Columnists Amy Minnick Ellis Jewelers, small-town retailer leaving a big mark

Ellis Jewelers, small-town retailer leaving a big mark

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ellis-octDeep southern roots have produced 55 years of business and three generations of jewelers for a local North Carolina family. The Levinson family, known throughout Concord for their active community involvement and their honest approach to jewelry, established their store on the same morals, values and intimacy that characterized their family. Ellis Levinson opened the doors to Ellis Jewelers in its current downtown location in July of 1953. Ever since the retail jeweler has been a mainstay in small town life.

With a small loan from his father (Morris Levinson), and the local bank, Ellis Levinson followed in his father's footsteps when he started his own retail jewelry store. Morris, who owned a retail store in Gastonia, North Carolina, exposed Ellis to retail jewelry life from a young age by encouraging him to work part-time in his store.

With a small amount of money and a brave vision Ellis met the challenges of opening a luxury item store in a small, southern mill town. He geared his inventory to appeal to his "good, hard-working, blue-collar" customers and he even offered credit to them.

"My dad used to carry a more diverse line of products with mass appeal. Items such as punchbowls, china, luggage, lamps and radios alongside the jewelry," recalls Ellis' son Dan. "And he never priced his products out of reach for his customers. He prided himself on offering quality pieces in the low hundreds, but, at the same time, concentrating on the diamond bridal market as well."

But over the years Ellis Jewelers started focusing strictly on the jewelry. Ellis Levinson loved working in retail and, as Dan describes it, "There wasn't a day my Dad didn't get up happy about going into work. He had retail in his blood."

With three children at home, Ellis anticipated at least one of them carrying on the family business, and he was right. Dan, the youngest of the children, worked briefly for Macy's Department store before returning home to work for his father. Discovering that, like his father, he really enjoyed it, Dan decided to make a career in retail jewelry, He started apprenticing under his father and spent years learning the trade, gleaning the expert knowledge that only 50+ years in the business can bring.

As Ellis neared retirement he offered to sell the business to Dan. In 2000 Dan became the official owner of Ellis Jewelers.

"When I came home to work for my dad I started off doing many of the everyday tasks that any new employee would handle. And, that's when I discovered I loved it," states Dan.

 

Dan Takes Over

 

Eight years ago Dan became the official owner of Ellis Jewelers. Understanding the need to keep up with the trends of his community he immediately began to broaden the product line. He introduced branded diamond lines and updated the décor. Gone are the mills which once fueled the local economy. Today, the citizens of Concord have a higher average income and, consequently a more sophisticated taste in jewelry. And Dan Levinson is responding to those changes.

"We still carry good quality, well-priced pieces that helped cement us in this community, but now we have more to offer," states Dan.

Ellis, who recently turned 80, still enjoys visiting

the store. As a founding member of the Southeastern Jewelers Organization (SJO) Ellis helped to form this buying organization to benefit small retail jewelers like him. Created to pool resources, buying power and business knowledge, SJO has been an integral part of the 50+ years that Ellis has been in business.

"The buying power we have as a group far exceeds what we have as individual stores. And, the friendships we have made are critical to our success," states Dan.

The future looks bright for Ellis Jewelers. Adapting to a changing community is the first step in maintaining and building business. As Dan puts it, "Evolving is critical to success and Ellis Jewelers will continue to evolve in the future. We will meet the needs of our customers and, in doing so, will continue to grow our business."

For more information about Ellis Jewelers check out their website at www.ellisfinejewelers.com or call 704-782-9314.

For more information about SJO and the impact they can have on your business contact the Charlotte office at 704-535-7709 or their Cleveland office at 216-374-3944 or visit www.sjorg.com.

 

 


 

 
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