Feature Friday – Kevin Kelly
There are two things that can get me out of the jewelry store in a hurry — my family and an open fairway. And much like my golf game, where no matter how many shots end up in the rough or how many drives I slice, there’s always something that keeps me coming back. In the jewelry business, it’s family.
My family, including my wife, four children and five grandchildren, remains my passion on a daily basis. My wife of 36 years, Maureen, has worked by my side since we were married. In the tough years, when we weren’t making much of a living and it might have been wiser to quit, Maureen never questioned me or what we were doing. She only worked harder. My children have at one time or another been a part of the business as well. In fact, my favorite moment in the store occurred when my son met his future wife while working there on Christmas Eve morning. And even though our grandchildren aren’t old enough to work, from store visits to broken earrings that need mending, they still find ways to be a part of Kevin Kelly Jewelers.
Over the years, I’ve found that I love everything about the business: the challenges of running my own business in an ever-changing world, helping develop the creative talents in my employees, helping create some of the most special moments in people’s lives. We’re fortunate that people who stop in for a repair become lifelong customers when they see what we have to offer. And I’d like to believe the reason we’ve seen success is because of family, both our real family members and the people who’ve become like family.
For more than a decade, two employees have used their creativity and talents to expand our offerings and create special experiences for our customers. Melissa works with Countersketch to allow customers to become a bigger part of designing their jewelry and to allow us to create just what we want the way we want it. Steven is a talented stone setter and goldsmith, and I look forward to watching his continued growth once I pass the bench torch to him. Other employees with less experience, but just as much promise, include our youngest daughter, Mary Kathleen; a sales associate, Jessie; and another goldsmith, Patrick. All of them, with their unique skill sets, have become a part of our family.
I started in the jewelry business right out of high school, when a neighbor thought I was a nice kid and offered to pay my way through trade school. After graduating from Gem City College in 1974, I worked in a trade shop for a year and then in my neighbor’s retail store for five before he retired and I took over. We started out as a wholesale trade shop, moved into a retail repair shop and transformed ourselves into a more traditional retail store. Needless to say, repairs have been the backbone of our business for many years.
We learned about Stuller in the early 1990s and were so impressed with the interest the employees took in our store. We’ve attended the Bench Jeweler Workshop for 10 years, coming back each year with new ideas about improving our store. Stuller has become part of our family too.
At age 60, with retirement a handful of years away, I feel good knowing I can pass on the business to people who are now family and who will continue the customer-first approach we started so many years ago. Knowing that will help me rest easier upon retirement — and perhaps even help me hit my drives straighter.
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