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Wisconsin Jeweler is a Man in the Hurry

Tim Weisheipl is a fast-riser with Anthony’s Jewelers in Hayward, WI.

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Wisconsin Jeweler is a Man in the Hurry

THE YOUNG TIM WEISHEIPL WAS a man in a hurry. He opened his first store in Eau Claire, WI, at the age of just 23. On that store’s first anniversary, he launched another. Another year on he opened store No. 3. He then consolidated two of the stores in a mall location and shortly after … lost the lot, done in by too much debt and contract language he hadn’t fully appreciated.  [/dropcap]

LOOKING BACK: Twenty-five years later, Weisheipl looks back at that period from what he refers to as the position of the Third Little Pig – who painstakingly built his house out of bricks. A wolf-like recession has been howling outside his door but business has never been better, thanks, Weisheipl says, to the customer relationships he’s built up one by one in the holiday community of Hayward. “We haven’t done anything extraordinary. We’re just reaping the rewards of loving our customers for 25 years,” he says. 

BEST YEAR EVER: Prior to the 2009 holiday season, Anthony’s Jewelers was on track to have its best year ever, with estimated sales of $1.5 million, up from $1.2 million in 2008. The store carries no debt, and a $275,000 renovation in 2007 was paid for with cash. So Weisheipl can focus on consolidating relationships. 

KEEPING IN TOUCH: “Our job is making people feel special and important. And it’s such an easy thing to do, to spend a little extra time with them, to show appreciation for a new customer,” says Weisheipl, who regularly e-mails or phones his customers just to stay in touch and sometimes even joins the vacation-home owners for dinner when they’re in town. 

GIVING BACK: “It’s the law of reciprocity. When something is given freely and unsolicited, people want to give back. They want to spend their money with people they like. It’s something I think people are missing (in today’s retail environment).” Weisheipl says his business philosophy reflects his own personality. He truly likes people, he says, and gets a kick out of pleasing them.  

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COST CONTROLS: The warmth of the shopping experience is balanced by the cold hard eye kept on margins, starting with the store’s low headcount – just one full-time and two part-time employees along with Weisheipl. “We limit our overhead and our inventory; this is what allows us to make money. Our inventory represents less than one-third of our gross annual sales, which means we turn our inventory three times per year. We have no debt, and our bills are paid,” Weisheipl says. 

BEST BRANDS: Over the past year, diamonds and bridal have done well, as well as that low-price-point phenomenon – Pandora beads, something Weisheipl calls a “mystery of its own.” Not that he is complaining. Weisheipl says he regularly sees customers spend $5,000 over a period of a few weeks. “They don’t have trouble pulling the trigger on a $200 to $300 item.” 

OUTSIZED MARKET: The store’s vacation-town location has allowed Anthony’s to cultivate a client base way beyond its natural market, and the store now has customers around the country. Most of all though, Anthony’s has been built on customer relationships and patience. The peculiar result is that it is now enjoying unprecedented fast growth.

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