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All Grown Up

Once an 11-foot-wide storefront, this five-store chain now boasts North Carolina's largest jewelry store.



Bailey’s Fine Jewelry, Raleigh, NC

URL:; OWNER: Clyde & Jane Bailey; FOUNDED: 1948; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 1994; LAST RENOVATED: 2014; SHOWCASES: Artco; AREA: 11,000 square feet; EMPLOYEES: More than 21 full-time, more than 21 part-time; TOP BRANDS: David Yurman, Ippolita, John Hardy, Marco Bicego, Elizabeth Locke, Temple St. Clair, Mikimoto, Tacori, Phillips House, Armenta, Pandora, Alex and Ani; TWITTER: 752 followers; FACEBOOK: 9,867 Likes; ALEXA GLOBAL RANK: 1,687,885

YEARS AGO, WHEN a local businessman warned a young Clyde Bailey Jr. that he could not be all things to all people, he wondered,“Why can’t I?”

Bailey thought about that for a moment and asked if he could be most things to most people.

The answer: “Maybe, if you do it well.” Bailey set out to do just that.

The history of Bailey’s Fine Jewelry began in Rocky Mount, NC, with Clyde’s parents, “Big Clyde” and “Mama Ann” Bailey in 1948. Bailey’s is now entering into the third generation of the family business with Trey and Marci Bailey and their brother-in-law, Doug Morgan.

His parents’ first store was just 11 feet wide, says Clyde Bailey, who marvels at how the business has grown from such a a tiny space to five stores, including a flagship store that’s recently expanded to 11,000 square feet, becoming the largest jewelry store in North Carolina, as well as his pride and joy.

“I’ve been blessed,” Clyde Bailey says, simply.

Most Things to Most People

Bailey wants to throw open the doors of his showplace store and invite all of Raleigh to dance, hug and generally celebrate life’s special occasions. He doesn’t want anyone to be left out. He’s not looking for his niche.

So, while other jewelers he knows phased out giftware because it takes up too much space, Bailey went the opposite way.


“I don’t disrespect what they’re saying — I think they’re great businessmen and I don’t think I’m a great businessman — but I’m pretty darn good at listening to what people in the community want,” Bailey says.

And it turns out they want sterling rattles for baby gifts.

They want wedding party gifts and a bridal registry.

They want housewarming gifts.

They want to celebrate each and every one of their special occasions in a place that makes them happy.

“I wanted to think of more reasons to come to Bailey’s; not fewer reasons, and we flourish because of that,” Bailey says.

Although the store is sprawling, it’s not overwhelming, because the Baileys themselves designed the layout, dividing it into departments, or vignettes, as
Bailey calls them, making the expansive space seem manageable and each area, cozy, even.

Center islands are devoted to designer brands. Fashion finds are front and center. Diamonds and gemstones shine in 65 linear feet of case space. There’s even an estate boutique, where jewelry is displayed in cases modeled after those used in Bailey’s original store.

One goal was to make the space look fresh, light and airy to appeal to millennials. The bridal gallery is done in white, rather than traditional brown, for example.

Other homey new features include a children’s playroom with video games, movies and toys, a coffee bar and an ESPN Sports Lounge.


Creating the Buzz

Bailey thrives on the hum of activity in his store. Between staff and patrons, there could be 100 people in the store at one time on any given day.

“We’re not a slow, little sleepy store. We’re movers and shakers. I have a philosophy that my son loves to remind me of — I believe in five fast nickels over one slow quarter. I don’t want to wait for that one customer who rolls in at 2 p.m. and makes a big purchase. I’d rather be a part of five people’s happy occasions. We want action and that takes a lot of people being in the store.”

Anyone can feel the energy, he says.

Bailey refers to the sales floor as the dance floor, and patrons as dance partners. “We get out on the dance floor and we find a dance partner. Every day is serious. But we don’t have to act serious about it.”

“We might start singing a song in the store — Martha and the Vandellas, or Diana Ross. A couple of sales girls might jump into the scenario, with arm movements and lip syncing. Patrons join in and say, ‘Man, I always loved that song.’ The music is part of the buzz. And it’s not on such a low volume that you’ve got to stretch your ear and turn your head to the speaker to be able to tell if it’s the song you think it is.

“It’s part of the personality of the store. Our people are professional, they know their stuff, but we do it in a lighthearted environment.
“Places you really enjoy going to you’ll go time and time again.”


Five Cool Things About Bailey’s Fine Jewelry

1. THE CONCIERGE.  Known as the Chief Experience Orchestrator, the concierge is more than a greeter. On any given day, 26 to 28 staff members are on the floor. The “CEO” reads the mood of the room and steps in if customers are being overlooked. He also follows up with all patrons as they leave, making sure their experience has been exceptional and if not, resolving problems immediately.

2. HIRING FOR HEART.  “We hire happy hearts and big, warm smiles,” Bailey says. “That is the main special ingredient that allows us to create the BEE, the Bailey’s Extraordinary Experience. You can teach a skill to someone but you can’t change a heart. We will interview as many as five times to make sure before we hire. I don’t want to be formal; I want to be friendly. I want to know, ‘What do they want most in life?’ If they’re going to come on board, we are a family business and they will be an extension and a part of our family.”

3. CALL ME CLYDE.  “I’m Clyde. I’m not Mr. Bailey. And I want associates to say, I work with Clyde. I work with Bailey’s, not to say, I work for Clyde Bailey. Each one of us is a stakeholder in this deal. We want everyone to reap dividends of joy and satisfaction and purpose.”


4. COMMUNICATION STRATEGY.  The five stores work together because managers stay in touch. Every day, each store has a meeting to share information and celebrate successes. Once a week, there’s a conference call between the store managers. Once a month, managers gather in the corporate office. And once a year, there’s a managers’ retreat.

5. A MOBILE MESSAGE.  A car wrapped in black and white stripes with a red bow on the roof, known as the Bailey Box Car, is driven around town promoting the store. The Bailey Box itself is a symbol of love and luxury, Bailey says.

Try This: Wake up to Happiness

Clyde Bailey: “I wake up almost every morning and say the same thing to myself that I did in my early 20s: ‘I have the opportunity to make somebody happy today. Two people are going to commit their lives to each other and I get to be a part of it.’ That’s something to look forward to.”


  • Monica Stephenson:  Bailey’s Fine Jewelry seems to have really considered their patrons and their needs in the design and layout of the store. I especially loved the concept of their CEO, Chief Experience Orchestrator, who listens to patrons coming in the door and connects them with the person or area that meets their needs. In this brave new world of online and offline commerce, an incredible customer experience is the only thing that really separates retailers, and Bailey’s appears to go above and beyond.
  • Pamela Froman:  They successfully blend a fresh feeling with a classic jewelry store vibe. I like that they have a children’s playroom with video games, movies and toys, a coffee bar and ESPN sports lounge. In this day and age it is important to have your store be inviting to the whole family, and that is exactly what they have done.
  • Jonathan Sanders:  Elegant, well thought out, beautiful.
  • Kevin Reilly: Bailey’s exterior evokes the feeling of walking along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills — it’s romantic and whimsical.
  • Paul J. Russell:  The Bailey’s Box Car and multiple outreach endeavors create unique ways to connect with the community.



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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