Anyone familiar with Charleston, South Carolina knows the southern city for its fabulous food and beautiful architecture. It’s a true southern charmer where ‘blue bloods’ dot the colorful population like gems lying in the sand. Appealing to all economic and social levels in this city can be a challenge. But Polly and Richard Moore have dedicated themselves to knowing their customers and, consequently, catering to the ‘middle American’ of
It hasn’t always been easy for this married couple; hurricanes, economic recessions and store expansion have placed serious roadblocks in front of this dynamic pair. But they will be the first to tell you that it has all been worth it. Now, with three locations and a strong local following, Polly’s Fine Jewelry is a
The first Polly’s opened in 1986 in
“I learned so much working at Moseley’s. At one point they had four locations and used a price point marketing plan coupled with aggressive advertising,” recalls Polly. “They taught me all the aspects of the business and when Richard and I started discussing a business of our own, we really noticed that
At the time, Richard was in the insurance industry. But when they decided to open a retail jewelry store Richard left his insurance job and joined Polly behind the counter.
“I can’t even remember what it was like selling insurance,” states Richard. “It’s been so long since I did that. But one thing is for sure. We love what we are doing now.”
They started like so many other ‘mom and pop’ retailers; just the two of them working day and night. But Polly did have one advantage – her prior purchasing experience with Moseley’s.
“Because I handled purchasing at Moseley’s, I already knew many of the vendors and, more importantly, they knew me,” observes Polly. “That made it so much easier when it came time to stocking the store.”
“We were in shock,” remembers Polly. “We got in the car and were driving the distance to check on both of our stores and I knew it was over. We passed a Pier 1 store that exploded and wicker was all over the roads. I feared the worst.”
Their fears were abated when they discovered both locations still intact. The West Ashley store was without power for a while but, for the most part, they had survived.
“We actually ended up doing very well that year because of Hugo,” states Richard. “With all the insurance checks and extra builders around during the rebuild phase we were able to capitalize on that business. Even Hugo can’t take special occasions away from people.”
Dazed but still growing, Polly and Richard hired a marketing agency in the early 1990s to help with advertising. Like most firms they put the couple in front of the camera with preconceived scripts and detailed instructions on how to act. But, according to Polly, they were terrible at the acting part. Sounding stiff and rehearsed produced results that just didn’t fit their image and it wasn’t long until they decided to simply be themselves in front of the camera.
“Our agency sent in some of their best creative people who would just sit in front of us and ask us questions about our business or products and we’d answer her. That’s when our true personalities came out and Richard and I joked around on screen just like we do off. Our passion for our business came through in a very natural way and we’ve been doing the commercials ever since. I was just in a doctor’s office when someone recognized me from the commercial,” comments Polly.
Creating local commercials that looked local is, according to the
With a well established clientele base and a highly visible marketing campaign Polly and Richard opened their third store in 1991. Hand picking their employees became especially important when the number of stores outnumbered the owners. Choosing people who were looking for a career with the company was as important as having a solid manager and assistant manager at each location.
Polly explains that: “We created a family atmosphere among our employees. Most have 18 plus years with us and they know how we think and what our business philosophy is. We don’t have a lot of turn over because we’ve made our retail environment employee-friendly by reducing the number of hours our managers work and we’ve hired people with varied talents so we can cover a multitude of tasks.”
Low employee turnover in a small town is critical to business success, as is understanding what products appeal to your customers. Buying the right merchandise is something at which the
“We’ve been deliberate at making sure we understand what appeals to our customers. In 2000 we opened a downtown store that never really took off. I never really felt like I had a bead on that consumer, so we decided to close it in 2006. I’m more in-tune with the other locations,” states Polly.
Regardless of whether it’s knowing your customers or treating your employees like family, it takes dedication and perseverance to keep a business thriving. Richard and Polly Moore have definitely proven to themselves and their community that they are in it for the long haul. Hurricanes and economic recessions may come and go, but Polly’s is sure to weather the storm.
Be sure to check out their website at www.pollysjewelry.com or give Polly and Richard a call the next time you’re in
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