Sissy & Co. have come a long way from that unheated termite-laden Arkansas log cabin
Family-owned fine jewelry stores aren’t rare. But Pine Bluff, Ark.–based Sissy’s Log Cabin boasts more family than most. Eleven of its employees hail from founder Sissy Jones’ family—including her husband, Murphy Jones, and son Bill Jones, now co-owner of the company. Sharri Jones, who’s married to Bill, heads up the retail chain’s events and antique and estate departments. And their sons, GIA-trained gemologist William Jones and college student Wyatt Jones, are ably ushering the third generation of Joneses into the business. The company has humble roots—Sissy’s first store was inside a tiny log cabin infamously riddled with termites. Forty-five years later, her business is a powerhouse; the four-store chain is the largest independently owned jewelry retailer in Arkansas. The secret to their success, says Bill, is its one-of-a-kind matriarch: “She’s one of the greatest salespeople in the world, and she has so much love and kindness in her. There is no one in the world like Sissy Jones.”
Bill: I came into the business in 1984. At the time, it was just mom and I. I did a lot of bench work at night; it was a very small deal. But I always loved selling, and I always had a knack for design, too.
Sissy: Our first place had no heating or air conditioning. The bathroom was a screened-in back porch. We had a grocery store next door, and we’d make cheese and bologna sandwiches to feed our friends who came by. It was a party every day. I did not think Bill was going to join the business. He was in engineering school, following in the footsteps of my husband. It’s wonderful to see my grandkids in the stores now. How many people are blessed with a family who wants to do what they want to do?
Bill: Sissy’s been a mentor to me my whole life. With family, you have full trust in the people you work with. And we know we’re building a legacy for our kids and grandkids. We took a long time before expanding because my father asked me to delay expansion so I wouldn’t miss the valuable time when your kids are growing up and in high school. Now we’ve expanded very quickly—my wife calls it my midlife crisis. [Laughs]
Sissy: Bill and I work very well together—we always have. And Sharri is just a love.
Bill: When you’re bringing in the next generation, it’s important that you listen to them. If you don’t evolve and change as a retailer, you’re going to fall by the wayside. These kids are coming into businesses with great ideas we have no idea about. Listen to what they’re saying. We were young once too.
Sissy: You could worry a lot being in this business, but I get up every day and say, “The regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow are the twin things that rob you of your happiness today.” Then I ask myself, “Do you want to be robbed?” It’s always inside of you to do it, whatever you want to do.