Arkansas Jeweler Kelly Newton’s Secret to Success: Educate Customers Instead of Selling Them

A hands-off approach does more than just keep the crystal fingerprint-free

1. What has been your most memorable sale?

We had a man call one day who had seen a 6.5 ct. marquise-cut diamond in a platinum ring mounting featured in one of our newspaper ads. He called the next day and asked how much is was. When we told him the price, he said, “Wrap it up,” and came in and bought it. Two days later, he called me about another diamond he’d seen in one of our ads—a 5.25 ct. ­radiant-cut diamond. He said, “Okay, wrap that up, too.” And when he was picking that up, he happened to see a 5.5 ct. princess-cut diamond. I didn’t have the price for it right away, so he left a blank signed check with me and asked that I call him with the price and fill in the check myself. He bought them all for his wife, but he really bought them to stick away as an investment. He’s doubled his money on those big stones, for sure. That kind of series of sales hasn’t happened before or since.

2. What has been your finest hour in the realm of customer service?

My wife and I got in the car one afternoon and drove an anniversary gift an hour and 40 minutes to a city in Oklahoma because one of our customers became ill and couldn’t drive to the store. When we got to the door, we had this beautifully wrapped package. He was sick in bed, but his wife looked shocked that we were there. We don’t consider that kind of thing above-and-beyond. It’s just a part of our lives.

3. What’s the best idea you’ve ever come up with for your store?

It’s probably ongoing. My mother was truly an interior decorator. And since she’s been gone, I do that. I think changing things is my forte. Some of the people in the store kid me and say, “All you do is walk around and move things.” But I want everything to look fresh and clean. I want people to look in the cases and say, “Wow, that’s really pretty,” and not see a case jammed with merchandise. I probably spend more time on keeping the store presentable than on anything else. Fingerprints on the Rolexes and the crystal—that doesn’t fly with me.

4. How do you differentiate your store from the competition?

I think the way we deal with people is a lot different. We don’t sell. I don’t want anyone here trying to sell. I want them to educate, to share information, and to try to answer questions. We do not intimidate people by trying to take their money. We have a ­7,000-square-foot store, which is already pretty intimidating. It works pretty well. We thank them for coming in, but we don’t try to make them walk out of here with a package. I know people now are aggressive and they call their customers about this or that. I will not do that. I very rarely email customers, too. There’s too much intrusion in our lives already.

5. Do you have any ambitious goals for your store? 

We’ve been waiting to be 100 years old and will be next year. In 1914, my grandparents opened the store. My goal is just to stay in business and get to that next year. Keeping everyone happy and busy here—that’s all I can handle in 10- to 12-hour day.