What’s the Deal with Big Retail? An Insider’s Look at Chain vs. Small Jewelry Stores

Posted on October 16 2020

Walking through a mall, it seems like jewelry stores are everywhere. From Roger and Holland’s to Zales to Kay’s, the number of jewelry stores available for you to choose from almost seems unlimited. However, when choosing where to find your perfect anniversary gift or engagement ring, it’s important to consider not just the quality of the jewelry available, but also the quality of service. 

At Lasker’s, we have two sales consultants, Will H. and Sheryl D., who have backgrounds in chain jewelry stores. We’ve provided a quick interview with them to offer insight into what makes a local, family-owned jewelry store different from a large chain store. 

Q: Tell me a little about yourself. How did you end up in the jewelry industry? 

Will- I was entering into my last few years in college and was looking for a job with different hours. I was hoping I could get some hours during nights and weekends while in school and found a job opening at Kay Jewelers. 

Sheryl- I moved to the west coast late 1980’s; I had a passion for helping people and what better way than to share excitement with customers and being a part of their unique story. I then moved back to the mid-west in the 1990’s and continued pursuing a successful and passionate career within the jewelry business.  After 25 years, along with making personal relationships, I am making memories. 

Q: What has been one of the most rewarding parts of working in jewelry? 

W- Being able to share the big moments in life from engagements to anniversaries to birthdays with clients. 

S-The feeling of pure happiness when a guest has just made an important lifelong purchase. Including the way we have made them feel special. And the feeling of repairing a special family piece. 

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced working at a chain or mall jewelry store? 

W- Not having a Jeweler onsite was a consistent problem for them; work would not get done on time or they didn’t produce the quality we were expecting. Since we were always selling mass produced items, problems with the quality of pieces was consistent and I spent a fair time being a customer service person trying to solve those problems. 

S-Challenges I faced were quality of merchandise the customer was expecting and the time frame of a special order. It was also frustrating with repairs and work not getting done in a timely manner as well as in a quality manner.  Getting higher quality jewelry was a challenge due to the fact there was no contact person to speak with. Custom designs were lost to our competitors as they had access to certain design vendors. Since I worked for a corporation, we had no room to make decisions that was right for the guest. 

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Q: When did you switch over to working at Lasker's? And why did you make the switch? 

W- I joined the team in late February 2020. I was in the market looking for new job opportunities and applied at various places but was made aware of an available position and interviewed for the position. 

S-I switched over in September 2019. I was familiar with the Lasker name when I relocated to Rochester and was happy to know they had a position available.  

Q: How has working at a local jeweler been different from working for a big retailer? 

W- It has been very nice adding a Jeweler to the staff and having an expert in repairing jewelry mere steps away, and the quality of repairs is something I am always blown away by. The quality of jewelry selected for our store is the highest I have ever worked with and is very refreshing to be able to sell something I stand behind as a quality piece that will last for a long time. And finally, not having any roadblocks when it comes to finding what the customer is looking for. I can order from wherever, whenever to help them find the perfect piece. 

S- The quality of merchandise was something I was not used to, and it was a delight to have such an array of pieces that I could order with such ease. I feel inspired and confident that I am able to present a piece of merchandise with no roadblocks.  I'm very empowered to think outside of the box and give people an extraordinary experience. Building relationships with customers is an important part of being on the Lasker team.

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to buy an engagement ring or fine jewelry? 

W- I would suggest that you "Buy the Seller," meaning find a sales associate you trust and who understands your needs. These will be the people you will go back to with other purchases in the future, any questions you may have, they will be that go to person. What you think about them and their opinion matters. Make sure it is someone you trust and you know you will get quality pieces that follow. 

Q: Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry?

W- It is hard to pick one piece in particular but one of my favorite collections that has some of my favorite pieces is in the Simon G. Collection they have such high-quality stone and metal with it all being hand made from start to finish in California I know when we get a piece from them it will be Stunning! 

S- I absolutely love this three-stone ring that’s at the store in Rochester. It has a Forevermark pear-shaped diamond in the center, and two other pear-shaped diamonds on either side. It’s a beautiful engagement ring.  

Have more questions about jewelry? Feel free to contact our professional staff or make an appointment.