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LL Pavorsky Jewels and Gifts

A warm stake in philly

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LL Pavorsky Jewels and Gifts, SPhiladelphia, PA

URL: llpavorsky.com; OWNER: Lee Pavorsky; FOUNDED: 1988; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 1993; RENOVATION: 2005; NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 3


LEE PAVORSKY’s personal touch is evident in all aspects of his business, from the fact he designed his store’s interior to the time he spends with clients, ensuring they get the custom-made piece they had imagined. In 2005, he gutted the interior of the 18th century, federal-style townhouse to which he relocated in 1993, ensuring he made the most efficient use of his 650-square-foot showroom space and achieving the warm but sophisticated gallery-like store he had always wanted.

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Five Cool Things About LL Pavorsky Jewels and Gifts

1. RETHINKING THE STORE.  He was looking for a way to use his space more effectively than the traditional jewelry-case layout allowed. “I wanted an island in the center of the store,” Pavorsky says. “I wanted people to be able to walk around and completely experience the environment.” But the architects and designers he contacted weren’t on board with his concepts and seemed determined to steer him toward something more “cookie-cutter.” So he took on the project himself, designing everything, including the 14-inch cases. “It was a little nerve-racking, but I knew what I wanted,” he says. “The only moment of angst I really had was knowing that if there were a problem, I couldn’t point my finger at anyone but me. When they delivered the cases, I looked at them and thought they were never going to fit. I panicked a little bit but after they laid everything out — it was perfect.” Architectural details and a marble fireplace add warmth while floating glass shelves on steel cables give the space a gallery vibe. “I was looking for something sophisticated, but still warm and inviting,” he says.

2. BEDSIDE MANNER.  As a youth, Pavorsky had volunteered in retirement homes and emergency rooms before becoming a pre-med major in college. He says he was drawn to medicine, not only because it was a family tradition, but also because he enjoyed personal interaction with patients. But a year he spent in Italy on Temple University’s Rome campus took his life in a whole new direction. Under the influence of art history classes, and seeing the artwork of masters everywhere he looked, he was inspired to find his own creative outlet. That turned out to be jewelry. He applied to Temple’s Tyler School of Art to learn the aesthetics and attended GIA for the practical side of the trade. In 1988, with the help of his parents, he opened his first store. His bedside manner is still an asset as his finely honed listening skills are channeled into working with young couples eager to express themselves in unique, custom-designed rings.

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3. ADDING GIFTWARE.  The merchandise mix adds to the inviting nature of the store. “When we moved to this location we expanded to carry unusual giftware, art ware, ceramics and handmade items,” he says. “We wanted to set ourselves apart as a little different, and we also wanted to reduce threshold resistance. When you have art glass in the window, people feel comfortable coming in. Not every occasion is a jewelry occasion and we have other things to offer to our customers.”

4. A CUSTOM EXPERIENCE. The custom design process can be broken into two camps, Pavorsky explains. “We’ll have couples interested in unique engagement rings, we’ll show them different styles and they will bring me pictures of what they like or they will go through certain aspects of my inventory that can be combined, and then we do drawings, wax models and then the finished project.” The other aspect of custom design is redesign. It’s like having jigsaw-puzzle pieces without a picture of the finished puzzle. “Everybody always has something they bought years ago that they don’t enjoy anymore or that was inherited or given to them,” Pavorsky says. “What I love to do is transform old pieces into another item or multiple items that they will wear. It makes you feel like Houdini when you take these old pieces apart and put them back together in a new way. They are always amazed.”

5. NO-PRESSURE APPROACH. Pavorsky puts no pressure on his sales staff to make the sale or even turn the sale over.
Instead, he stresses relationship building. “The last thing we talk about is price range. We don’t say, ‘What do you want to spend?’ Once I find out what style appeals to them, that style can be tailored to any budget that is comfortable to them. We invest the time to find out what they want as opposed to what they can spend. That has been key in making people feel very comfortable.”

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Five Questions with Lee Pavorsky

1. LL PAVORSKY JEWELS AND GIFTS HAS BEEN VOTED “BEST PLACE TO BUY JEWELRY IN PHILADELPHIA” BY PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER FIVE TIMES SINCE 2000. WHAT SETS YOU APART? It is a completely personalized experience. It’s not a chain store — we don’t have people who read tags and sell you items that are mass-produced. It’s about finding out their likes and dislikes and transforming them into a piece of jewelry they like and will wear for many years. I welcome people into my store like I would welcome them into my home and I think that means a lot.

2. HOW DO YOU PROMOTE THE STORE? I maintain a list of around 1,500 people to whom we send e-mail newsletters and promotions. Every year we have a catered, customer-appreciation party at the store before Christmas.

3. HOW DO YOU GO THE EXTRA MILE FOR CLIENTS? Every employee is imbued with the objective of helping a customer any way we can. We don’t solicit repairs or battery changes but for a customer, we will do anything and everything. I’m happy to repair and maintain their jewelry.

4. WHAT HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE JEWELRY BUSINESS? I would say the relationships that I have made with young couples. I’ve been married for 19 years, and I enjoy the interactions I have with couples getting engaged, getting married, having families. I always have conversations with guys about engagement ideas, conversations with couples about the craziness of planning the wedding. I share my experiences with them.

5. YOUR WEBSITE IS BOTH EASY TO USE AND DISTINCTIVE. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE? I make it very personal. I want to tell you about me, and give you a feel for what it’s all about here. At that point you e-mail or call or stop in. That’s how the relationship starts. It’s not an e-commerce site. It’s a very personalized approach to a very impersonal medium. My customers know if they e-mail me, it goes right to my phone and I can e-mail them back.

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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