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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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.

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Burglars Are Cutting Jewelry Stores’ Power Lines to Disable Alarms

It’s happened more than 30 times across the country.

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The Jewelers’ Security Alliance reports that there’s been a nationwide pattern of burglars cutting jewelry stores’ power lines in order to disable alarm systems.

On April 17, JSA issued a crime alert on the burglary of a Laguna Niguel, CA, jewelry store in which the power lines were cut. Burglars came through the roof, cut into a safe and took a large amount of merchandise.

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JSA has now received reports of over 30 cases in which burglars have cut the power lines. It’s happened in Florida, Colorado, California, Indiana, Idaho, Illinois and Utah, as well as in Canada.

The burglars cut the power lines soon after a store has closed for the night, then wait nearby to see the response by the owner or police, according to JSA.

The burglars have not carried out safe burglaries at all of the stores.

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“After cutting the wires, the burglars watch and wait,” JSA stated. “If the burglars feel safe after having witnessed the owner or police response or lack of response to the cut wires, they will break into the store, often by cutting through the roof or sidewall.

“They will then attack the safe, usually cutting into it, and sometimes torching it.”

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Jewelry Chain Looks to Build $13M Headquarters

It will employ about 100 people.

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James Avery, a Texas-based manufacturer that operates 88 stores, is looking to open a second headquarters at a cost of $13 million.

The facility would be located in Cedar Park, TX, KXAN-TV and the Austin Business Journal report.

James Avery Craftsman Inc. is seeking more than $500,000 in economic incentives for the project.

As part of the agreement, the headquarters would need to have a payroll of about $4.9 million by 2025. It would also need to consist of at least 35,000 square feet.

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The Business Journal reports that the facility would have more than 100 employees.

Kerrville-based James Avery, known in part for its Christian-themed jewelry, is particularly popular in its home state of Texas, where it operates 80 stores.

Read more at KXAN-TV

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Video: 3 Millennial Couples Reveal Their True Thoughts On Lab-Grown Diamonds

MVI Marketing has released a new video.

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MVI Marketing has released a new video in which three millennial couples reveal what they think about lab-grown diamonds.

The couples interviewed by MV Eye are all actively shopping for engagement rings.

In the video, which is under three minutes long, they’re asked about topics such as their budget, their shopping preferences and their views on lab-grown diamonds.

Watch the video:


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