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Smart Manager: Sally Hufnagle





BY EILEEN MCCLELLAND | Published in the July 2014 issue

Sally Hufnagle, a former city council member, got out of politics and into a job she loved when she discovered the world of retail jewelry. “I love to sell diamonds,” she says. “When I’m selling diamonds, nobody’s ever yelling at me about their garbage not getting picked up!” She’s found her niche at Avalon Jewelers in Mentor, OH, an independent jeweler owned by Jim Mataich that buys gold and sells both fine and fashion jewelry. “I love the stories, I love the creations, I love working for a guy who says take your time to make the customers happy,” Hufnagle says. — EILEEN McCLELLAND

I TRY TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE. I do happen to be the top salesperson in the company right now. That happens because I’m not busying myself with busy work. You need to be in the front of the store and greet the customer. The customer shouldn’t have to find you.

THINK ABOUT where you want to shop and how you feel when you walk in there. In today’s economy I work hard for my money. I’m not going to spend it just anywhere. I want to appreciate the experience.


WHEN SALESPEOPLE ASK ME, “What should I be learning next?” I tell them they should pick out something that they really love and specialize. One gentleman loves watches so that’s his area of expertise. That motivates them to take more pride in the display. It motivates them to do customer follow up. It gives them pride in ownership when they have a part of the store that is theirs.

OWNER JIM MATAICH IS SO GREAT TO WORK FOR. Nobody was standing there saying to me, “Why didn’t you sell him the first day he came in? Why didn’t you close him?” There was nothing I could have done to close him that day. But because I work where I do, all I have to do is say “I’m working on this and my owner says, you know what’s best.”

JEWELRY IS MY FAVORITE THING in the whole world, so in 2005 I applied at the jeweler my family always used. I started in November and by the end of Christmas I was hooked. I loved it. I always liked working with people, and I was able to sell my favorite thing.

MY CURRENT JOB is a little new for me because I have never bought gold before. It’s also the first time that I’ve mixed fine jewelry with fashion jewelry.

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Orin Mazzoni, Jr., the owner of Orin Jewelers in Garden City and Northville, Michigan, decided it was time to downsize. With two locations and an eye on the future, Mazzoni asked Wilkerson to take the lead on closing the Garden City store. Mazzoni met Wilkerson’s Rick Hayes some years back, he says, and once he made up his mind to consolidate, he and Hayes “set up a timeline” for the sale. Despite the pandemic, Mazzoni says the everything went smoothly. “Many days, we had lines of people waiting to get in,” he says, adding that Wilkerson’s professionalism made it all worthwhile. “Whenever you do an event like this, you think, ‘I’ve been doing this my whole life. Do I really need to pay someone to do it for me?’ But then I realized, these guys are the pros and we need to move forward with them.”

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