By Ashley Davis
Rone Regency Jewelers if facing competition from the internet but its excellent customer service keeps it relevant in the digital age.
Chattanooga, Tenn.--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.

Rone Regency Jewelers opened in 1944 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Bob Mason has been with the store for 47 years, working under the original store owner until he retired. “He’s like a father to me,” said Mason. “He left us a great foundation and he taught me a lot.”

Mason and his wife, Sherry, became the owners of the store in 2006.

Mason told National Jeweler about the challenges he’s facing due to competition from the internet, and how his store’s focus on customer service is keeping them relevant, even in the digital age.

20171011 Rone staff Bob and Sherry Mason (front) assumed ownership of Rone Regency Jewelers, which opened in 1944, in 2006. The Chattanooga store has 16 employees and is 7,000 square feet.
National Jeweler: What’s the biggest challenge your store is facing today?

Bob Mason: I think the biggest challenge is the internet--trying to get customers to understand the value of purchasing at a local brick-and-mortar store where you can walk in and get service immediately, or if you have an issue with a watch or a ring or whatever it is, you don’t have to ship it back anywhere.

A local retailer like us, we’re going to stand behind it 100 percent. If somebody buys an engagement ring from me and the stone comes out of it, we replace it free.  

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

BM: Watches and engagement rings are about even; watches are our best.

NJ: What’s your top-selling brand?

BM: In the watches it would be Rolex and Breitling; primarily Rolex is the number one seller for us.  

NJ: Describe your regional customer.

BM: We’ve been fortunate and blessed enough to have customers literally all over the United States. People who have lived in Chattanooga and moved away, or people who refer their friends to us because of the service we’ve given them over all these years.

I worked on a foundation in New York for 20-plus years. Through that relationship I got a lot of customers and clients from all over the country.

It’s really a wide range of people and at every economic level. Our customer based in Chattanooga is probably in their 20s up to their 70s. When you’ve been in business as we have for 73 years, you develop a lot of long-term, generational relationships.

It’s kind of an even gender breakdown. Today we have a lot of ladies, because of the designers my wife has put in, who come in and self-shop. It’s really nice and we build wish lists for those husbands who need help in their purchasing.

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

BM: A popular style would be white gold or platinum metals and cushion-cut diamonds, which are very popular with us, as well as ovals, which have come on very strong recently, and, of course, with a halo and diamonds running down the shank of the ring.

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

BM: We’re very active on Facebook.  

NJ: Do you have e-commerce?

BM: We do not. It’s not for us right now.

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

BM: You know, just give great service. We just received the award of best jewelry store in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the 10th year in the row. There are only, I think, 12 companies in the city that have achieved that for all various, different kinds of business, but we got best jewelry store 10 years in a row and I think it’s because of our service.

We’re not going to let anyone else do something for one of our customers that we can do. Even if we lose money to make sure we stand behind what we sold that customer, we’re going to do it because we’re going to take great care of them.

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

BM: I enjoy what I do. I truly do. It’s really a labor of love for me because I love the people. I’ve been here 47 years. The customers who come into our store are like family for me. I sell engagement rings to young ladies who I held when they were babies; sometimes, I even held their mothers when they were babies.

I love to travel and my wife loves to travel, so we’re trying to do some more of that. For many years I took very little time off and now I’m trying to take some time off so she and I can enjoy traveling together.

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