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Real Deal: 50 Years of Doing the Right Thing

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50 Years of Doing the Right Thing

The latest generation of Blumenthals carries on a legacy
of commitment, hard work and integrity

B Y   K A T E    P E T E R S O N

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Each year, our December Real Deal tells a story that helps bring to mind the privilege afforded us by our industry and that reminds us why we do what we do. This year, we share the story of three generations of the Blumenthal family and Corinne Jewelers in Toms River, NJ. Like many family businesses, their story is one of commitment, hard work and integrity. For Ryan Blumenthal, the current owner, the lessons learned from his father and grandfather became the blueprint for navigating remarkably challenging times. This is about those lessons, and about that legacy, as seen through Ryan’s eyes.

OCT. 29, 2012: “It wasn’t until a few days before Hurricane Sandy hit that the authorities started to tell us it was going to be bad. Still, we could have never imagined what was to come. It was our own perfect storm — and Toms River and the Jersey shore were ‘ground zero.’ In truth, we were blessed. My family and all of our employees were safe. Our store was unharmed except for some ripped off awnings, damaged signs and missing roof tiles, so we fared far better than many of our neighbors. On the 10th day, power was restored and we were able to reopen.

“The months following Sandy were tough — on people and on business, but eventually we all needed to feel good again. Now, almost two years later, there is widespread construction in the area, and many people who left after Sandy are finally coming home.”

For Corinne Jewelers, 2012 was a year of building and development, ending with disaster. 2013 was a year of recovery. 2104 has brought long-awaited growth and change.

“We celebrated our 50th year in business this year with a massive top-to-bottom renovation. The project was started long before Sandy and while the storm slowed us down it finally became a reality in August. Throughout the renovation, I spent a lot of time thinking about our past, and about all of the lessons on which I would need to rely if I were going to be successful leading the Corinne team into the future.”

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Mel & Corinne

Over 50 years ago, Mel Blumenthal promised to put his wife’s name up in lights. A man of his word, he bought the inventory from a New York City jeweler who was going out of business, and put up the sign for Corinne Jewelers in 1964.

“I lost my grandfather last December on Christmas Eve. It was his favorite time of year. My grandmother teased that he waited for me to get off work on Christmas Eve and to know that we made our numbers before he passed.

“Grandpa taught me so many things about business and life. He was a true entrepreneur success story. My grandfather did not come from money, nor do I think it was all that important to him. His primary driver was his love of people. On one of his ‘good nights’ in the hospital we got to talk a bit. I asked him what he missed most about being in the store. He told me he ‘missed talking to everyone.’ It was the simplest thing — yet if you knew my grandfather it made all the sense in the world. He loved everyone and he genuinely didn’t care if you were there that day for a watch battery or to buy a big diamond. That’s how Corinne Jewelers started. One customer at a time fell in love with my grandfather because they knew he was sincere. They knew and could feel that he really wanted them to have great service and a great product. Honesty, integrity, hard work and a little bit of luck combined, and Corinne Jewelers flourished, becoming a household name in our community.”


Craig & Mary

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“My dad, Craig, is a true perfectionist whose attention to detail set the standard for our business. I think he gravitated to the jewelry bench because of that. We were the first full-service shop in our area because of my dad. People trusted him completely because of his expertise and integrity. From the time my sister Tami and I started working in the business, whenever we ran into a sticky question, he would simply tell us ‘we always do the right thing.’

“My mother, Mary has taught me a lot, but probably the most important thing is that your energy and how you approach things is everything (along with a little hard work). At the retirement party we hosted for my (very young) mom and dad, customers lined up to wish them well and hand them gifts. I couldn’t believe it. We are the ones that should be thanking our customers — but my parents meant so much to them that they just wanted to show their appreciation. How many retailer/customer relationships in other industries are like that?”


Ryan & Ally

“My wife, Ally, a lot like my mother, can light up a room. There is something genuine and honest about her that inspires confidence and trust in friends and customers alike. She now spends most of her time taking care of our beautiful daughters. She still loves the store, though, and I love it when she’s here. I’m proud of what we’ve done so far, even though it’s just the beginning of our ‘shift.’ With each challenge, we just pick up, dust off and keep moving forward. Through it all, in the five years since we’ve taken over as the ‘Blumenthals in charge,’ our business has nearly doubled.

“This will be my 10th Christmas in the business, and I still feel there is so much more to learn. I hope I always feel this way. It’s exciting and it fills me with purpose. I tell my associates that we are a 50-year-old company that I want to behave like it’s our first year in business. I want us to appreciate every sale and every customer, and to never take our success for granted. Our job is to push ourselves, to make mistakes and learn from them, to change and to grow — both as individuals and as a team.

“I’ve been thinking about this Christmas for years. There’s nothing in our way: no recession, no hurricane, no more renovation work. I can’t wait to put it all together and stand with my team at 4 p.m. on Dec. 24. We’ll raise a glass to the biggest holiday we’ve ever had. I’ll look at the pictures of Pops and Dad on the store’s walls and I’ll know they are both very proud of us.

“For me, our renovation was more than just changing colors, doubling in size and adding more inventory. It was all about embracing change. The challenges we face as independent jewelers are great, but I believe in small business. I believe that no large entity can deliver the kind of personal, ‘family’ service that we can. In this challenging and changing time, what matters most to people are still those virtues that my grandfather, my father, and now I hold dear: honesty, integrity, quality and outstanding service.”

This article originally appeared in the December 2014 edition of INSTORE

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