Opposite business styles attract sophisticated shoppers at Polacheck’s Jewelers
Brent Polacheck was 22 when he dropped the proverbial bomb on his father, Stephen: He wanted to quit college to work at the family store, Polacheck’s Jewelers. “He told me I needed to graduate, go to GIA, and work for someone else for two years before he would even consider it,” recalls Brent, now 40 and co-owner of the Calabasas, Calif., fine jewelry store with his semi-retired dad. “It was the greatest advice anyone has ever given me.” Brent went on to graduate, hone his retail chops at Tourneau in New York City, and earn his GIA certification. “I started at the bottom,” he says. “If I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.” Polacheck’s is located in one of Hollywood’s toniest bedroom communities, and its father-son owners have made the shop a major destination for big diamonds and luxury timepieces from such brands as Patek Philippe, Cartier, and Rolex. No small feat, considering there’s so much contrast between their respective business styles.
Give and Take
Brent: My first day, my dad told me if I followed these rules, the road is endless: Never overextend yourself in terms of buying, make calculated risks, pay your bills on time, and always leave your door open for vendors—you never know where they’re going to land. I let every vendor in. I may not always buy; they’re trying to make a living too.
Stephen: Brent’s brought a totally new sophistication of customer to the store—watch collectors and large diamond investors. I would not put my personal clientele in that class. And he’s extremely knowledgeable about rare complicated watches.
Stephen: I have a more conservative way of doing business. I do not like debt. He’s more risk-taking. Where I would be satisfied going along and taking a conservative approach, he will reach much higher levels of success. But he also can reach a lower plateau.
Brent: When dad was my age, he was opening up multiple stores. I think that was a risk. I only want one store and I want it to be the best store it can be. I’m expanding the store 2,000 square feet. I will go out and buy a big watch for six figures or a big diamond because our customer has elevated with us. Twenty years ago, my dad’s bread-and-butter was Rolex watches with 1 ct. stones. Now clients are buying 5 ct. to 15 ct. stones and Patek Philippe watches. You have to throw out a big lure if you want to catch a big fish. But I get it—his generation was more conservative.
Stephen: We’ve worked in the same office across from one another for 17 years, and we’ve loved virtually every minute. We’ve had maybe three confrontations. I love it when I’m with him and I miss him when I’m not with him.
Brent: I get to travel with my dad all over the world to buy great things. I work side by side with him and we eat lunch three to four times a week together. I have a relationship with my dad that most kids only dream of.