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Right Place, Right Time

Fourth-generation owner meets the challenges of evolving consumer behavior.



Springer’s Jewelers, Portsmouth, NH

OWNER: Lilly Beaulieu Mullen; URL:; RENOVATED: 2023; FOUNDED: 1870; Opened featured location: 2000; AREA: 2,200 square feet; OTHER LOCATIONS: Bath, ME and Portland, ME; TOP BRANDS: Rolex, Hearts on Fire, Marco Bicego, Fope, Kwiat, Christopher Designs, Tudor, Tacori; EMPLOYEES: 52

Lilly Beaulieu Mullen

Lilly Beaulieu Mullen

LILLY BEAULIEU MULLEN, president of Springer’s Jewelers, jokes that the 153-year-old family business is the oldest startup known to man.

Springer’s Jewelers is Maine’s oldest operating jewelry store and one of the oldest fine jewelers in the United States. But planning for and facilitating rapid growth can feel like starting from scratch. Mullen, working with two siblings and two cousins representing the fourth generation, has renovated and relocated stores, launched a new e-commerce website, and, in the past two years, doubled the size of the team.

Despite her dedication to the business, Mullen says a love of jewelry wasn’t the driving force behind her interest. “I will be the first to admit that jewelry itself was never really a passion of mine,” Mullen says. “I get teased about that all the time.

“Passion is one of our core values, but you don’t necessarily need a passion for jewelry; you can have a passion for data or inventory management or for developing team members. My interest wasn’t specifically around the jewelry side of it, but having a business, growing a business is.”

Mullen, a millennial, joined Springer’s in 2008 with a business and marketing degree. “What drew me in is the challenge of being able to create something and the opportunity to not only be a part of my family’s legacy but to take that legacy to the next level,” she says. “Former generations have done that, too, in their own way. This is just what it looks like for us.”


George T. Springer established Springer’s in 1870 to offer optical goods, stationery, artist’s materials, “fancy goods” and fine jewelry. In 1925, Edmund Beaulieu bought the store from the Springer family, and it has been owned by the Beaulieu family for four generations.

At the beginning of Mullen’s tenure, the industry was abuzz about the challenge of selling to millennials. It seemed to be all anybody talked about. “It was almost like right place, right time, because we knew how to talk to and sell to millennials,” Mullen says. “We were living our lives and cutting through the fog and understanding it because we WERE that person and that demographic.”

Mullen’s experience as an over-analyzed millennial gave her some perspective as Gen Z moved into the bridal market. Mullen and her team know not to stereotype when it comes to Gen Z. “With millennials, it was SO generalized,” she says. “Now we realize it’s not helpful, that there are still different segments within these groups.”

That realization enables the Springer’s team to focus on clients as individuals.

A focus on the individual extends to Springer’s 50-person staff. An emphasis on flexible scheduling and continuing education helps Springer’s attract and retain team members, and it better equips them to be genuine and effective on the floor.

“If people feel like they can grow professionally while still being able to have family lives,” Mullen says, “then they’re a lot happier, more confident, and better able authentically to connect with clients.”


In 2000, Springer’s Portsmouth, NH, store moved into 100 Market, a high-end building at the gateway to downtown. It’s also home to the 100 Club, New England’s premier private club.

The 2023 expansion of 100 Market had not been in Mullen’s plans, but when a restaurant across the hall went out of business during the pandemic, Springer’s was able to secure that space as well as the building’s main entrance and front hall. Because they’d been relocating another store at the time this opportunity came along, they were careful to stick to a budget to manage multiple building projects.

The majority of the additional space they acquired was dedicated to the Rolex environment, which includes a Rolex watchmaker.

Mullen designed most of the store, including the layout, finishes and a backlit wooden installation behind the bar. “It’s always been a passion of mine, and I worked with a designer in our other locations,” she says. “This has been my fourth renovation, and it built my confidence.”

They refaced, rather than replaced, the showcases, transforming them from dark cherry with molding and inlay to a contemporary walnut style. Sticking with the traditional case lines presented some challenges in creating seating areas, something they’ve moved toward in their other locations. But they did find space for a seating area in front of a bookshelf and created a bar and beverage center.


Mullen likens the walnut and granite bar to a giant kitchen island where consultations, repair intake and relaxation occur. There’s beer on tap and an espresso machine. “In a luxury way, it’s very kitchen feeling,” she says. “The impact we wanted to make was experiential. An open flow with a kitchen island brings people to the back of the store and creates more seating areas.”

The biggest impact, though, was having the front door of the building open directly into the store. “Before, you had to enter a lobby and go down a hallway,” she says. That move required some ingenuity: A system of folding glass walls is deployed to create a hallway through the middle of the store after hours to ensure the entrance could be used in an emergency.

