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J. Shea Jewelers




[dropcap cap=P]roblems don’t seem to exist in the world of 31-year-old Jeremy Shea Leech. Only opportunities. Whether it’s the recession, gold’s inflationary spiral, his youthful looks (great for marketing CAD/CAM) or his total lack of experience, connections and capital when he started, everything has a plus side if you only look hard enough. “If it wasn’t for my naiveté I might never have done this,” he explains. [/dropcap]

CUSTOMERS EVERYWHERE: Of all the “challenges,” his approach to competition might seem the hardest to understand. Open a jewelry business in Abilene and Leech is likely to be at your doorstop with a warm welcome and a business card. The approach has seen him pick up watch-battery customers from Walmart (which won’t service customers who bought their watch elsewhere), custom-job clients from James Avery who can’t wait for its six-week turnaround time and work from pawn shops, which often need repairs or appraisals.

10,000 CLIENTS: By beating the sidewalk, keeping an open mind and following up on every first-time customer with a card or phone call, Leech has built up a database of 10,000 clients in a little over 10 years. “Come in the store a customer and leave a friend. That’s my goal.”

PERSONALITY: It’s a personality-centered approach that’s driven impressive growth. Since it opened in 1999, his store has enjoyed average annual sales growth of 17 percent a year, even during the recession. This year, from a bigger base, he expects to grow 15 percent to $450,000. “Business comes down to people skills and breaking down barriers,” says Leech, who keeps in touch with his customers through events such as barbecues and phone chats.


COLUMN: The single biggest customer builder, however, has been a column he writes in the local paper. “It has nothing to do with the business. Just some life lessons. I’ve written about my grandmother’s death, when I was robbed. I let people know I am a human, that we all have our crosses to bear. It’s amazing how many customers have come in the door because of something they read.”

[span class=note]This story is from the October 2010 edition of INSTORE[/span]



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Wilkerson Helped This Jeweler to Navigate His Retirement Sale Despite a Pandemic

Hosting a going-out-of-business sale when the coronavirus pandemic hit wasn’t a part of Bob Smith’s game plan for his retirement. Smith, the owner of E.M. Smith Jewelers in Chillicothe, Ohio, says the governor closed the state mid-way through. But Smith chose Wilkerson, and Wilkerson handled it like a champ, says Smith. And when it was time for the state to reopen, the sale continued like nothing had ever happened. “I’d recommend Wilkerson,” he says. “They do business the way we do business.”

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