Independents

There Is a Story Behind Every Store Closing

IndependentsFeb 26, 2019

There Is a Story Behind Every Store Closing

In his latest Squirrel Spotting column, Peter Smith chats with Kevin and Kathi Main about why they closed their California jewelry store.

Owners Kevin and Kathi Main closed Kevin Main Jewelry Design & Studio in San Luis Obispo, California in late December. “It was time,” Kevin Main told National Jeweler columnist Peter Smith.

In his book “Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way,” Dan Buettner wrote: “With more citizen participation, the town’s focus shifted away from optimizing the business environment to maximizing quality of life.

“As a result, San Luis Obispo gained a more aesthetically pleasing downtown, with less traffic, less pollution, more gathering places, projected green spaces, a farmers’ market, thriving arts, and an environment where it is harder to do things that are bad for you (smoke, eat fast food) and easier to do things that are good for you (walk, eat vegetables, recreate in nature, bike). The result is arguably the healthiest and happiest city in America.”

Buettner also could have added that San Luis Obispo, California is where one can find one of the coolest jewelry stores in the country, Kevin Main Jewelry Design & Studio. At least you could have, until they closed their doors for the final time on Dec. 27.

Like many of the 10,000 or so jewelry stores that we have lost in the last decade or so, Kevin and Kathi Main have their own unique story.

In the many years that I have known them, they have vacillated between a desire to grow their business and thoughts of wanting to be free of the shackles of not so much owning a jewelry store, but of being owned by the jewelry store, with all of the attendant demands and stresses that come with that responsibility.

What separates Kevin Main Jewelry Design & Studio from many of the other stores that have closed in recent years is their business was profitable. In fact, one might reasonably argue that they really seemed to have figured out many of the challenges that confound other retail stores and created an impressive model.

Their beautiful store features exposed brick, original hardwood floors and tastefully appointed case-lines that are much more a reflection of what retail can be at its best than what it was in 1998, when the store relocated to San Luis Obispo from Morro Bay.

I recently spoke to Kevin and Kathi about their decision to close the business. Here’s what they had to say.

Was there a specific moment when you decided that was it?

Kathi Main: It was probably a culmination of things in 2017. My mom passed, which had put some restrictions on our movement. We also moved closer to the store

and loved being able to walk to work and spend more time with our friends. Then an employee quit, and it served as a reminder that we just weren’t going to be able to do the things we wanted to do if we were always tethered to the store. I’ve been working for 50 years and I just want to go and play while I can.

Kevin Main: I want to go ride my bike. It was time.

Were there any other options besides closing the business?

Kevin: We definitely would have preferred to have someone take over and carry it on. It just didn’t work out. (As of this writing, Kevin and Kathi are still hoping to have another jewelry retailer take over the space.)

Did you have any second thoughts?

Kevin: I probably had more second thoughts than Kathi. In America, when you ask somebody who they are, they tell you what they do. I’ll have to work through that, but I’ll find a way to stay involved at some level.

What will you miss most about running the store?

Kevin: The personal relationships with multiple generations of customers.

Kathi: Our friendships with employees and giving back to our community. We’ll still be involved, but it’s not the same as when you own a business in the town.

What will you miss least about running the store?

Kathi: Employee hassles. San Luis is a well-off community and it’s expensive to live here. It makes for a vibrant customer base, but finding employees was always a challenge.

Kevin: Neither one of us was a very good manager.

What was the biggest takeaway from the closeout process?

Kevin: Brands outperform generics. Hearts On Fire, Marco Bicego and Forevermark did really well, but it was much harder to move the non-branded goods. Good luck if you are looking to close out with junk.


Kevin and Kathi Main, pictured here, both told National Jeweler columnist Peter Smith that they are looking forward to having more free time to pursue hobbies, like biking and painting, in their retirement.


If you were starting your store today, what would you do differently?


Kevin: We would have had an exit strategy right away … even if it was 20 years in the future. It would have made our later years so much more enjoyable if we had known what the plan was.

What are you most excited about now?

Kathi: Freedom to plan my day. Learning to cook again. Taking up painting. Pursuing interests that have been on the back burner for 20 years.

Describe the moment when you closed the doors for the last time.

Kevin: It felt really good. I was turning the page of that chapter and moving on to the next stage of my life. I did everything I needed to do.

Kathi shared with me some notes and messages they received from customers and vendors as word got out that they were closing.

The Mains were surprised when they realized many people in the community, and in the industry, thought they were closing due to challenging finances or failing health. It took a while to let people know they were going out on their own terms, at their own time.

One of the many notes they received came from a woman who had thanked Kevin for making a beautiful bracelet for her now-deceased husband. She wrote that he had worn the bracelet for years as a symbol of his sobriety and his battles. Now that he had passed, his widow was wearing the bracelet and, she wrote, she plans to hand it down to her children.

Another note came from a 10-year-old boy whom Kevin had befriended. The boy had learning disabilities and could never stay focused on anything until his dad introduced him to Kevin and Kevin introduced the young boy to rocks.

He wrote: “Thank you for inspiring me to become a gemologist like you. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have done all this rock stuff … I probably would be playing video games. With the bunch of rocks I now own, I am going to start a business, like you.”

The young boy could not have found a better mentor and inspiration than Kevin Main. Our industry was all the richer for having had he and Kathi amongst our numbers for more than four decades.

Here’s hoping they enjoy their well-earned retirement.

