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“I will try to fix about anything,” Don Beohner, owner of Copacetic Rudely Elegant Jewelry in Providence, Rhode Island, told National Jeweler.
Providence, R.I.--In 50 Jewelers/50 States, National Jeweler interviews one retailer in each of the 50 U.S. states to find out how they are meeting the challenges of the changing retail environment.

There are a lot of forces working against Copacetic Rudely Elegant Jewelry in Providence, Rhode Island.

Tough economic times in the area plus three major burglaries in a little over a decade haven’t made life easy for owner Don Beohner, who is also the store’s sole employee.

“I do everything. I change the light bulbs, I vacuum, I do the displays, I order, I do the repairs. I’m the guy,” he explained.

But the challenges of running his store haven’t affected Beohner’s great attitude toward the business, which is a big part of why he’s remained a go-to in Providence.

“Luckily, I love what I do,” he said. “I still come in and do it every day. I love doing it, and I love making people happy with the repairs that I do, and I have a unique store. It’s good all around.”

Beohner talked with National Jeweler about his respect for customers and the sentimental value of jewelry.

20170929 RhodeIsland1 Copacetic Rudely Elegant Jewelry opened in 1985 in Providence, Rhode Island. Don Beohner is the sole employee of the 800-square-foot store.

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

Don Beohner: Customer flow.

Providence is coming back from the recession and a banking crisis here and a lot of the big businesses moving from downtown, but it’s not back yet. It used to be the jewelry capital of the world, just a few blocks down the street, but it all left in the ‘90s and went to China. It left a lot of the artists here, luckily. They found other jobs and still do jewelry at home and I carry their work here in the store, about 25 of them.

It’s now becoming a lot more residential downtown, which is helping the economy.

NJ: What’s the top-selling category at your store?

DB: Unique jewelry that’s priced really well. People always say, “You can’t find this stuff anywhere. It’s very unique.” That’s why I’m still here, I’m sure. That, and I will try to fix about anything.

I used to work for a man who would say, “Oh I don’t work on that. It’s not gold.” I used to stand there and think, “I’ll never do that if I have a store.” People hold things precious not just because they’re gold or made of expensive metals or stones, they hold them precious very often because they’re sentimental.

I carry everything, so I fix everything. I can take something that’s just a funny-looking, old piece of jewelry--but it’s sentimentally precious--and fix it for somebody and endear them to me for the rest of time.

NJ: What’s your top-selling brand?

DB: I carry work made by individuals. I still carry Ed Levin Jewelry. He was a very popular artist. He passed away a few years back, sadly, and a company bought Ed Levin and made it so that the people like myself who made it so that Ed Levin could grow, they cut us out and said, “You’ve got to order $3,500 per year and unless you do that you can’t buy from us anymore,” which was really a stab in the back. But I like the quality of their pieces, and I do get some pieces to carry in the store. It’s a really nice line.

NJ: Describe your regional customer.

DB: A lot of lawyers. I’m right in the heart of the financial district, and there are a lot of lawyers downtown. They really keep me going.

I do about a third of my year’s business in the last three weeks of December, and because I’m so handy and I have unique things, a lot of people don’t want to just go to a Zales and buy something expensive with diamonds, they like to buy something that’s unique. Women like to get those gifts, too, that are very different, rather than just the regular things.

I carry mostly women’s jewelry, and I have a lot of women who shop for themselves and a lot of women who bring in jewelry for repairs. I also have men who come in and buy things for anniversaries and birthdays and, again, they just want something different. They don’t want to go to the mall and go to the big jewelry stores.

20170929 RhodeIsland2“I like gadgets so I carry a lot of different things like faucet lights and toilet lights and tops that send out lasers,” Beohner said. “A lot of people love to come in during the holidays and buy jewelry for their wives, and then there’s a whole lot of things for kids because I’m kind of a kid myself. I just bought a bubble gun--you pull the trigger and it shoots out a whole bunch of bubbles. So people can pick up a few of those kinds of things when they’re here.”

NJ: What’s the most popular style of engagement ring with your clientele now?

DB: I used to have a lot of those pieces on display. I still have a few, but I’ve been burglarized three times pretty heavily.

My customers like to get a diamond and they’re concerned for the most part with where the diamonds come from, so I’m concerned with that also. So I don’t get the “blood” diamonds; I go to places that I’ve established credit with over the years in New York.

I get stones for my customers that are all different sizes because some clients are younger people that don’t want to go to the bigger stores. I also have a man right now that’s 70 years old who’s looking for a flawless diamond--that doesn’t happen every day. But I’m always available to (source diamonds), and I know how to do it.

NJ: Which social media accounts are important to your business?

DB: I have a Facebook page and a website, but I don’t have the password for it so I can’t get in there to update it. Because I’m a one man show, I don’t have time to do a lot of updating on websites, but my Facebook page is where I get most of my online business, you might say, because local people see things on there and then come in and buy them or call me or email me and ask me to put it aside for them to come in and get it.

NJ: Do you have e-commerce?

DB: I don’t. For the most part with things that are really unique like this, people really need to see them and touch them. So a lot of business is local, but some things are universal and customers will order them and I’ll send them, but that’s more of the exception than the rule. Usually it’s local people who see things on the Facebook page and come in and buy them, or call me and tell me to save it for them.

NJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer to a fellow independent jeweler?

DB: Make sure that you’re a nice person. It’s the bottom line.

I had a lady in here the other day who went to a local jeweler, and she was so upset with them. She said, “I never do reviews online but I’m going on Yelp to leave a bad review for this store,” because the guy was so mean to her and took her for granted. He talked down to her and she was really upset by it. When she was telling me that I just went, “I’m just so lucky that I feel like I respect people. I really like people. I want to do good by them. I want to make them happy, and I think if you have that quality as an individual, your store will probably do well.”

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

DB: I usually want to see people laugh. I want to make people happy. I have a good outlook on life, and I like to see the cup as half-full.

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