-year-old man came in and told us he was getting married to a woman who was around 60. They bought a very expensive wedding band from us. One of our employees is able to marry people, and he tells the guy, “We can marry you right here in the store.” The guy thought that was the greatest thing in the world. They ended up having the ceremony with us and they took pictures with me holding a shotgun—like it was a shotgun wedding! He bought his wife a $15,000 sapphire bracelet as a wedding present.
4. When you walk through your door, what do you like most about your store?
We are [traditional], so we have chandeliers and old wall cases that have silver and estate jewelry in them. It makes you feel comfortable right away. There are tall ceilings and there’s muted music and no harsh light. I like to have more natural light. I always let customers take the diamond outside and look at it before they buy it. I think we’re different that way.
5. What ambitious goal do you have for your store?
We’re in a transition period right now where my sons are buying the store from me. I bought the store from my dad 20 years ago and wanted to change everything, and now my sons feel the same way. They want to go toward bridal more; historically we’ve been more of a bridal gift store. But we’re already taking steps to stock more engagement rings. Everybody worries about Blue Nile—the elephant in the room. But we can do things the elephant can’t. Can Blue Nile show you three diamonds at one time and let you go outside and look at them? Can they customize [finished] pieces? No. I watched my father sell 15 to 20 diamonds a day for years, and all the nuances of a diamond can’t be captured on a certificate. It’s what your eyes see that matters.