What does this business do?
We’re a retail jewelry store, so we sell watches, rings, bracelets and gifts.
What was the impetus for opening this business?
My (Roger’s) father started it in 1956. And then, I went to school and came in here in 1970. I kind of wanted to be involved in the family business.
What is the best thing about being located in Rensselaer?
Being raised here and everything, you know all the people, so you get to know your customers pretty good. It’s a good small town, good place to raise a family, and it’s good and safe.
What is the biggest challenge?
I would say, probably, keeping up with current styles and keeping inventory that’s sell-able is probably the biggest challenge, and keeping customers happy. That’s always a challenge.
What is your busiest time of the year?
November and December — but especially December. We do one-third to one-fourth of our whole-year sales in December, so it’s a big month for us. It’s like a farmer’s harvest season. It’s really good for us.
What is the most popular thing you sell/service you provide?
Probably rings are the most popular thing we sell, but (also) all kinds of jewelry. But repair is huge because there’s always people knocking stones out of rings or gaining weight or losing weight, where they need their rings sized, fitted and all that stuff. Repair in general is huge. And there’s not very many people doing this work anymore. A jeweler in DeMotte just closed up, so we’re getting a lot of DeMotte business, which is good.
What is a less popular item/service you would recommend?
Probably re-tip diamonds, or build up prongs on rings that are worn (that have) been worn a long time. And then, they’ll forget that they’re worn and then they’ll lose the stone. They’ll have to come in and buy the stone. So, probably service work. (We supply) batteries for watches and stuff.
What is the thing you most like to do as part of your business?
I kind of really like to meet with customers and show merchandise, sell merchandise. But I like servicing, too. It’s really something that sets me apart from every other Tom, Dick or Harry that just sells because anybody can sell. But then, after the sale, you have to service it. Like, if we sell a new watch, they come back and we adjust it, all that stuff.
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
The best thing is you can be your own boss, although with your customers you’ve got to cater to them. But you can set your hours and hire whatever help you want. You can be in charge.
What is the biggest downside?
Of course, it comes with responsibilities, too, because the buck stops here. If anything happens, even at night, or if a pipe breaks or if the alarm goes off, they call you.
What is the biggest misconception about your business?
That we’re very expensive because we’re a jewelry store; that our prices are definitely comparable to out-of-town mall prices. A lot of times we can compete with the malls. A lot of times in our ads or something, we’ll say “Check with us before buying out of town.” We’ve had people say “I’ve been all over Lafayette, and I came back here and found what I wanted.” That’s not always what happens, but that has happened.
How would you describe your business philosophy?
Probably “Honesty is the best policy.” You don’t want to do customers wrong, or they tell everybody in a small town. (The customers) have to trust (their) jeweler.
When it comes time to retire, is there a family member who will be taking over for you?
Not right at the moment. You never know, but not right at the moment. We’re just taking it year by year.
How has your business changed over time?
Styles change. We don’t have the jewelry salesmen come in anymore. We used to go into Chicago and buy stuff. We used to go to gift shows and jewelry shows. Those are kind of gone, so we just have to buy from our dealers that we deal with. You can buy online, too, which is really convenient.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
Be willing to work hard and be honest.