50 Jewelers/50 States: Arizona

SurveysMay 01, 2017

50 Jewelers/50 States: Arizona

In a new series, National Jeweler is taking the pulse of the nation’s independent jewelers state by state. The third installment features Fountain Hills, Arizona jewelry store Sami Fine Jewelry.

In a new series, National Jeweler is taking the pulse of the nation’s independent jewelers state by state. In this edition, we feature Arizona’s Sami Fine Jewelry.

Fountain Hills, Ariz.--Amid the changing and challenging retail environment, the editorial team at National Jeweler wondered how macro trends--from online shopping to serving new generations of shoppers--have affected jewelers in disparate parts of the country.

In order to find out, we decided to launch a new series called 50 Jewelers/50 States, in which we interview one retailer in each of the 50 U.S. states.

The third installment features Fountain Hills, Arizona jewelry store Sami Fine Jewelry, named for founder and original owner Sami Jack. Four years ago, Jack was bought out by her daughter Stephenie Bjorkman, who has worked at the store since 1997.

Today, Bjorkman is all about keeping it real with customers and preserving the team of employees she’s built over time.

Opened in 1986, Sami Fine Jewelry is comprised of one 3,600- square-foot store with 12 employees.

National Jeweler: What’s the biggest challenge your store is facing?

Stephenie Bjorkman: The ones that keep me up at night are with my staff, just having the right staff and the people who represent (the store) when you’re not there.

It’s exhausting hiring and training new staff and keeping that team that you worked hard to build and having them be the face of your store. Just having staff that’s good that you love and trust is a challenge.

Luckily for me, I do have that. It’s taken a long time to get that mix, but I have it.

The other challenge would be constantly changing and reinventing your business to gain new customers--keeping up with the Jones’s.

Stephenie Bjorkman
NJ: What’s the top-selling item or brand at your store?

SB: We are our top-selling brand!

I just created this whole animal line called Animal Rockz, these little animal pendants and stuff because everyone that comes in and lives in Arizona, they are all animal people.

We even have chickens in the line because people out here are really into raising chickens and collecting their eggs. It’s a cute fine line.

We tried to do the whole brand thing; we had Hearts On Fire and we tried to buy into the “people are going to shop here for brands (mentality),” but, at the end of the day, people come in here for us. Sami’s is the brand.

Last year, we decided to quit selling Hearts On Fire and we thought our customers might be really sad but they want to buy what we
tell them to buy and what we believe in. So it was a big eye-opener like, “Hey, we need to stay true to who we are.”

We’re not going to be one of those stores where you walk in and every case is a different brand. Our customers don’t care. They want to buy our stuff. And that probably doesn’t fit for everybody. I’ve walked into a lot of stores and that’s what they’re all about, but that’s just not us.

NJ: Describe your regional customer.

SB: My customer is probably in their 50s and 60s and they won’t necessarily follow trends. They don’t care what Hollywood is doing.

We do a lot of custom and unique pieces so people are more about making their own trends rather than following them.

We don’t have a big bridal business--we’re more of a second-time-around store.

NJ: What’s the most popular style of engagement ring with your clientele for their second time around?

SB: Ours would be more of a modern style, like a heavier, square shank with curves but straight lines.

NJ: What about diamond shapes?

SB: Round.

NJ: What’s your internet and social media presence like? What accounts do you have or actively use?

SB: We use Facebook, which is my favorite, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest--all of it.

And we have e-commerce on our site.

Bjorkman is an unabashed animal lover. Her French bulldogs Jewel (left) and Gemma (right) come to the store every day. “They make a lot of sales,” said Bjorkman. “They’re my cheapest employees.”

NJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer to other independent jewelry stores?

SB: I think that most importantly, when you spend money on things you need to spend that money on training your staff and having education.

We have Shane Decker come to our store once a year and yes it’s expensive but, at the same time, all of my staff is on the same page as to our brand and what we do and how we sell.

We also have meetings, 15-minute meetings every day, store meetings very week. We do reviews every four months. We have a yearly wrap-up meeting at the beginning of the year.

A lot of stores will hide their numbers and figures and what they’re doing from their staff and I don’t hide any of that from them.

They know what we make, they know what they sell and what we’re doing. I would say, make your staff be a part of your brand and the makeup of who you are.

NJ: What’s a fun fact about you we can share with our readers?

SB: The biggest sale I ever made was a quarter of a million dollar sale, but I made it in dirty boots and jeans--I had just gotten done riding my horse. So I think it’s about being real and being yourself. All of my biggest sales have been in that type of environment.

I know a lot of people who spend 10 hours getting ready in the morning and have to have a certain look to feel good about selling but, for me, I feel my best in my natural environment, which is outside of work.

My best customers and best long-term customers are probably the ones who know the real me.
Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

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