All About Steve Ginsberg

For Cedar Rapids’ cozy Ginsberg Jewelers, home is where the sparkle is

1. What one advertisement elicited the biggest response and why did it work?

During the 1995–96 holiday season, we held a snow sale. If it snowed three inches or more on New Year’s Day, anyone that purchased jewelry between Black Friday and Christmas Eve would get the cost refunded. We filmed the commercial in October, using boxes of instant potato as snow. When the ad aired in mid-November, people got a real kick out of it. The promotion helped with Christmas sales, but excitement really started to build on January 1 with snow in the forecast. Official depths at the local airport reached about 2.5 to 2.75 inches of snow that day. We’ve run similar promotions since, but people still only talk about the first time in 1995.

2. What has been your most memorable sale?

A mother and daughter came in recently at the end of their ropes trying to buy an engagement ring. Early in the presentation I learned the young woman wanted to propose to her girlfriend. The sales presentation continued like any other: trying to find the best ring design that would convey her love for her partner. We [used] Stuller’s CounterSketch Studio and created the perfect custom ring…[that] incorporated some family heirloom diamonds. The two left very happy, but the mother returned while her daughter waited in the car. She thanked me because other stores didn’t make the ring-buying experience like that of other couples.

3. What was your finest hour in the realm of customer service?

A few years ago, a man purchased a pair of earrings for his wife, who would soon give birth to their second child. After he purchased a pair of $3,000 diamond earrings, the man said he’d be back the next morning to pick them up. He called late the next day to let me know his wife went into labor. I thought it would be a good idea to purchase a greeting card on the man’s behalf and hand-deliver them to the hospital so he could pre­sent the earrings to his wife that night.

4. What nightmare scenario did you turn around to save the day?

On Friday, June 13, 2008, the worst flood in recent history consumed downtown Cedar Rapids and neighboring areas. With finished jewelry, repairs, and custom pieces in the safe, miraculously there wasn’t a lot of damage to inventory and customer pieces. With computers at the house and ­jewelry recovered, we began getting back in business while building a new store. We did business whenever and wherever: at the house, door-to-door, the trunk of our cars, in high school parking lots—even out of my backpack, much like the progenitor of our family business did in 1888. Business has improved with increasingly higher annual sales ever since being forced out of downtown.

5. When you walk through your door, what do you like most about your store?

The flood that wiped out our old store gave me a chance to start fresh. With the new store, we wanted to convey a living-room look and feel. We didn’t want a focal service counter, but rather a home environment with a fireplace in the center of the store, along with a baby grand piano and love seats. High-­definition flat screens added some high-tech touches that kept with the traditional residential theme.