1. What was your most memorable sale?
In 2000, I went to a customer’s home to buy some jewelry she wanted to sell. While I was there inspecting her jewelry, I saw a Cartier Mystery Clock. In 1912 Cartier began making one Mystery Clock a year; these days I understand they only make one every other year, with prices averaging from $1 million to $1.5 million. Her Mystery Clock was produced in 1939. She wouldn’t let it go for a penny less than $200,000. Even though it needed about $50,000 in repairs that would take more than a year to complete, I still sold it for a very good price.
2. What was your finest hour in customer service?
About 20 years ago a woman came into my store wanting to sell a ruby ring to help pay for her granddaughter’s education. The woman went to another jeweler who offered to give her $1,000 for the ring. I looked at the ring and told the woman it was worth much more than what the unscrupulous and unethical jeweler offered her for a white gold and platinum ring set with a rare natural, unheated Burma ruby. Given the value of this ring, I offered to give her $10,000 that day or commission on whatever I could sell it for at auction in the future. She took my hand and began to cry and asked only for the $10,000, adding that if I got more for the ring at auction I could keep that extra money. I ended up selling the ring at auction for $27,000. I called her up and wanted to give her an extra $5,000, closer to the commission percentage. But she insisted I keep that money. Eventually she agreed to take the extra $5,000. When she came in the store to receive her additional payment, she brought in a homemade pie for me and my staff.
3. How do you differentiate your store from the competition?
We always sell people value no matter the price of the piece. We’re very price conscience no matter the piece, be it $500, $50,000 or $500,000. If the jewelry isn’t a good value for our customers, we don’t sell it. This has been our policy for 62 years. This is what I’ve taught my sons and now my grandsons as they enter the business. We don’t carry any name brand jewelry. Our brand is Lou Goldberg, with the exception of some name-brand watches. We also want customers to be satisfied with their purchase. We have a one-year exchange policy. If the customer doesn’t like the jewelry purchased they can exchange it for a piece of equal or greater value, no questions asked. We also offer diamond jewelry loan services to our bridal customers. All we ask is that the store receives a picture from the wedding.
4. What ambitious goal do you have for your store?
As my grandchildren enter the family business, I would like to see us expand into multiple stores. My son Eric is already working on these plans. Our store is located in Montreal, but I would like to see the store expand into Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Calgary—in that order. This, of course, is up to my children and grandchildren, but this is a goal I have in mind for the family business. A second store could possibly open in the next year or so. I have seven grandsons and one granddaughter. How much we expand the Goldberg name depends on the current and future generations.
5. When you walk through your front door, what do you like most about your store?
When I walk through my front door I have a sense of pride. I’m a Great Depression baby and came from a family that had nothing but was rich intellectually. We’ve worked hard at our family business and continually seek to make it a comfortable place to buy jewelry. Three years ago we did a complete renovation of the store. We gutted the store and closed it for three weeks. There’s more of a sense of openness and the store is much brighter. When you walk through the door the jewelry just hits you right away.