If you’re selling yourself as a family store, have a family member in the store from open to close
At Meyers Jewelers in Grove City, Ohio, family ownership isn’t simply a quaint fact designed to warm up a sales pitch—it dictates store protocol. Founder Meyer Weisman has a pact with his two sons, co-owners Jeff and Scott Weisman, stipulating that at least one family member be in the store during business hours. “Customers always say they chose us because they want to buy from a family business,” says Scott. “So we promote ourselves heavily that way. When you come in, there will always be an owner to talk to.” The gemologist brothers began working at the store—which Meyer opened in 1966 with their mother, Anna—while they were in grade school. “I remember cleaning watchbands, engraving, and cleaning up when I was 10,” says Scott. Both sons went on to earn degrees at Ohio State University, but always knew they would take over the shop. “I really never did consider another profession,” says Jeff. “It’s literally the only thing I’ve ever done.”
Meyer: The best part of working with my sons is that I can say whatever is on my mind. I can tell them exactly what my sentiments are and what’s right or wrong. You can also learn from youth and I’ve learned a lot from my boys.
Jeff: The trust factor is big. I trust my brother and my father with everything in the business. The craziest thing is, I can’t even think of an argument my brother and I have had since we started working on things. And we work in the same store 11 hours a day.
Jeff: I learned not to slack off from my dad. I saw what he had to do. My mom would bring us out to dinner near the store once a week so we could have at least that one dinner with him.
Scott: I learned respect from my dad. You treat people not as customers but as friends, and honesty and integrity are important. All the vendors we meet with ask the same thing: “How’s your dad? We miss him at the shows.” He’s the most honorable man in the industry.
Meyer: Scott’s personality added a lot to the store. He’s the type of person who can wait on anybody. Jeffrey is very strong in terms of advertising. He does all our TV commercials and marketing.
Scott: You have to learn from the first generation and then figure out ways to move it forward.
Meyer: Get the [next generation] well-versed in what they’re doing. And every opportunity you have to get them in the store and working, take it.
Jeff: My dad [let] me make a real investment in marketing. Fortunately, it has worked out well. I’ve heard from people in our situation that their fathers don’t want to change a thing. On the other hand, you have to listen to advice and know when to keep your mouth shut. You don’t always have to be right. That’s not going to work in a family business.