Peter Smith is president of Memoire and author of two books, “Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent,” and “Sell Something: Principles and Perspectives for Engaged Retail Salespeople.” Both books are available in print or Kindle at Amazon.com. Connect with Smith on LinkedIn or at dublinsmith@yahoo.com.
Peter Smithis an industry consultant, speaker, and sales trainer, and author of three books, “Hiring Squirrels,” “Sell Something,” and “The Sales Minute.”

The Latest

CollectionsFeb 03, 2023
Chipotle Spices Up Valentine’s Day with Jewelry Collection

The fast-casual chain partnered with Anna Sheffield’s Bing Bang NYC brand on a capsule collection and it’s a little “extra.”

SourcingFeb 03, 2023
Greenland Ruby Names New CEO

Geologist Arnt-Eirik Rørnes has taken on the role.

EditorsFeb 03, 2023
Piece of the Week: Gismondi 1754’s ‘Marea’ Cuff

The diamond and tanzanite bracelet was inspired by the waves of the Italian gulf near Genoa.

Brought to you by
Bringing Over 130 Years of Diamond Expertise to Modern Grading

De Beers Institute of Diamonds provides the very best in diamond verification, education and diamond services.

CollectionsFeb 02, 2023
Lowe’s Is Now Selling Jewelry

The home improvement store’s website features an “Empowerment Tools” demi-fine jewelry collection.

Weekly QuizFeb 02, 2023
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this short test.
Take the Quiz
Events & AwardsFeb 02, 2023
Registration is Now Open for JIS Spring 2023

The show will feature a new pavilion of 30 jewelry designers and manufacturers from Surat, India.

Policies & IssuesFeb 02, 2023
Tiny Radioactive Capsule Lost in Australian Outback Found

A government official said search crews “found the needle in the haystack” when they located the capsule belonging to Rio Tinto along an 870-mile stretch of road.

Brought to you by
De Beers Institute of Diamonds Expands to Offer Education

De Beers is sharing over 130 years of experience and expertise through the De Beers Institute of Diamonds with a selection of courses.

TrendsFeb 02, 2023
Amanda’s Style File: Purple and Playful

Amanda Gizzi welcomes February with a selection of amethyst jewelry, a birthstone that “deserves its own time to shine.”

EditorsFeb 01, 2023
Designers to Watch in 2023: Boochier

Behind the playful and nostalgic brand lies deeper meaning.

Events & AwardsFeb 01, 2023
New Miami Jewelry Center Slated to Open in Q1

The Time Century Jewelry Center is located in downtown Miami’s jewelry district.

SurveysFeb 01, 2023
Consumer Confidence Falls in January

Wariness about the year ahead offset a more positive view of the current economic situation.

MajorsFeb 01, 2023
Six New Retailers Appointed to IJO’s Board of Directors

The IJO also welcomed one new vendor member to its 13-member board, Brecken Farnsworth of Parlé Jewelry Designs.

ColumnistsJan 31, 2023
Squirrel Spotting: How About a Word for the New Year?

It begins with a “t” and ends with a “c” and is imbued with warmth and positivity, Peter Smith writes.

Policies & IssuesJan 31, 2023
Rio Tinto Issues Apology After Radioactive Capsule Goes Missing

The tiny capsule, which is believed to have fallen out of a truck, was lost somewhere along an 870-mile stretch of desert road.

MajorsJan 31, 2023
Indian Jewelry Brand Tanishq Opens First U.S. Store, More on the Way

The jeweler’s expansion plans include 20 to 30 more stores in North America and the Middle East over the next two to three years.

Events & AwardsJan 31, 2023
Gucci Is Getting a Gem Award

The Italian luxury brand will receive the first Gem Award for High Jewelry Excellence.

MajorsJan 31, 2023
Martin Flyer Names New VP of Business Development

Industry veteran Kevin Lane has stepped into the role.

MajorsJan 30, 2023
Researchers Uncover Bejeweled ‘Golden Boy’ Mummy

The ancient Egyptian teenager was buried 2,300 years ago with 49 amulets to guide him through the afterlife.

SurveysJan 30, 2023
Consumers Embracing Non-Traditional Ways to Mark Valentine’s Day

The NRF’s annual survey shows that consumer attitudes about how, or even whether, to celebrate Feb. 14 continue to evolve.

Events & AwardsJan 30, 2023
JA Is Searching for the Next Retail ’20 Under 40’

Nominations are open now through March 24.

MajorsJan 30, 2023
10 Jewelry News Stories You Might Have Missed

A column detailing how independent jewelers did last year and the top watch brands of 2022 were among the most-read stories last week.

FinancialsJan 27, 2023
Tiffany & Co. Shines for LVMH in 2022

Acquired in 2021, the brand’s high jewelry sales have doubled and its new “Lock” collection was an instant hit.

MajorsJan 27, 2023
Diamond Council of America Appoints Treasurer, Board Member

Executives from Fred Meyer Jewelers and Riddles Jewelers have filled the roles.

CollectionsJan 27, 2023
Piece of the Week: Heavenly Vices’ Lock Necklace

The Victorian-inspired design is a functional lock and key.

Supplier BulletinJan 26, 2023
JA New York Spring Brings the Industry Together

For over 100 years, JA New York has played an integral role in facilitating the evolution of our industry, while also honoring past traditions.

TrendsJan 26, 2023
At Vicenzaoro, Paola De Luca Gazes Into Jewelry’s Future

The trend forecaster and her guests explored unconventional jewelry designs, NFTs, AI art, and more during her Trendvision presentation.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy