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True Colors

A bold Main Street presence reflects a Wisconsin store’s artistry within.

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The Goldsmith, Fond du Lac, WI

OWNERS: Ron and Terri Emanuel; URL:thegoldsmithfdl.com; FOUNDED: 1974; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 1986; LAST RENOVATED: 2015;EMPLOYEES: 4; AREA: 1,575 square feet; TOP BRANDS: Artistry, Bassali Jewelry Co., Frank Reubel Designs, Gabriel & Co., Gottlieb & Sons, I Reiss, Officinia Bernardi; ONLINE PRESENCE: 545 Facebook likes; 4.8 Stars on Facebook; Alexa global rank: 16.6 million


THE RIOT OF BOLD color on the façade of The Goldsmith may be unexpected in downtown Fond du Lac, WI — more representative of Key West or New Orleans, perhaps — but owner Terri Emanuel says it advertises the artistic spirit contained within those walls.

“It should look like an artist works here,” she says. “We started with orange, and then decided on the awning, which is a true purple, then added the lime green for accents.” That color scheme is reflected on the store’s bags and throughout its branding message, including billboards. Terri and Ron Emanuel made the bold move years ago and in the past eight to 10 years they’ve noticed other downtown businesses embracing a more vibrant color scheme than the typical burgundy, navy and light blue of traditional Fond du Lac.

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Although their color choices precluded them from financial incentives offered to downtown businesses with more traditional restoration schemes, the downtown merchant council has been supportive of their choices.

Their exterior hints not only at the artistic flair within but also the fun atmosphere in general, says Terri, who leads the sales and marketing effort at The Goldsmith. “It’s a happy place, it’s a fun place. When we look outside and have 2 to 3 feet of snow, it’s warm in here and happy.”

Goldsmith Ron Emanuel was educated in the technical execution of jewelry repair and design. His father, Henry, a German immigrant, owned a mall jewelry store, where Ron and his sisters worked. Never feeling comfortable in the traditional environment of jewelry retail, Ron opened his own store with an emphasis on personal designs and custom creations, initially in a local mall, and later on Main Street with his wife, Terri, and now, son Josh, a GIA-certified gemologist appraiser.

Terri and Ron balance each other, personality-wise, she confides.

“My husband is such an artist and I’m such a realist. We are complete polar opposites. He’s the dreamer; he’s the visionary. He is the stereotypical artist who doesn’t value his work — monetarily — like other people do. He is rarely completely satisfied with his work.” So they arrive at prices together.

The building was at one point a bar. Its exposed brick and narrow floor space create an intimate and welcoming space as well as organizational challenges. “Many guests who visit our store come in and remember days of meeting their friends for a drink, some conversation and an opportunity to unwind,” Terri says. “The days of the downtown bar have passed, but the memories and stories still are part of who we are.”

Who they are, at heart, is honest and Midwestern.

“I think that in general the Midwest is a different group of people,” Terri says. “I think most of our guests are generational. Ron’s been doing this for 40-plus years, and now he’s making engagement rings for the grandchildren of people he started with. (About 40 percent of their business is bridal.) People have a certain expectation of what they are going to get, which includes superior customer service. People here are trustworthy and honest.”
Their sense of place also inspired Ron to design a lake-pendant keepsake. Lake Winnebago is a 40 mile long freshwater lake, and a popular fishing and boating area.

“As lake dwellers, we enjoy the water and thought we should find a way to bring it to our jewelry creations,” Terri says. “Ron had the insight to begin with a lake he knew well and Lake Winnebago, because of its length captures a huge audience. With the availability of Google Earth, Ron is able to pinpoint the exact location of someone’s “special spot” on the lake and that is where he sets a diamond, or other gemstone.”

One customer asked Ron to design five pendants, giving them to her children living all over the world. “She thought it would give them the permanence of their home on the lake, in a small, but concrete way and she was thrilled with their reactions,” Terri recalls. “As we all know, those types of rewards in this business are more important than the monetary ones. The lake idea has blossomed and The Goldsmith produces pendants for lakes, all over the world.”

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Five Cool Things About The Goldsmith

1. Location: “Ron and I have always looked at it as an advantage to be downtown,” Terri says. “We know it’s a destination store. We appreciate so much the fact that they choose us, when they could easily choose the big-box stores.” The couple try to keep it fresh. In 2015, they painted and added stone tile flooring. “We’re trying to keep the integrity of the space, but also want to keep it updated.”

2. MEDIA: “We do a lot with digital billboards and we have done some local television. But we have been very fortunate with word of mouth, and we are very, very involved in our community. That in itself has brought in a lot of customers,” Terri says.

3. Art walk: The Friday night art walk in downtown Fond du Lac brings together local musicians and promotes downtown shopping year round.

4. Philanthropy: Ron has made pendants, rings, pins and other pieces of jewelry for nearly every non-profit organization in our area. The sterling silver medallion worn by Marian University’s president was designed and constructed by Ron. Last year, The Goldsmith donated more than 100 pieces of jewelry to groups serving the needs of others. “Charitable giving is important to our family. It is our belief the burden is always lessened when it is shared.”

5. Add-on opportunities: In addition to jewelry, the Emanuels sell giftware and craft items, particularly hand-blown glass, ceramic pieces and Elin Design Clocks, displayed near the front of the store. “People purchase a piece of jewelry, see the clocks and add that to what they purchased that day,” Terri says. “It’s a good opportunity for add-on sales.” The clocks retail for $65-$70. The main criterion for choosing gift items is “Does it make our customer smile?”

TRY THIS

The Goldsmith uses torn pieces of bright, handmade paper to display jewelry. “I look at the way everyone else displays their jewelry and it never made sense to me that people follow that protocol,” says Terri, who has a background in teaching. “We had a merchant here who sold handmade paper, and I started purchasing it from her. Everyone really liked the look, and it’s easy enough to change for spring or for Christmas time. It may not work for everyone, but it just works for us.”

 

PHOTO GALLERY (10 Images)

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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