Davis Jewelers: With Us, It’s Personal

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Davis Jewelers of Louisville, Kentucky has an interesting and unexpected history. Now in its fourth generation of Davis family ownership, things are definitely different today than they were at the start.

Davis Jewelers began in the 1920’s when Henry Davis came to the United States from Russia. He started the family business as a simple general store. However, when the Depression hit, the store took on a new shape as people began to bring in goods to trade. They brought in clothes, assorted jewelry, and various items of value in exchange for items they needed more during the hard times.

“Some of the things that [the store] took in to trade, helped it naturally evolve into a pawn/fire arms/sporting goods business,” explained Ashley Davis Sigman, the current Vice President of Davis Jewelers.

The store, at the time officially a pawn shop, was run through the 1950s by Henry’s son, Arthur “Skip” Davis. The business continued until Arthur’s son Hank Davis, the current CEO and President of Davis Jewelers, graduated from the University of Louisville in 1979 and took over some of the control.

“When my dad officially took over the family business, he knew he no longer wanted to be a pawn broker or a general merchant. He knew he wanted to get more into the business of selling fine jewelry,” explains Ashley.

Hank then went on to meet some of the vendors his father had used for years. After those meetings, he was truly in awe of the jewelry business. These meetings solidified Hank’s desire for selling diamonds and fine jewelry, which was truly a pivotal moment for the future of the family business. It was a decision that ultimately established the foundation of what Davis Jewelers is today.

At first the business kept its ties to both sides. Arthur Davis ran his side as he had been for many years, but now there was a new diamond and fine jewelry sales side within the company.

“The business ran like that for many years. Operating under the name Davis and Sons, the company began to evolve once again. During a store remodel that Hank did in the early nineties, the business was divided into fine jewelry, pawn and even tennis,” says Ashley.

“It seems like a weird element, but at the time, we were one of the top retailers of tennis equipment in Kentucky,” explains Ashley.

“At this point the business was renamed Davis Center because that is what it had turned into at the time. It was now a center of a several different departments,” says Ashley.

As time when, the trend of stand-alone jewelry superstores began to grow. Hank knew this was the direction he wanted to take the business and began to look for a new location for the store away from the downtown location. In 2001, he found one. With a brand new store and official Davis Jewelers location, Hank quickly realized that the majority of sales were coming from the new location and decided to sell the space in downtown Louisville and operate everything from one place.

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Today Davis Jewelers is a successful fine jewelry store that focuses on loose diamonds, engagement rings and diamond fashion jewelry. They carry Rolex as well as other designer brands such as David Yurman.

“The business has definitely evolved,” says Ashley. This evolution has not only been important to the success of the family business, but specifically to Davis Jewelers today. The Louisville store not only knows how to stay up to date with trends, they set them. They have proven they know how to change with the times and maintain relevancy.

One of the main reasons Davis Jewelers was able to find success was the careful planning of the current location. Extensive research was done and the demographics within the radius of the city of Louisville were carefully studied. This allowed for the store to be perfectly located for the Davis Jewelers client.

“There were a lot of people who knew about Davis Jewelers when we were located downtown, but they refused to drive down there,” recalls Ashley. Davis Jewelers saw an increase in the success of their business because potential clients, who had always known about the store, finally decided to start shopping at the new location.

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The new location was critical for success, but there was also critical value in the store itself. Davis Jewelers was one of the first big freestanding jewelry stores to be built in Louisville. The quality alone drew in new clients and kept old clients returning time after time.

In addition to an excellent location, the accomplishments of Davis Jewelers come also from the importance they place on marketing. From radio ads to targeted direct mail and print pieces, the Louisville jewelry store stays connected and keeps itself relevant in today’s ever-changing world. They maintain a clean, flawless and modern website as well as a strong social media presence. Davis Jewelers even utilizes text messaging and email blasts in their campaigns.

“Being involved in the community is also an important part of who we are,” says Ashley, “We are the Official Fine Jeweler of the Kentucky Derby Festival, for example.”

The foundation of Davis Jewelers’ success relies heavily on the importance they place on building relationships. “With Us, It’s Personal,” is the slogan of the store and personal connection is what drives the staff of Davis Jewelers to operate at their best.

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“I really push my team to focus their client base on referrals and retention, which is the core of what we do,” explains Ashley. “We absolutely love when new clients come in to the store and we enjoy establishing long term relationships with our clients even more,” she continues.

“We are relational not transactional and I want that to always remain true with our clients,” says Ashley.

“I’m dedicated to the clients that comes in and buy an engagement ring, and then I get to help them with their first baby, and then their five year anniversary. I want to see my clients and really build that close-knit relationship with them. I want to have that family feel; that “Cheers” feeling, where everybody knows your name,” says Ashley. It’s this kind of attitude that really makes clients comfortable when they are in the store, and that is not something they forget, so they continue to come back.

“Big jewelry stores like ours still have this impression that they are too expensive, or that they are potentially cold or unapproachable. We really try to relate to our clients [at Davis Jewelers]. We try to convey that we are approachable, relatable and relational – that’s who we want to be. We want to be your personal jeweler,” Ashley explains.

The overall accomplishments of Davis Jewelers have not come without setbacks. With the economy struggling 2008, the store was forced to take a hard look at their business and decide what was most relevant at the time.

“We took a look at the pieces carried in the store and made changes to our inventory to stay relevant. We phased out certain vendors that didn’t make sense anymore and brought in new vendors that were more strategic. A lot of it was taking out the designer diamond brands and going into the designer sterling brands to hit the right price point,” explains Ashley.

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When a jewelry business is struggling, “sometimes you just need to step back and look at the business with fresh eyes,” suggests Ashley. “Sometimes [owners] are too laser focused on their business and they need to step back and relook at it as a whole. Whether that means adding an additional advisor, using a business coach or a marketing coach, business owners always need to be challenging themselves to improve,” she continues.

“A lot of time we [as business owners] are very involved in being IN our business and not working ON our business,” Ashley points out. This is an easy habit for owners to form and the reason a lot of businesses sometimes find themselves struggling. Flexibility is critical; businesses need to be willing to adapt and evolve to fit the needs of their clients.

To improve a business, “talk to different owners in different markets. Always glean good ideas from them. Whether that’s team related, business related, finance related, it helps to look at other jewelers and see what works for them, and then tailor it to yourself,” says Ashley.

“One thing that I had learned from a previous CEO that I have always liked,” begins Shannon Haste, the Director of Marketing for Davis Jewelers, “Always do what you’ve always done, and you’ll be lucky to get what you always got.” It’s easy to see that Davis Jewelers maintains this mindset everyday as they continue to work on improving the business. By allowing themselves to evolve and change with the times, Davis Jewelers has continued to thrive.

Armed with the drive to connect with clients on a personal level, the ability to stay relevant and evolve, a dedication to marketing, and the knowledge base that comes with four generations of business ownership, Davis Jewelers has truly found the recipe for success. JBA

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Author:Jewelry Business Advisor

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