After 15 years of running Max Marcus Goldsmith & Fine Jewelers in Newtown, Mass., Michelle Meltzer needed a break.
“I was just burnt out,” Meltzer tells JCK. “There’s only so long you can keep up such a pace six days a week.” So she left the business, content to watch her goldsmith husband, Alan, work in jewelry manufacturing, where he invented the Bead Ring, a sterling-silver bead and pendant line that allows customers to wear Trollbeads, Pandora, Chamilia charms interchangeably.
However, when she walked into a jewelry store that was going out of business in her hometown of Wayland, Mass., Meltzer had a feeling her eight-year hiatus from the industry about to an end. “It was just the cutest jewelry store I’ve ever seen,” says Meltzer. “My boys are older now, so I went for it.”
Meltzer, who is also a GIA certified gemologist, knew she would have an advantage because she’d be the only jewelry store in town. But she didn’t take that lightly—believing that jewelers in this economy needed to develop into full-service boutiques, offering everything from appraisals and repair work to fashion jewelry. “If you know what you’re doing, you can do really well right now,” she says.
On Aug. 1, Meltzer, officially opened Michelle’s Jewelry Boutique. “We’ve had eight custom jobs in three weeks,” She says. “Even in this economy, we’ve been getting no price resistance and people are trading in gold to go toward their custom jobs.”
The store also offers several fashion jewelry showcases—something she says would have been taboo in the industry a couple of years ago—along with sterling silver lines and higher-priced items.
Photos courtesy of Michelle Meltzer
Meltzer has shied away from doing glitzy television and print ads, opting for grassroots exposure within a supportive local community that loves being involved in the town’s affairs. She is planning several fundraisers and raffles, as well as a promotion that will donate 5 percent of the store’s income to the local middle and high schools during a certain period. “People appreciate when they get something back after they’ve invested in something,” she says. “Word of mouth is key for us.” She’s also planning a grand opening sale in September after everyone is back from vacation.
The the best part about returning to the business, she says, has been the interaction with her new customers. One couple came in looking to honor their recently deceased dog with custom rings with the pooch’s name inscribed on the outside and sentimental sayings engraved on the inside. Another customer’s story was even more poignant: “A woman came in looking to buy a pair of diamond earrings for her daughter,” Meltzer says. “When I asked her what she was celebrating, she told me that her daughter’s life had just been saved from a brain tumor. How great is that?”