Allison Newbauer Strongin
What has been your biggest challenge, and how have you resolved it?
The biggest challenge for us, being in Miami, is that we have a big gray market for timepieces and jewelry. We’re always working to give customers that peace of mind that they’re buying something genuine. We make sure they understand we’re an official dealer for a brand, and give them the factory warranty. We also recently started offering the Kirk Lifetime Service program on select timepieces, which guarantees lifetime service for a watch. Usually they’re won over and become lifetime customers. A lot of people don’t have the information they need to buy a [luxury timepiece] when they start out, so we give them a little education. We also tell them to look at the brand’s website and check out the list of authorized dealers. We’re on it.
What do you like most when you walk into your store?
We moved five or six years ago and were able to build the store of our dreams. My brother [co-owner Jeff Newbauer] has a design background, and his input was really integral to the store’s design. It has a neutral color palette with lots of creams and browns, wood and marble—and a very warm and friendly feel. Our store has been around for a very long time, and we wanted a design that was classic enough to look good for a long time. Our last store was done in a “modern” style, but that was 45 years ago—so it was only modern at the time!
What is your single best money-saving initiative?
I think it’s been being smart with the money we have—by being very specific about the brands we’ve chosen for the store. And very exclusive. We have a lot of opportunities to pick up great watch and jewelry brands. But we’ve targeted exactly who our customer is and we buy according to that. In a way we keep small, because we’re really focused when it comes to the collections we carry. At the same time, we’re always looking to see what’s missing—is there an area in jewelry or watches or a price point that would appeal to a certain customer? We want the collection to be truly well rounded.
What advertising or promotion has elicited the biggest response, and why do you think it worked?
We’ve been really focused on the local glossy magazines—Ocean Drive, Miami magazine, [the Miami Herald’s] Indulge, and others. The magazines have been wonderful to work with. There have been a lot of benefits to advertising with them. We’ve been able to get additional editorial, event promotion. It gives us a reach we wouldn’t have on our own.
What ambitious goal do you have for your store?
We’ve been around for 70 years—Jeff and I are third-generation owners. And we want to be around for another 70. It’s important to us that our customers keep coming back and that we keep those relationships going. It’s a very realistic goal, really, but it’s not an easy goal to achieve.
Photograph by Jeffery Salter