Tapper’s, the Motor City’s Wheelers and Dealers

Fittingly, a car financed their first store. The Detroit-area chain has been cruising ever since.

Although Tapper’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry is used to dealing in gold and platinum, it was another hunk of metal—Howard Tapper’s car—that put them in business 35 years ago. After working in the stockrooms and sales floors of jewelry stores for a decade, Howard opened his first location with the cash from selling his family’s wheels.

After brother ­Steven came on, ­Tapper’s kept expanding, settling on three metro Detroit stores: West Bloomfield, Novi, and Troy. Now with ­Howard’s son Mark and daughter Marla, the ­family business is in full bloom. “A tree grows stronger each year,” says Howard. “Our roots grow deeper in the ­community, and the combination of the two gives us stability and beauty.”

On Giving Back

Howard: In 2011, we participated in a program with Detroit Public Schools to create a mentoring and special events program for the students. Education is a key to future success for young children, central to their development.
Mark: This year, we held our 21st Annual Coat Drive, collecting over $12,500 to purchase new coats and over 3,000 gently used coats and hundreds of new hats and gloves. Over the 21 years, we have collected tens of thousands of dollars. By creating partnerships with local TV stations, community and civic organizations, and area businesses, we have been able to expand our outreach in assisting those in need.

Ties That Bind

Steven: Because our family lives by similar values, we are more power­ful as a team than as individuals.
Mark: We have made a commitment to each other to celebrate our individual success and help each other in times of need. This is a great benefit of working together and watching our family grow.
Howard: Especially as a parent, I take great pride in seeing how my children have grown and matured into young adults in our business.

Big-Picture Thinking

Howard: I have had to think in a much more macro scale. Rather than focusing on the details that make a difference in one store, I am now thinking about how things affect the entire corporation.
Steven: One of our core values is to continually strive for improvement; this requires a willingness to give 100 ­percent–plus every day.

Sage Advice

Mark: The No. 1 piece of advice for someone getting into the jewelry business today is make sure you have a plan that outlines your goals and objectives with a timeline. Be patient: There are many facets to being successful other than selling jewelry. Think about finance, marketing, government regulations, having the right team, the Internet, and the influence of social media.
Howard: Whenever you think about policies and procedures, use the Golden Rule. You can never go wrong if that is how you operate your business.

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