Feature Friday – Don Brown
At the age of 17, I answered an ad in the local newspaper for an apprentice watchmaker/bench jeweler position. That was only 49 short years ago. By 1978, I had become a partner in the store. Everyone knew me as Don, and I liked the design aspect of the business, so the store’s name just came out naturally as Don’s Jewelry & Design. One thing that makes our store unique is that there has been a jewelry store in our location since circa 1895!
Throughout my career, I’ve enjoyed meeting the people that come through the door. I love transforming their wants, needs, and desires into reality. I’m one of the most fortunate people in the world because I have a passion for my profession and I work side by side with my family. I enjoy spending my free time with my family and friends, boating, fishing, traveling, and camping. And I constantly like working on projects.
I’m usually the first person at work so that I can prepare the store for the day. I wear all kinds of hats from helping customers to creating special designs and working at the bench. I enjoy the selling because I get to help customers celebrate all the special moments in their lives. Bench work runs a close second because I find the creative process exciting. I feel a little part of our store is attached to our jewelry whether it is a new piece, a redesigned piece, or a repair.
Most of our sales come from our local community and surrounding communities. We pride ourselves on building lifelong relationships with our clients and do our best to provide the best experience possible with each visit. We have a fairly extensive repair center. It’s the heartbeat of our store and magic happens in it.
Our bench jewelers, including myself, are trained and skilled in many aspects of jewelry repair and laser welding. Our cutting edge laser welder allows us to repair and restore jewelry that was once considered too delicate or too fragile to repair. All these things bring customers into the store, which in turn allows us to help them with a purchase.
I’d like to share a story that has stayed with me and helps to keep me grounded me from time to time. One Christmas Eve morning, I came to the store early to get a few last minute things done before the day began. There was snow piled up on the roof of our building and an ice dam had developed. As I went into our repair shop, there was water coming through the ceiling. If I had a bar of soap, I could have taken a shower. I frantically called the roofing contractor and was unable to contact him while leaving him several messages. It was time to open the store and when I opened the front door, with water still pouring out of the ceiling, my first customer of the day was a gentleman looking for a special gift for his wife. He told me this was going to be his last Christmas with his family because of an incurable disease. Suddenly, I didn’t care if the whole roof came crashing in. I needed to take care of this gentleman and find something truly special for his wife. Now, when I begin to think of my problems, I think back to this moment and realize that I really don’t have problems compared to this.
Our relationship with Stuller began many years ago when the store became a member of RJO. My daughter Karen has really expanded our design department through Stuller and the use of Countersketch®. She has also made our presence known by maintaining our website and being active on social media. This is just one example of the fast coming changes in the jewelry industry and how we must be able to adapt and change with them. As a jeweler, we need to constantly keep learning and adapting to maintain our current client base and also to gain new ones as well.