Sunday November 17th 2013 marked 10 years since I bought Walsh Bros.
Ready to Resign
Quite where that time has gone I have no idea, so much has happened over the years it's tough to keep track, but I thought it would be a nice idea to note down some of the key events. It's funny how life throws you unexpected opportunities; this time 10 years ago I was working as the store manager. I had been with Walsh Bros since 1995 and felt it was time for a change.
I handed in my notice to the previous owner and was met with the response, don't resign, make me an offer. At that stage in my life I needed a new challenge and whilst it wasn't my plan, I accepted and started on a quest to build one of the best jewellers in Tunbridge Wells.
I've always been proud of our unique location opposite Tunbridge Wells station. To make the most of it, seven years ago we installed new windows and introduced the art deco signage you are familiar with today. And it wasn't just superficial improvements I had planned. I added an onsite watchmaker and a master jeweller to the premises to broaden the services we can offer our customers.
The quality and level of stock also significantly increased. This year we launched our new website with e-commerce functionality. The hard work has paid off, turnover has doubled since the year I purchased the business. Our reputation has grown and we make more customers happy than we ever have before.
But like any good story it's not been without the lows. In 2008 we were victim to one of Tunbridge Wells' most high profile robberies. In the space of just 45 seconds, a gang made off with £150,000 worth of jewellery using a sledge hammer and a stolen getaway vehicle. Obviously we were insured, but it was a horrific experience to be a part of. Our security has been upgraded since to a robust system, but the risk always remains. It's something you have to live with as a jeweller.
Owning a jewellers in any part of the country is usually a good opportunity to meet some famous faces. But a jewellers in Tunbridge Wells (one of the most beautiful places in the South East) does help. We've been lucky enough to show some very high profile and interesting figures around the store. A personal highlight is helping a local TV star pick both her wedding and engagement rings.
Never A Dull Day
I think though, that what I enjoy most about owning a jewellers is the variety every day brings. As buyers of vintage watches and jewellery, a real highlight is in seeing all of the fabulous pieces customers give us the opportunity to acquire.
I vividly recall, just 6 weeks after purchasing the store, a gentleman walking in with a particularly stunning gold brooch. I knew straight away that it was a rare and special piece. I purchased it and upon further inspection it turned out to be a creation of Carlo Giuliano (1831-1895) a famous Italian goldsmith.I had it verified by an independent expert on Bond Street and after holding onto it for 2 years I sold it on for a new owner to cherish, and made a nice return on the initial investment.
I still see that day as a sign that things were just meant to be.
I've also been lucky enough to form some great friendships over the years with many customers becoming close friends. I'd like to finish this post by thanking them, the staff and everyone else who has supported Walsh Bros for what has been a wild and successful 10 years.
And of course to you, our customers, whom we do all of this for. Here's to the next 10!