Days off from school playing with the sales people, carrying dinners to the store, and of course, the annual holiday party: these are just a few of my memories growing up at Mitchell’s Jewelers, the store my parents run together. When my dad, Mitchell, entered the jewelry business in 1979 as an apprentice to a local Baltimore jeweler, little did he know he would go on to open his own store which would become not only a second home to my sister and me but also a local staple in the community.
Growing up, my father enjoyed working with his hands. His favorite high school class was woodworking. He often says that if he weren’t in the jewelry business, he would be a cabinet maker. In high school, he started an apprenticeship with a jeweler and loved it. Mitchell continued to learn about the jewelry business and soon had a solid foundation in jewelry repair, sales, and custom design. One thing lead to another, and a few years later, he founded Mitchell’s Jewelry Repair Corporation!
When my dad married my mom, Lisa, the store expanded. She brought her background in retail to the business and helped Mitchell’s Jewelry Repair Corporation transition into Mitchell’s Jewelers, a retail custom design, and repair store. Today, this store still has a shop-centric feel rather than a showroom feel. It’s highlighted by big glass windows that allow customers to see the jewelers working at their benches from both inside and outside the store.
Through the use of new tools and technologies, Mitchell’s Jewelers is always looking for ways to advance and innovate. A few years ago, Mitchell purchased a laser welder to help him better meet customers’ needs. Currently, the business is revolutionizing the way they approach their custom design service, one of Mitchell and Lisa’s favorite aspects of their store. This idea came about after attending Stuller’s Bridge event last May. The thought-provoking event was transformative, helping my parents realize a new direction to take the business, by focusing on custom design, social media, and targeting millennials.
With the addition of Stuller’s Countersketch® Studio software to his repertoire, Mitchell hopes to help customers turn old jewelry and stones into something new or help them create something unique and original altogether. My sister, Mollie, hopes to assist in designing jewelry through CAD software by taking classes in school that teach her how to use various CAD programs. Plans are in the works to reconfigure the showroom to focus on custom design. To work towards the new business initiatives identified at the Bridge event, I took on a marketing role for the business, expanding the social media presence and rolling out a new website where I can seamlessly embed the Stuller Showcase.
My parents strive to create an environment that treats everyone like family. From the warm greetings customers receive from our sales staff, and the one-on-one consultations with our other jewelers to the wagging tails of our two family dogs Russell and Charlie and handwritten thank-you cards after purchases or repairs, Mitchell’s Jewelers’ customers are the number one priority. Seeing a customer’s reaction — from tears of joy to gasps of amazement — is one of my father’s favorite things. The jewelry could be an old ring the customer never imagined could look brand new again or a custom piece that began as just a thought.
Mitchell and Lisa’s journey has taught them to carve out their niche and diversify their business. Mitchell’s Jewelers separates itself from the big box stores and internet sellers through quality, personality, and flexibility even if it comes at the immediate cost of profits. Additionally, by having both a retail component and wholesale component of the business, Mitchell’s Jewelers balances the highs and lows of the business cycle. As a small business, or as we like to say, “a small business with a capital ‘B,'” Mitchell’s Jewelers stays true to its values while meeting and exceeding the customers’ needs.
Did you enjoy hearing about the Mitchell’s Jewelers family affair?
Tell us about your family-run operation in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out Anita Price’s story detailing her transformation from intern to in-law.