Photo courtesy Jonathan Florence
A Calgary-owned business spanning three generations, Calgary Jewellery has been a staple in the city’s retail scene since 1955. Started by Les and Dora Florence, today the store is run by their son Bernard Florence and their grandson Jonathan, along with a team of dedicated staff. Jonathan spoke to Where Calgary about how the family business has continued to thrive.
Calgary Jewellery is going on 64 years in business. What has kept it relevant all these years?
It’s truly because of the customer service we provide. We pride ourselves on the things that are unique, exclusive, but also, when it comes to anyone’s budget, we focus on providing the exact same experience whether you’re looking to spend $100 or $100,000. Also, the members of our staff have been with us anywhere from 10 years all the way up to 30 years. So when clients come in, they see a familiar face and they can feel comfortable with someone they know.
What was your grandfather’s initial business philosophy, and what does that look like for the store today?
It was integrity, it was customer relationships, and it was providing the same experience for everyone. One of the most important things now is having a unique selection of product. People want something that’s unique to them, and if they have their own taste and style, we’re able to cater to that.
What would you tell someone who is looking for a really special piece — like an engagement ring, for example — but has no idea where to start?
The most important thing is that if they were going to come into the store with zero knowledge, it’s our job to educate our clients. Using an engagement ring as an example, we would sit the client down and make them feel comfortable — for us the sale isn’t the end goal, it’s the relationship we’re building. We would go over a little bit about Diamonds 101, and we would ask questions like: ‘What makes you happy?’ or, ‘What makes you smile?’ At the end of the day, jewellery is an emotional purchase. If a client has no idea about jewellery, the most important thing is that the jeweller asks the right questions and learns about the client first.
How have you seen the retail market in Calgary change over the years?
Social media has become a wonderful tool, and we look at it as an opportunity to connect with clients that we may not have had before. We are one of the first truly independent jewellers that started in Calgary, and we have such a great history… Calgary Jewellery — it’s an easy name to know and to find.