Calvin Broyles Jewelers has a solid succession plan that will soon see the business transfer to four members of the Broyles’s third generation.
South Charleston, W.V.--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.

In West Virginia, Calvin Broyles Jewelers is celebrating 70 years in business.

The company has three stores today and employs more family than ever. Calvin Broyles’s sons, David and Don, have run the business for more than 30 years and now are in the process of transitioning to the company’s next chapter, in which their four sons will take control.

David Broyles and his sons, Mark and Beau, spoke to National Jeweler about the benefits and difficulties of technology in their business and the brands that attract their clientele.

20171107 WestVirginia 1Calvin Broyles opened Calvin Broyles Jewelers in 1947. Today the company has three stores, the 5,500-square-foot South Charleston flagship, the 2,400-square-foot Teays Valley location and a 1,000-square-foot store in Beckley. The business is run by Broyles’s children, David and Don, and is transitioning over to their sons: Mark, Beau, Brian and Justin. The stores employ 28 people.
National Jeweler: What’s the biggest challenge your store is facing today?

Mark Broyles: For me, the challenge I see going forward is just keeping on top of technology, finding the technology that is coming to the market that we can utilize and just picking and choosing what’s going to be best for our business.

For instance, we use an iPad instead of a catalog in-store; that’s what we’ve done for a long time. There’s great technology out there and we try to use a lot of it, but it changes so fast that the challenge is just making sure we’re giving the best service and allowing technology to help with that. Moving from an older school style to keep active with technology I think is the biggest challenge.

David Broyles: Obviously the internet is a great tool for the consumer to research and learn and find out more about our product, but it’s also a competitor and people shop it. Fortunately we’ve been around as long as we have and we have very loyal customers, but battling the internet is a challenge as well as just keeping up with the trends and making changes as quickly as possible.

Beau Broyles: If something is posted on social media, customers, especially younger people and millennials, expect quick responses and we try to match those expectations to keep the interaction going smoothly. With technology there are great things happening, but it does require a lot more work around the clock to make sure you’re still providing a great service, not just in store but in the digital communication department.

NJ: What’s the top-selling category and brand at your stores?

BB: Bridal is still our core and pillar. Hearts on Fire has been great for us. We do really well with them. They offer complete bridal. Some others we do well with are Verragio, Tacori and Forevermark.

DB: We have one brand we really depend on outside of bridal--Gems One. They’re our core brand we use for our earrings, bracelets, diamond earrings. We absolutely couldn’t live without them.

NJ: Tell me about your regional customer.

MB: As a family business, we’ve served many generations and a lot of times a grandmother or grandfather will come in with their grandkids, so we try to open that relationship up and start them young. We have jewelry for all ages; we haven’t limited ourselves to any age.

This market is slightly conservative, so our customer won’t pay a huge premium on a trend or modern-looking designer. They are expecting quality and will spend extra for what’s a good value or a nice look on classic pieces.

DB: I think people in West Virginia do appreciate quality, and they recognize brands. We feel like they want to have the best, so we certainly want to provide the best. We think we really have the hall of fame with the brands Mark mentioned earlier and our customers come in asking for them. We partner with these brands because they drive traffic.

We also feel our best brand is our own. The Broyles brand is ultimately what drives our consumer to us. It is a smaller market here and the core people in West Virginia like to shop with West Virginians, and we’re all about being part of the community and making the community part of our family.

NJ: Do you see a lot of female self-purchasers?

DB: You see more and more of that. The female has more disposable income now--they’re their own bread winners and they like nice things. The woman of the day doesn’t want to wait on someone to buy them something. If they want it, they can go get it--and they do. We’re certainly glad to be here for them.

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

BB: Right now the halo style is still very, very popular. With the halo, people like the cushion-shape with the round, center diamond. Also the oval diamond is very popular right now.

DB: The classic Tiffany-style with the straight-line band with a single row of diamonds going down the side, those are pretty popular with us today too.

MB: White gold is probably still the most popular metal, but we’re seeing people start to like the two-tone with the rose gold and white gold, and yellow gold is coming back.

DB: We’re also seeing more platinum today than we did five years ago.

20171107 WestVirginia 2These are the second and third generation of Calvin Broyles Jewelers. From left to right: Justin, Ryan, Don, David, Beau and Mark Broyles
NJ: Which social media accounts are important to your stores?

BB: We try to use all social media platforms, but definitely Facebook is the most popular and most interactive. Second to that would be Instagram.

Anyone not using Facebook needs to use it. It’s the best marketing tool that’s out there. You get to interact; that’s the most important thing. You can link to your website. You can comment back and forth, answer questions. You can’t do that with a billboard or magazine. Facebook is just the strongest tool out there, whether it’s for the jewelry industry or any type of business.

DB: And it’s the most cost effective.

BB: The most important thing is that the content, the picture or video, has to be good. If it’s not good, it won’t capture people’s attention.

NJ: Do you have e-commerce?

MB: We do have e-commerce. We’ve explored that in the past two years. It’s actually really, really tough. Our website, we treat it as a storefront. It has to be managed, and with e-commerce you have to deal with internet fraud, a lot of shipping efforts, so we do have e-commerce but the website is best used to introduce people to the type of experience they’re going to have in all three of our stores.

We’re ready if we have to sell online, but we think of our website as something that introduces our store, our experience and our staff to anyone looking for jewelry on the internet.

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

DB: Staffing is crucial, so I think to hire the best person that you can. If they’re not in sales, you train them to be in sales. If they’re good people, that’s who we want. We want people with our core, family values.

We continue to educate. We have weekly meetings, we have monthly salesperson training from people outside of our store--industry training. We try to have that to continue to educate and try to keep up with the trends.

Don’t be afraid to take a chance every now and then. Always treat your client as you would want to be treated and your staff as though they were family, which they are. Without our staff we wouldn’t be who we are.

In today’s world with all the social media and technology and reviews, I think back in my parent’s time you could almost operate your store because it was less under the microscope. You could run a good business and kind of live in your own world, but with today’s technology and presence of the internet and how everyone is researching and doing all that you almost have to run a “D flawless” type of business, because any mistake you make is going to come out, you’re under a microscope.

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

DB: When my dad started the business in 1947, obviously he ran a retail store, but later in life he went on the road as a sales rep for a company out of Pittsburgh. My mom and a manager ran the company while my dad was on the road traveling all of West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Over the course of his years, he helped open up probably four or five jewelry stores throughout the state of West Virginia, just by being that guy, a sales rep who helped people get started and learn the lay of the land.

Fast forward 67 years later and we bought one of the stores he helped open and that’s our third location in Beckley. So I think that’s kind of a neat fact--that we’ve come full circle.

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