Much like a jeweler, I find that the best part of my day is spent interacting with people. However, instead of customers, I get to make friends with retailers across the country.
Jonathan Green, co-proprietor of AAA Gold & Jewelry in Plant City, Fla., has been one of my go-to retailers whenever I need insights into a story I’m writing. He’s a key player in the next generation of jewelers, so I constantly pick his brain on his thoughts and ideas regarding the industry.
After annoying him to the point of madness, I finally got him to take a break from the bench to fill me in on how he broke into the business.
(Photos courtesy of Jonathan Green)
JCK: Tell me a little bit about your store’s history.
Jonathan Green: My father, John Green, started the store in Haverhill, Mass., in the late 1970s. It was mainly a coin and collectable store. In the 1980s, he developed the store into a full service jewelry, coin, and collectable/hobby store. During that decade, the store moved around to larger locations and my father set the foundation for our current business model. Around 1992, our family permanently moved to our vacation home in Central Florida. The business came with us. My father wanted a smaller location, but not without offering most of the same services.
I’ve been around the store for most of my life. I always enjoyed watching my father work. When I was about 10 years old, I would change watch batteries and jump rings and perform other simple repairs. I actually started working on jewelry and doing repairs on gold around 14, and then progressed from there. When I graduated high school in 2008, I began working full time. I got even more involved in everything and expanded my education and skill in the trade, which I hope to be in for the rest of my life.
Green with his father
JCK: Where is the store located now?
JG: We moved the store to Plant City, Fla., just a county over from our old location. We also changed the name to AAA Gold & Jewelry. Plant City it isn’t so much a big city compared to most, but I call it a large town.
Many of the original families still reside here, and have inherited some nice old pocket watches. This is an old railroad town, so the repair and restoration of these old railroad watches became a large part of our business, because we are the only company in the local area that does this form of work.
This town is a pretty tight-knit group. Everyone knows everyone, and when you start getting a good reputation it spreads quickly, which is good for business and building good relationships.
JCK: Tell me about some popular items—now and then.
JG: In the 1990s and early 2000s, coin collecting was pretty popular in our former location. Along with coins, we offered gold and diamond jewelry, silver, watches, as well as repairs on jewelry and watches, and any design and custom work a customer may have wanted.
The coin portion of our business eventually got phased out completely. Interests and markets were changing, and the precious metals weren’t that high at the time, which in turn was good for our gold jewelry sales. This past year, we reintroduced coins into our business, because of a small calling in our new area.
JCK: What’s the secret to your store’s success?
JG: Wouldn’t be much of a secret if I told you, now, would it? But in all seriousness, there is no secret. Offer the best services and experience for the customer, at a price that’s fair to both. Most people understand you need to make money to stay open, but in the same respect they don’t want to be taken.
JCK: What kind of presence do you have on social media?
JG: We are on Facebook pretty regularly. We are still pretty new to it and we’re learning to harness it more and more as time goes on. I don’t think it’s brought me more sales, but it’s a good way to keep my current customers updated on new products and deals, as well as the occasional promotion.
The store’s main show room.
JCK: What’s been your memorable customer experience/sale?
JG: The best memories happen when I craft a piece of jewelry for someone—it goes from an idea to reality—and then seeing the customer’s reaction when they love it is fun.
One of my dad’s first sales was this 1874 gold dollar. After the man who bought it died, his wife found my dad and gave it back. He soldered a chain around it for a bezel and put it on an 18 karat curb chain. My father wore it every day until he gave it to me after the first year I ran the store. I wear this coin every day now as a good-luck charm because it’s essentially the item that started this business.
JCK: What are your thoughts on the overall jewelry industry?
JG: For centuries, jewelry was—and, for the most part, still is—a very traditional trade, and that’s one thing I like about it. CAD/CAM introduction into the business has been a pretty big step with technology, but in the same respect if it gets too easy, then where is the art in it?