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Cool Store: David Fairclough Fine Jewelers



Castle Keeper: David Fairclough has built a brand in himself. And his customers love it.

David Fairclough Fine Jewelers

Location: Toledo, OH
Owners: David and Rhonda Fairclough
Year founded: 1974
Opened featured location: November 2002
Area: 3,500 square feet
Architect/design firm: Norman and Associates/Baker Showcase and Display
Interior build-out cost: More than $1 million
Employees: 12
Slogan: Toledo’s Finest Jeweler

David Fairclough Fine Jewelers

David Fairclough is the Mick Jagger and James Bond of Toledo. His English accent has an exotic sound on the radio in northwest Ohio, and he’s been the subject of off-the-wall print ads in which he’s dressed as a rock star, 007 and even royalty. He’s become so mythic, new customers are surprised to discover he’s a real person, and not just a brand symbol, like a Keebler elf or a Jolly Green Giant of jewelry. He’s been in business for 33 years, but has presided over a record growth spurt in the past nine years. He hired Ideal Marketing to run his ad campaign, launched the HeartStar diamond brand and moved from a strip-center location into a new stand-alone building he jokingly calls “the castle.”


Man and the Brand

“It’s funny,” Fairclough says. “People do come in and want to hear me talk. I just don’t have the same sounding voice as most people have here. Whatever works. The trouble is, if I want to be invisible, I have to keep my mouth shut.” Fairclough was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.


At 16 he began a five-year apprenticeship in the jewelry manufacturing arts while attending the Newcastle upon Tyne College of Art and Industrial Design.

In 1965 David moved to the United States for a job in Toledo, and, in 1974 opened his first jewelry store in Sylvania, Ohio. He decided to stay and became a U.S. citizen. He also met his wife, Rhonda, a Toledo native, when they both were working for a local, independent jeweler. “Rhonda was very instrumental in our success,” Fairclough says. “In the early days it was just the two of us and part-time help with me spending a lot of time at the bench with repairs and custom work and Rhonda taking care of the customers and helping with the buying. She’s paid her dues.”

Manager Maxwell Ohnezeit says the brand carries a strong message. “We have built a powerful brand based solely around David,” Ohnezeit says. “Not only is his voice immediately recognizable, but more importantly the message that we are sending is one of integrity and quality. We have grown from ‘Toledo’s best kept secret’ to one of Northwest Ohio’s most recognizable fine jewelers.”


The Heartstar

“Our business had grown all through word of mouth,” Fairclough says. “We got to a level where we couldn’t get any further that way. I knew I needed outside help, but I didn’t want to turn to an ad agency, write them a check and have the campaign fail.”

At the same time he was pondering what to do next, he received a direct-mail piece from Ideal Marketing. “They said they wanted to work with jewelry stores that had a high level of ethics and didn’t use sales gimmicks. I grabbed the phone and said this is the kind of guy I want to have work for me. I called Bruce Freshley and started a radio-ad campaign.” At the same time, he introduced the HeartStar Diamond, which was an overnight success in the market.


“Since the inception of the HeartStar, gross sales have more than tripled,” Ohnezeit says. “Today the HeartStar Diamond is northwest Ohio’s premier diamond and has become one of the flagship brands of David Fairclough Jewelers. Customers are coming in on almost a daily basis asking to see a HeartStar Diamond.” They have since developed a HeartStar Collection, a finished-goods jewelry line, and are introducing HeartStar Squared, the most brilliant square-cut diamond they have seen.


Jewelry in the Round

The growth called for a new location. Fairclough envisioned jewelry theater-in-the-round when designing the interior of the new store. While many stores’ showcases are designed to break up the customers’ walking patterns in order to have them ‘run into jewelry,’ the circular showroom is warm, welcoming and encourages leisurely browsing.

The circular ceiling is recessed and enhanced with four dual-purpose pillars. They are load-bearing, which helped reduce construction costs, but they also add a bit of grandeur to the store, Fairclough says.

Other interior features include a tiered wall display and a custom-built curved customer-service desk. A pneumatic tube saves time and effort when sending merchandise to craftsmen and a master watchmaker in a workshop upstairs. The store’s crowning glory, a 3-by-4-foot chandelier consists of 24K gold-plated bars from which hang 250 faceted crystal balls and two dozen strings of Swarovksi crystal beads. The rows of crystals graduate to a point. The dispersion that is created by the light passing from one ball to another is phenomenal, Fairclough says.


Come to the Castle


David Fairclough has had to walk a fine line between creating a comfortable environment and coming across as too opulent for Toledo, where threshold resistance tends to be strong.

“The store we built could be to some people a little bit intimidating,” Fairclough says. “Some of the feedback from people who came in in the beginning was that they couldn’t afford to shop here.” “Perhaps the hardest thing to do in business is to admit your weaknesses,” Ohnezeit says.

“Our goal is to dominate the engagement-ring business in our marketplace and expand our reach to potential customers. In order to accomplish this goal we have to overcome our greatest weakness… the threshold resistance. So they decided to make fun of themselves, just a little. Fairclough’s radio ads began referring to the store as “a castle,” and Fairclough, ever the good sport, was featured in print ads dressed like a king. “We want to put people at ease and let them know we’re just real people,” Fairclough says.

“We greet everybody with a smile. That is one of the best tools a sales person has. We introduce ourselves. From there I think it’s a matter of chemistry, isn’t it? You treat people the way you would want to be treated. You want them to feel comfortable and relaxed.”


No Sales, no how

The Northwest Ohio customer is typically conservative and blue collar and the store strives to be inclusive. Price points start at $11.

“We take pride in the fact that we have quality merchandise in all price points and we truly feel the $1,000 engagement ring is as important as the $10,000 engagement ring,” Ohnezeit says. “No matter what their budget people can buy quality if they know what to look for.” But the store has never had a sale. “I know as a shopper myself, I don’t want to have to wonder if I should come back tomorrow because it’s going to be 30 percent off,” Fairclough says.

“We mark our merchandise fairly and offer a good value. Our customers like the fact that they don’t have to come in the store and chase down the owner for a special deal of the day.” — Eileen McClelland


David Fairclough, owner

David Fairclough

1What is your sales philosophy? We definitely don’t pressure people because I hate pressure when I shop.

2What specifically did you do to make HeartStar such a success in the Toledo market? We introduced it as a radio campaign. We focused on the young, single male, 25 to 35, and they listen to a lot of radio. We advertise on country, rock and talk radio. I established myself and my store as a brand, and the HeartStar diamond as the brand to buy.

3Where did you find the store’s chandelier? Rhonda and I were visiting relatives in the San Francisco area, sightseeing on the wharf. We were browsing through a home appointments store and spotted this beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling. It had a design that emulates an Oriental temple and looked quite majestic. Well, it wouldn’t fit in our suitcase, and besides we wanted to purchase it locally in Toledo. We ordered through a local lighting store and it is a wonderful addition to the showroom.

4Name one thing that has helped you grow recently. The addition of Rolex as our premier watch line. We always wanted to have it but when we were in the strip center, we didn’t have the presence that Rolex would like. We reapplied when we moved into the new building and we were very fortunate to get the line.

5What are your goals? To continually streamline our operation, improve the quality of service that we have. And one day retire, who knows?


Said in the store

I’d like to see a HeartStar diamond … So there really is a David Fairclough … and is Glenn Beck really a customer?” Owner david fairclough ranks the top three comments he hears from customers. National talk radio and television personality Glenn Beck is a customer and a spokesman for the store. Says Fairclough: “It has been a powerful endorsement, especially around the holidays.



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This story is from the February 2008 edition of INSTORE



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