Someone once told me, “If you pick a job you love to do, you never really have to go to work.” I’m fortunate to have that luxury. I get to wake up and fulfill my passion each and every day. My store is a one-man show. I never wanted an empire, or a store named in my honor for that matter, but rather a humble opportunity to do what I love and love what I do. You name it, I complete all tasks at the store. By necessity, I’ve learned my skills as a bench jeweler because I always strive to sell pieces that exceed my capabilities. Besides, on a good day, I can sell three rings but I could never make three rings! My only employee is Jules, a pit bull rescue who has become part of our family and my most trusted companion.
I’ve been in the industry for over 40 years. My jewelry career began at the University of Florida, studying Architecture. My buddy, a Geology major, always had cool specimens handy which fueled my fascination with all things in stone. I followed suit and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. When searching for my dream job, I knew I wanted to work with colored stones. Looking back, it seems everything fell into place as I headed toward a career in jewelry.
In early 1979, I worked for a man named Bill Adams in my first real job in the industry. Bill promised he wasn’t as mean as he came off to be. He taught me so much about the industry and running a business. To this day, I keep a modest inventory on-hand. My showcases stay limited while the majority of my pieces remain stowed away. Instead of showing an array of product, I aim to keep my designs select and create jewelry that directly speaks to my customer’s style.
In fact, I’ve become somewhat adept at choosing jewelry for others rather quickly. After asking only a few questions and briefly assessing their desires, I’m often able to walk over to the safe, pull a piece I think matches their aura, and usually, customers immediately fall in love with the design. To me, it’s all about selecting jewelry that best compliments its wearer. I like to think of myself as more of a consultant. Instead of hardcore sales tactics and persistently trying to close, I prefer to offer customers jewelry that they actually want. Satisfying a customer’s taste and style trumps making the sale every time.
Upon entering my store, most customers feel drawn to our beloved dog, Jules, or the store’s warm, eccentric vibe. With its relaxed feel, bricked walls, cozy wood floor and even a hideaway loft, Instore Magazine titled the space “America’s Coolest Store” in 2002. Once a violin shop, my store now gleams with natural light and welcomes all passersby.
And as for Jules, he’s sometimes the main attraction. After our kids had outgrown our home, my wife and I found the nest a bit empty. Together we visited DeKalb County Animal Shelter where we met our sweet Jules. He grabbed our attention by standing on his hind legs and waving to us, paws flailing in the air. And he has kept our attention ever since.
A sweet, sensitive companion, Jules proves time and time again the tenderheartedness of the Pit Bull breed. I think there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. Jules makes a friend wherever he goes. From the local bank to the candy shop nearby, he’s welcomed nearly everywhere in town. He loves to bask in the sun and even attracts prospective customers by simply napping on the sidewalk in front of the store!
A special memory in my career was the opportunity to use my skill to contribute to a greater cause. Once, a local bank came to me with a bag of jewelry belonging to an estate. They wanted my appraisal of the pieces despite knowing the items retained little or no value. Low and behold, nearly the entire collection had substantial worth, some even vintage Tiffany designs. With the estate headed for liquidation, I helped broker the items. I found a buyer and the entire collection brought more that $400,000, more than 25% higher than the next closet bid. And the best part: the proceeds of the items went to a humane society.
Thus, I believe we live in a karmic existence. By doing right, that righteousness will come back to you in return!
So do you have a precious pet in your store? Hashtag #stuller in your store’s pet pics on Facebook • Instagram • Twitter! Also, check out DecaturCityJules on Instagram for more of Jules and all his mischief.