Downtown Houghton Becomes New Destination For Michigan Jeweler

Laiti Jewelers of Houghton, Mich. said goodbye to Copper
Country Mall and moved downtown.  The
jeweler, who has been in business for 30 years, relocated its storefront to
Sheldon Ave. in downtown Houghton Oct. 15.

After noticing a traffic change during the recession, owner
Mark Butke decided the best way to increase sales was a relocation, not a
liquidation sale. “I stuck my neck out and bought a building. I renovated and
made the whole building brand new,” Butke tells JCK.  

During the economic downturnn Butke says his business took a
10 percent dip. He felt the mall location was hurting, not helping sales.
“Watching traffic patterns, I looked at strip malls and in downtowns,” Butke
says. “The greatest thing was to talk to customers. I went through two months
of polling customers, and asking what they thought of strip malls and downtown
Houghton.”

Nearly four weeks after the move, Butke says sales are up 20
percent. “It is great and I’m thankful for it,” he says. “I hope it continues
and the move will continue to be a good thing. There’s a lot more traffic
downtown.”

Butke put a lot of effort into recalibrating the new
location. In the past, Laiti has relied heavily on its gold inventory but Butke
cites the economy in inspiring him to incorporate more silver and alternative
metals in his inventory.

In addition, Butke changed the price point from $100 and up
retail to a $20 and up retail. “The big thing is you have to have something
for everybody. You really take yourself out of the market when you only cover a
certain kind of clientele.”  

The store has not had an official grand opening event, but
Butke says customer response has been positive. “When you put a new storefront
downtown and you jazz it up, it makes everyone excited.”