Have You Met Lou Guarino…Yet?

Louis Anthony Jewelers’ owner has made a name (and a face) for himself all over Pittsburgh

1. What one advertisement elicited the most response, and why did it work?
One of our most successful marketing efforts is our “Have we met…yet?” billboard. The billboard hasn’t changed much since 1992. It’s essentially a portrait of me with the tagline and our contact information. That’s it. I am and always have been a very visible business owner in the Pittsburgh area, and the basic idea is that if we haven’t met, we will at some point. I know the campaign is doing a good job branding our store because sons and daughters of people who saw the campaign early on are now my customers. Customers walk through the door and ask to “meet” me, and everywhere I go, people say, “You’re the billboard guy!” 

2. Describe your most memorable sale.
It was actually a piece I gave away, but not to just anyone. Last year I was approached by the committee that was bringing former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to Pittsburgh for a speaking engagement, and they asked me to create a custom pin. I purchased her book Read My Pins to get an idea of her tastes, and I discovered she didn’t have a monogram pin. So I drew up a design based on her personal history and professional work. The pin is done mainly in rose gold and diamonds with olive branches set with briolette-cut garnets, the national stone of her native Czech Republic. I presented the pin to her last October, and she was thrilled. It ended up being a fairly significant investment for me, but I was honored. Given the publicity, I’ve made at least 12 other similar monogram pins, ranging in retail price from $5,000 to $15,000.

3. What was your finest hour in the realm of customer service?
A good client purchased a number of diamond jewelry pieces for his wife for Christmas. She was more than pleased, but the diamond necklace she really wanted wasn’t among them. I received a call from the panicked husband. He wanted to purchase the necklace and present it to his wife on New Year’s Eve. There was one problem—the necklace was sold. We had only four days to make the same necklace. It took a little longer than we had anticipated, so to meet the husband’s goal, we flew an employee to deliver the necklace to Disney World, where they were vacationing.

4. What’s the best idea you’ve come up with for your store?
Each year we come up with a creative way to recognize the patronage we receive from our top customers. One year, we invited 300 customers to see the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes in Pittsburgh. We held a postconcert reception at which several Rockettes appeared in costume and posed for pictures with our customers. They absolutely loved it. We don’t discuss business. It’s about enjoying a special evening and having fun. Recognizing these customers in unique ways engenders loyalty. We know the sales will come our way when the time is right.

5. When you walk through your door, what do you like most about your store?
I love the classic look: eight crystal chandeliers, beige marble floors, and Roman columns. Customers and vendors say they’ve never seen a store like ours. They say it belongs on Rodeo Drive. That’s high praise.