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Manfredi Jewels -“Cool” Story

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Manfredi Jewels
Greenwich, CT
URL: manfredijewels.com
Owner: Roberto Chiappelloni
Year Founded: 1988
Expanded Featured Location: June 2008
Architect: Ron Gushue
Store Area: 3,300 square feet
Interior Build-Out Cost: $1 million
Employees: 11
Slogan: "Bringing the finest jewelry and watches in the world to the most sophisticated clientele in the world"

Manfredi Jewels’ name isn’t inaccurate, but might be anachronistic – which is ironic, because otherwise, Manfredi is literally one of the most timely stores in the world. The shop, in wealthy Greenwich, CT, started as a retail outlet for jewelry designer Giulio Manfredi, who grew up in the same Northern Italian village as owner Roberto Chiappelloni, and while it still carries plenty of beautiful baubles, the bulk of its inventory consists of very high-end watches, some with a price tag above half a million dollars. That focus, combined with a serious commitment to customer care, has made Manfredi a go-to destination for clients from all over. – Josh Wimmer

 

5 Cool Things


Watch fans
1. "I’m really fortunate to have employees who own 10 watches each or more," Chiappelloni says. "They’re almost collectors themselves." That translates into a passion for the merchandise that’s a must if you want to sell super-luxe timepieces. "With a lot of fashion jewelry, you don’t have to exhibit the same level of product knowledge you do with a watch," says store manager David Goldsmith. But it’s necessary in this surprisingly small niche, he says. "Fine watches are a market that has yet to be exploited in the U.S. Sit down with a group of businessmen here, and half of them are still going to be wearing a Timex."

In-house repairs
2. Chief master watchmaker Laif Anderson leads a repair department that handles about 90 percent of the watch problems they’re faced with – meaning customers don’t have to go weeks with bare wrists while their repair travels to the factory and back. And Anderson deals with clients directly. "Laif could be a salesperson," sales associate Robert Weintraub says. "That’s important, because dealing with repairs can be very frustrating, but he can explain everything to clients."

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Sid-by-side selling
3. A renovation and expansion in 2008 gave the space an elliptical UFO-like shape that allows the store to showcase dozens of lines, which presents its own challenges. "Setting up these brands is like seating relatives at a wedding," Chiappelloni says. "They have personalities." The new layout lets staff work right next to clients, however, easing the process. "We have a philosophy that we are more literally than any other store on the client’s side," Goldsmith says.

DIY sessions
4. "I’ll gladly open up a customer’s watch and show them the movements," says Anderson. And at store parties, clients have gotten the chance to try it themselves. "We give them tools and a lab coat, and they get an appreciation for what really goes into making a fine watch – how intricate the parts are," says Chiappelloni.

House calls
5. "Greenwich has a lot of beautiful old clocks, and they require a lot of maintenance," says Chiappelloni. To that end, specialist Mark Ufberg makes house calls, approximately once a week or more.

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Cater to collectors
In 2008 Manfredi began hosting a small group of watch-collector clients (usually 10 to 14) and serving a four-course, sit-down meal inside the store complete with a presentation from a world-class watchmaker and an opportunity to handle (and in one case, even disassemble!) the newest introductions from the world’s great watch companies. Each guest receives a gift at the end of the evening, a cashmere scarf or a professional watchmaker’s toolkit, for example.

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Call upon staff’s talents
Giving an employee the chance to show off a non-work-related talent can be good for everyone. Weintraub is a trained opera singer, and Manfredi harnesses his talents on a regular basis. "When I’m called upon, I always have a song ready to go, and have no qualms about singing a cappella," he says. "I’d be stupid not to do it. Clients remember me, and I’ve even had some come see me perform with the symphony."

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