The Art of Endurance: Editor’s Letter, November 2015

On the last day of September, I flew to San Francisco for dinner. That may sound a tad extravagant—and it was—but the event I had been invited to attend at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio was worth the long-distance commute. 

San Francisco retailer Shreve & Co. and Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe were hosting a dinner that served as something of an exclamation point to the former’s big announcement: In mid-2016, the 163-year-old jeweler will move into a new flagship store on Post Street near Union Square, just 200 yards from its historic location.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill move. Shreve took up residence in its old home just before the big earthquake of 1906. In March of this year, the landlord secured a better deal with Harry Winston and told Shreve & Co. co-owner Lane Schiffman—vice president of Schiffman’s in Greensboro, N.C., which acquired Shreve in 1992—the retailer would have to vacate the building that bears its name. Shreve moved into a transitional space in early August, and is expected to be in its new two-story flagship store sometime next summer.

At dinner with Shreve & Co.’s Lane Schiffman (l.) and Patek Philippe USA president Larry Pettinelli

A lesser retailer might have used the stressful chain of events as an excuse to call it quits. But as one of America’s 10 oldest jewelers, Shreve & Co.—tied for sixth place with Randolph Jewelers, another California store—knows a thing or two about how to weather the proverbial storm. In “America’s 10 Oldest Retail Jewelers,” a tribute to America’s most enduring jewelry retailers, we distill the lessons Schiffman and his fellow jewelers have learned about longevity.

A recurring theme: Honor your past yet embrace the future. One splashy way to do that when you’re moving locations or unveiling a redesigned store is to stage an elaborate grand-opening party. In “Grand Openings vs. Soft Openings,” contributor Amanda Baltazar tells you everything you need to know about orchestrating the perfect shindig.

One key marketing element often forgotten or left to chance during festive occasions is the look and feel of your windows. In “How Windows Can Be a Boon to Your Store’s Bottom Line,” contributor Danny Smith makes clear that owners need to be intentional with their window real estate—especially now that the holidays are upon us.

We round out our annual Your Store issue with “Dream Machines,” senior editor Emili Vesilind’s look at five essential non-jewelry items that no retailer should live without. (Check out the crafty shot that opens the feature—science geeks, prepare to fall in love.)

In the end, however, running a business that withstands the vicissitudes of time is about much more than having the right merchandise (even though that is, indeed, a crucial element).

Schiffman summed it up at Shreve & Co. and Patek Philippe’s fabulous dinner in San Francisco: “We never got here by just making a sale,” he said. “It’s all about building a relationship for the long term, for the lifetime value of a client is absolutely what we focus on 100 percent of the time.”

May every jeweler who aspires to last through the centuries take those words to heart. Best wishes for a fantastic holiday season!

(Gomelsky photograph by Steven Simko)

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