Success Story: Wixon Jewelers

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Dan Wixon is a first generation jeweler that possesses the passion and drive to take the risks needed to establish a successful jewelry store business. He started his career buying pieces from estate sales and selling antiques. There was always jewelry at these venues and he realized it would be lucrative for him to purchase jewelry pieces he found at the estate sales as well. Hope Wixon, his wife, recalls, “Soon Dan realized that it was a lot easier to carry around diamond rings than big antique dressers.” So in 1988, Wixon Jewelers was established in Minneapolis, Minnesota and his successful business started to take shape. The business started out with two salespeople, a goldsmith and a general office administrator; Wixon Jewelers was born.

Dan and HopeHope met Dan while she was in college and working part time at his store. He saw her talent and offered to help her get a Gemology degree; in which she did. Hope also had an incredible passion for the jewelry business. They fell in love, married and have continued to grow and build the business together. They own three Labradors and these three pups are often seen in their store. “There is nothing more charming than walking in and seeing dogs roaming our floor. Our oldest dog, Louie walks around greeting our clients and allowing them to pet him.”

“Over the years, we have grown tremendously because we are a very niche oriented store. We have the ability to do everything in-house and employ four goldsmiths, three watchmakers, four gemologists, and a full gem lab.” Wixon Jewelers can do every service a client needs, from appraisals, gem research, custom design and all kinds of repair. They can make any ring from scratch and have even made rings on Christmas Eve for their clients. Wixon’s watchmakers are unbelievably talented and perform virtually any watch service from a basic battery service to complete overhauls. “We don’t give our clients a reason to shop elsewhere because we do everything in our store.”

Wixon’s success is attributed to many factors, one of which is their in house marketing department where they create all of their own marketing materials. Jayme Pretzloff is their Director of Marketing and oversees all of the advertising, branding and marketing efforts at Wixon, which includes an amazing website and strong social media presence. “We have better control and creative freedom with what happens when we do everything ourselves,” said Hope.

Another factor in their success is their dedicated staff and ongoing training programs. Wixon Jewelers has continually been recognized for their top-notch staff, including a sales team known as the best-trained team in the country.

“One thing I notice when visiting other stores is that many times a store will only have one salesperson who knows all about high-end watches. When someone works in our store, they have to know Rolex Boutique 2014 Cthe ins and outs of every watch line, every diamond and every gemstone we sell,” said Hope.

She creates books for her staff with important educational information and literature on all of the brands they carry. “Service is key; I think most salespeople do not realize how clients feel when they walk into a store,” states Hope. Wixon Jewelers made the bold decision 15
 years ago to take their
 staff off commission-based sales, and offer them a salary so that they could totally focus on their client’s needs rather than just pushing product.

To ensure that Wixon’s staff has a well-rounded knowledge base, members of the sales staff research certain topics (high-end cars, fine wine, etc.) and give presentations to other staff. “We do this so that our staff can easily to talk
to our clients about 
their interests, and be able to add value.” This really works well for their store as it allows them to be able to really relate with the clients that they’re working with. It’s one thing to be able to talk jewelry, but Wixon Jewelers employees additionally are able to speak on a variety of topics, creating deeper bonds with their clients.

Patek Boutique 2014 CAs a niche oriented store, Wixon Jewelers carries the highly coveted Patek Philippe watch brand, which for collectors and their clients is a very big deal. Wixon educates their clients by having an annual Watch Fair as well as hosting private gatherings on all the brands they carry. They attract a diverse crowd from very serious timepiece collectors to the average guy who wants a nice watch. These events are exciting because Wixon doesn’t display their entire collection year round; they always have some hidden treasures in the vault.

Hope’s passion for colored gemstones is also part of their successful business model. She has a true love for great color gemstones—not just mediocre– but the best of the best. Needless to say, one of her favorite shows is the Tucson Gem Show. “This year at Tucson, we bought a beautiful 194 carat cushion cut Tanzanite suite that we will make into a necklace with matching earrings and ring.” Wixon clients and staff always anxiously anticipate the new pieces and will usually try and get Hope to share a preview of some of the new treasures. “When I come back, I train my staff on why the gem is so special, including its color and origin. I think it is important for people to know the origin of the gem because it is indicative to the gem’s color and value.”

Wixon Jewelers’ success also comes largely from referrals. According to Hope, “Many of our clients have been referred from other clients and we love that; it is the biggest compliment you can get as a business owner. It means our clients will not only buy from you again but they want to send their friends to you as well.”
Wixon’s store is very well regarded in the industry and is known as the premier jewelry store in the Midwest. Outside of the jewelry industry, they are also praised as a successful business that is Wixon circlededicated to client service, employee development and philanthropy. Wixon Jewelers was recently named the Small Business of the Year by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, an honor bestowed to one company each year for their entrepreneurial spirit, creative business strategies and contributions to their surrounding community. “We are extremely humbled and honored to win this award. It validates what we have known for over 20 years: if you assemble an extraordinary team, offer the very best products and truly care for your clients, it is the recipe for success.”

In spite of the sluggish economy, they have continued to flourish while other stores have struggled. Hope and Dan are successful because they are also savvy merchandisers and are often asked for advice. They’re asked everything from what kinds of merchandise to sell, what brands, inventory levels and more. They often are asked how they have built the demand and client base for large diamonds, as other stores will proclaim that they can’t sell two-carat diamonds in their market because of ‘competition’. The first question Hope asks is how many large diamonds they stock, which is often followed by ‘none because we can’t sell them’. “I tell them to close their eyes and imagine a client walking in and not seeing any two-carats in the cases. Will they inquire or will they just assume that your store is not at that level?” Hope continued to state that one of the hardest things that owners need to figure out is what type of store they want to be, what kind of merchandise to carry and once they decide – start stocking those goods.

“Even if they don’t have that client right now, it’s imperative that they go out and buy them. If you don’t take the risk and invest in the type of merchandise needed to be the store you want to be, then you’ll never get there,” says Hope. Her recommendation is to figure out what the number one selling item is going to be—if it is a one-carat diamond, then put in a two- or three-carat in the case. She suggests setting it up beautifully and every time a client comes in, even though they asked to see the one-carat, show it to them as well. Another great bit of advice Hope mentioned is to build up your other categories as well. “It’s important for your clients, as they will realize that you specialize in other high-end areas as well.” Hope continued, “If you don’t stock it, you won’t sell it. We all have competition and live in a global world; so we must ask ourselves how to make ourselves different. Owners need to step out of the proverbial box and break the ‘cookie cutter’ model to go in a different direction.”

Wixon Jewelers has built a successful business with their outstanding client service, niche merchandise and their dedication resulting in a retail jewelry store that is surely a model for others in the jewelry industry to follow. JBA



Author:Jewelry Business Advisor

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