Connect with us

Headlines

Business Was Good, and So Was the Economy. He Closed His Jewelry Store Anyway

Marshalls Jewelers is among 71 stores listed as closed, merged or sold by the Jewelers Board of Trade.

mm

Published

on

YEARS BEFORE HE DECIDED to close Marshalls Jewelers in San Luis Obispo, CA, Jeff McKeegan had his escape plan ready: a beach in Uruguay, a forest on the South Island of New Zealand, a farm in Northern Ireland, “just about anywhere, really,” he told the local Chamber of Commerce.

Jeff McKeegan

“When retirement finally comes, I will be off like a shot.”

Retirement finally came. Marshalls Jewelers is among the 71 stores listed as closed, merged or sold in the preliminary January report from the Jewelers Board of Trade.

His closure of a local institution heading toward its 130th year certainly was not taken lightly. He spent two years “questioning whether this is the right decision,” as he explained to the San Luis Obispo New Times.

On the one hand, “Business has been good, the economy has been good so we figured we might as well, we’ll do it now,” he told the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

Advertisement

Although he had found the jewelry business incredibly rewarding, it seemed time to pursue his old dream of traveling the world with his life partner (now husband) of more than 40 years, Steven deLuque. On the other hand, there was a powerful legacy to consider.

Manuel Marshall opened the store in 1889, eventually passing it to his son Art, who in turn sold it to cousin Clifford Chapman.

In 1981, local college student Jeff McKeegan stopped by the store to pick up a gift. It proved to be a life-changing serendipity, and soon after left his jobs a waiter to go to work for Chapman at Marshalls.

“Working beside him daily for years was the best schooling I ever had,” he said of Chapman, according to the chamber. “I have never known anyone who gave of himself more every day. His concern and care for others was complete and genuine.”

In addition to his love of fine jewelry and custom design, Chapman passed on to McKeegan the fundamental lessons of running a retail business: “Compassion. Humility. To put people first – before things, before process.”

After more than a dozen years working with his mentor, who died in 2012, McKee bought Marshalls with a business partner in 1993, and quickly began to expand the store’s reach into the rapidly evolving world of computer technology.

Advertisement

“You have to reinvent yourself from time to time,” said McKeegan of the changes he instituted over the years. “But you don’t want to run the risk of losing what you have, what is already working.”

What worked for Marshalls throughout its long history was a solid emphasis on customer service.

“Anyone, any store or studio, can have good merchandise to sell,” he told the chamber. “You have to set yourself apart with the service you give. It is the personal connection that keeps you going strong. I love that we have clients now whose families have been with us for generations. To engender that kind of loyalty you must not only treat people well, but let them know by your actions that they are important to the success of the business.”

Shortly before the store’s closing, he reminisced to KSBY-TV, “We had a young man in here the other day, 16 years old, came in said he wanted to buy an engagement ring. He said, ‘I don’t have a girlfriend … but my family has always bought their engagement rings here and I’ll be the fifth generation and I want to have a ring when I find the right girl.'”

Such stories were told and retold in the weeks before the store’s closing.

“I can’t tell you how many tears have been shed on both sides of the counter,” McKeegan told New Times.

Advertisement

“It’s bittersweet, but I’m going.”

Like a shot.

A veteran U.S. journalist, Bill Hutchinson has received several national awards for writing and editing. He lives in Mexico City.

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

Gene the Jeweler

Gene the Jeweler Gets Kicked Out of the Studio

In the latest episode (#42) of Gene the Jeweler, Gene is going about his business, recording a new episode. But that doesn’t last long. Four-time NFL Pro Bowl leading rusher Ahman Green walks in, and Gene finds that his time in the studio is over — whether he likes it or not. (See more Gene the Jeweler episodes at instoremag.com/gene.)

Promoted Headlines

Headlines

Jeweler, Coin Dealer Charged With Precious-Metal Violations

They allegedly failed to meet reporting requirements.

mm

Published

on

YORK, PA – A jeweler and a coin dealer have been accused in Pennsylvania with violating reporting requirements for precious-metal sales.

The York County district attorney filed charges against James Zimmerman of Zimmerman Jewelers and Dennis Steinmetz of Steinmetz Coins and Currency.

A Pennsylvania statute mandates, “A copy of every record of transaction shall be delivered or mailed to the district attorney of the county in which a purchase of precious metals is made by the close of the next working day after the day on which the metal is purchased.”

Both owners were contacted on Jan. 15 advising them that they were to return to compliance, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office. From Feb. 1 to present, Zimmerman Jewelers has had a 37% compliance rate, and Steinmetz Coins and Currency had a compliance rate of 17%, according to the release.

Advertisement

The York County District Attorney’s Office stated that it “has invested significant time and money in an effort to make submissions easier on precious metals dealers by creating a web-based reporting system.” Over the past two years, the program has grown to include Lebanon County and is in the process of expanding to Cumberland County. There are currently over 50 precious metal dealers using the website, who maintain an average 94% compliance rate.

District Attorney Dave Sunday said, “It is the legal obligation of every precious metal dealer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide this information to their jurisdiction’s District Attorney. Data from this website has proven to be an invaluable tool, aiding municipal law enforcement officers in solving drug and property crimes, and helping to reunite stolen items with their rightful owners.”

Continue Reading

Headlines

World’s Largest Diamond Mine to Close ⁠— Here’s What That Could Mean

The mine is known for producing pink and red diamonds.

mm

Published

on

Rio Tinto Group plans to close its Argyle mine in western Australia, and that could bring a rise in the price of pink diamonds.

The mine is well-known for producing pink and red diamonds, Bloomberg reports.

In fact, 90 percent of the world’s pink diamonds come from the mine, although such stones are only a tiny percentage of Argyle’s total production. The majority of its production consists of brown diamonds, which are less valuable.

The mine is the world’s largest producer of diamonds by volume.

Arnaud Soirat, head of copper and diamonds for Rio, told Bloomberg that operations will be shut down in late 2020. By then it’s expected that its supply of economically viable stones will have been exhausted.

Pat Godin, CEO of Stornoway Diamond Corp., has predicted that with the closure, “The rational offset between supply and demand should lead to price growth.”

He told Bloomberg that the effect could be “even more dramatic” for pink diamonds.

“You can imagine the laws of supply and demand will apply, and you can imagine the impact that will have on those very rare pink, red, blue and purple diamonds,” Godin said.

Read more at Bloomberg

Continue Reading

Headlines

Fashion Jewelry Chain to Close All 261 Stores

3,000 employees could lose their jobs.

mm

Published

on

Jewelry and accessories retailer Charming Charlie is closing all of its 261 stores in connection with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed July 11.

Bloomberg reports that over 3,000 full- and -part-time workers could lose their jobs.

The bankruptcy filing is Charming Charlie’s second in the past two year, Bloomberg reports.

Store closing sales are being conducted by a joint venture consisting of Hilco Merchant Resources and SB360 Capital Partners, according to a press release.

Charming Charlie operates in 38 states. A full list of closing stores is available here.

Advertisement

The liquidation is expected to take two months.

The company’s debt totals $82 million, according to Bloomberg. Its cash on hand amounted to only $6,000  as of the bankruptcy filing.

Charming Charlie is a Houston-based specialty retailer focused on fashion jewelry, handbags, apparel, gifts and beauty products.

Continue Reading

Most Popular