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ACS 2006 2nd Place: Josephs Jewelers



Josephs Jewelers, Des Moines, IA

OWNERS: Toby and John Joseph; ADDRESS: 5425 Mills Civic Parkway; West Des Moines, IA 50266; PHONE: (515) 440-2991; URL:; YEAR FOUNDED: 1871; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2005;ARCHITECT /DESIGN FIRM: Smith Metzger Architectural; TOTAL STORE AREA: 18,500 sq ft; EMPLOYEES (AT FEATURED STORE): 47; 2005 REVENUES (AT FEATURED STORE): “Eight figures”;LAND COST: $640,000; BUILDING COST: $3 million; INTERIOR BUILD-OUT COST: $1 million; DESIGN/ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS COST: $200,000; CURRENT ESTIMATED PROPERTY VALUE: $5.5 million; STORE SLOGAN: “Without question … Josephs Jewelers”

Five Cool Things About Josephs Jewelers

Land Grabs

Josephs is situated on an almost 1.5 acre lot. With that kind of land the Joseph brothers had lots of space to not only create plenty of parking for their customers (51 slots), but also some attractive landscaping, including a small babbling brook that is home to fish — weather permitting.

The element was originally intended to be an aesthetically-pleasing feature to welcome customers, but it has developed into a popular spot for men looking to pop the question.

“We’ve had many gentlemen propose to their fiancées in front of that water feature — one of them being my son Jake,” laughs Toby.

Wright Stuff

The Joseph brothers wanted to get everything right with their dream store — or was it “everything Wright”?

Their architect, Daryl Metzger, principal of the Smith Metzger Architectural firm, is a hardcore Frank Lloyd Wright fan who incorporated many of the famed architect’s distinctive touches in the West Glen store. “This caught the attention of a woman who shopped at our other stores infrequently,” says Toby.


“But when she saw the new store she said she appreciated what we did in honoring Wright’s signature styles and began shopping here more often. Now she comes in at least once a month and buys a significant piece of jewelry.”

Party Central

When the new West Glen store was built, Toby and John Joseph wanted enough space to accommodate their own promotional events. But as they settled into their 18,500-square-foot store, they discovered they weren’t the only ones who wanted to throw parties there — since the store opened, the local high school as well as an area lifestyle/society magazine have hosted events at the sprawling location. And requests continue to come in.

Comfort Zones

Most stores have an area dedicated to giving customers a break, but at Josephs the indoor lounge and outdoor patio do double duty — they are key elements in the engagement-ring-buying experience as well.

In the warmer months, the patio allows customers to view diamonds in natural daylight.

When things cool, the action moves indoors to the lounge, which has comfy chairs and a fireplace as well as a coffee maker. “Part of creating our store identity was producing a commercial featuring a young engagement couple looking at jewelry next to a warm, cozy and welcoming fireplace in our lounge,” says Toby.

“This has had a positive effect on our engagement business as young people see the message and know this is a relaxing, no-pressure place to buy jewelry. And it’s working. Most Saturdays we have 10 to 25 engagement calls as well as an increase in diamond-jewelry calls.”

Crystal Clear

When it comes to promotional events, Josephs is a recordbreaker.

John Joseph tells what happened when the store hosted a promotional event for Orrefors crystal, part of Josephs giftware offerings.

“They held an 18-store signing tour and Josephs was a scheduled stop on the tour,” says John. “Our store in Des Moines had the largest number of sales in terms of dollar amount and units as compared to any other stop on the tour, which included big cities with exclusive shops such as Chicago and Los Angeles.”

Talk to Me, Baby

With such a large store, the Josephs knew that keeping track of staff would be a challenge. To avoid the “Attention, K-mart shoppers!” style of public address, Toby and John opted for a wireless phone system that allows the employees to be discreetly contacted. The store’s 19 salespeople each have their own handset connected to the in-store phone network.

“We ask each person to keep their phone in vibrating answer mode,” says John. “If they’re with a customer, they simply let the call go to autoforward or their own voice mail.”


Questions with Toby Joseph

YOU’RE PART OF A NEW LIFESTYLE CENTER. HOW’S THAT WORKING OUT?  Des Moines is experiencing a lot of growth and the new lifestyle center is part of it. When we staked out the lot, we knew Josephs would be the first building people would see as they entered, so we made sure we’re a welcoming sight.

2 WHAT ASPECT OF BUILDING THIS STORE DID YOU ENJOY MOST?  We had dreamt about this for years and when we finally got around to it we were at that stage of growing the business when we didn’t have to worry about bottom lines, budgets or finances. I enjoyed building our dream store without worrying about money.

3 YOU HAVE YOUR OWN FOUR WALLS. HOW DOES IT FEEL?  We don’t have to live under the constraints of a landlord and we can take Saturday nights off and close on Sunday if we want. And, we can plan any event and do anything we want because it’s our store. We even hired the popular and high-spirited shoe-shine guy located downtown to shine customers’ shoes on Saturdays. Everyone loved it!

4 WERE THERE ANY POST-“BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME” WORRIES?  With so many risks and unknowns I was really nervous when we first opened.

But after being in this location for just over a year now, I know it was the right thing to do in improving our business. I’m much more relaxed now knowing we did the right thing.

5 YOU’RE COOL. HOW DOES IT FEEL?  When we built this store we never thought about industry accolades. We just wanted to do right by our customers.

In doing this, we are humbled by being honored alongside other fine jewelry stores from across the country.




She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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