A few building regulars walk through the store to gain entry to their offices, but most people use other entrances throughout the day to access offices, a city club and an upstairs restaurant. “We have a client specialist who greets every client; we’ve become the unofficial greeter for the building,” Mullen says. “I was very lucky that the landlord and I have a good relationship. Between him, me, and the architect, we were able to bring that to fruition.”

This 153-Year-Old New England Jewelry Retailer Is Focused on the Future

In addition to the Rolex environment, Springer’s has distinct shop-in-shops for Tudor and Hearts on Fire.

Within showcases, while brands are clearly identified, the displays are consistent for a cohesive look.

“The brand logo is part of the display, the brand color is brought in, and we might add some of their props,” Mullen says. “That solidifies their place in the store, but because it is all one color, it allows us to add, grow, or shrink. We find the consistency gives the store a lot of flow. It allows us a lot of flexibility in giving brands real estate and making changes easily.”

Brand stories are told on TVs throughout the showroom, which are managed by the marketing team and integrated into social media, both through content and style.

In addition to traditional brands, Mullen and team have introduced brands that appeal to self-purchasers, like Dana Rebecca Designs, and launched an in-house brand, Sincerely Springer’s, which features attainable gold and diamond jewelry as well as bridal staples.

One obvious way the pandemic changed the business is in client engagement, making appointments a part of the culture now. Springer’s tracks both walk-ins and appointments to ensure staffing levels are on target. “Figuring out a way to track that and develop those systems was a huge undertaking,” Mullen says.

Guest specialists greet every client and keep track of why they are there, then that information goes into the company’s software, which can even suggest where business growth lies based on the reason for each visit.

Although jewelry wasn’t what drew Mullen to join and lead the family business initially, she recognizes its allure.

“I get excited about new pieces when they speak to me personally,” she says. “There’s something about jewelry that draws you in, of course. I do appreciate it and know the value.”


Five Cool Things About Springer’s Jewelers

1. FOCUS ON DATA. For years, Springer’s Jewelers’ marketing department and website management have been in house, allowing for flexibility. Now the focus has moved to data analysis. “A big change for us is spending time and energy developing systems to analyze marketing,” Mullen says. “We’re focused on the data and analytics behind marketing campaigns.”

2. VINTAGE. Throughout its history, Springer’s has bought jewelry over the counter from customers. Mullen’s sister, Zoe Beaulieu Garcia, is a graduate gemologist and director of the liquidation department. Springer’s has a strong focus on sustainability, growing its PAGE Estate Collection and launching the 1870 Collection, a signature line of bracelets, rings, and necklaces, featuring vintage stones and repurposed settings.

This 153-Year-Old New England Jewelry Retailer Is Focused on the Future

3. DIGITAL WISHLISTS. Springer’s launched a digital wish-list campaign, empowering women to create their own wish lists online (birthday, anniversary, holiday and just because) so they get exactly what they want. Or they can remind themselves to celebrate with a self-purchase.

4. GIVEAWAYS. Springer’s is known for its promotions. For the Let It Snow promotion, if it snowed 6 inches or more on Christmas Day, certain holiday purchases became free. In 1947, the win-a-diamond giveaway, which marked the move to a new location, invited customers to buy a small box for $1; one lucky buyer found a diamond inside. Most recently, Instagram giveaways celebrate the power of jewelry.

5. AUTHENTIC SOCIAL. A devotion to authenticity drives Springer’s robust presence on Instagram and Facebook. “It helps us show people that we’re not just a chain store,” Mullen says. “We’re real people who wear these pieces in our everyday lives.” When planning a photo shoot for their in-house lines, like Sincerely Springer’s and the PAGE Estate Collection, Springer’s focuses on showing real women wearing real jewelry.


  • JESSE BALAITY: This is a good demonstration of how to use standardized showcases effectively. The understated details and walnut veneers make the non-branded showcases feel like an extension of the Rolex atmosphere. The large curvilinear bar is inviting, mitigating any sense of formality.
  • GABRIELLE GRAZI: Modern with an heirloom twist. This team understands how to bridge the past and the present to provide an integrated experience through their marketing channels, fabulous array of jewelry and the heritage experience they create for their multi-generational clients.
  • LARRY JOHNSON: A wonderful store that offers appropriate product selection attractively presented in a fitting space. REBECCA RAU: I love the lega
  • REBECCA RAU: I love the legacy plus the fresh take on content within the marketing materials.


Try This: Update the Shopping Experience

Springer’s salespeople have iPads, which they use to create special collections and share them with clients, take notes about what they like, create and email secure payment links so customers have a touchless payment option, and send text reminders. Springer’s chat feature allows a customer to deal directly with a salesperson online. All online orders include a handwritten thank-you note and are shipped free of charge.



She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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