Editor’s note: Roaring Back to Life highlights local businesses and organizations that have transformed themselves in the wake of COVID-19. To be spotlighted, email intern Cara Chang at email@example.com for more details.
Owners Kenny and Robin Smith have been bringing luxury jewelry and timepieces to Aspen since 2003. With more outreach and new sanitation protocols, Meridian Jewelers is even more dedicated to keeping clients happy, comfortable and safe.
Aspen Daily News: What need do you fulfill in the community?
Owner Robin Smith: We offer an extraordinary curation of beautiful jewelry and exceptional watches for every occasion. In addition, we’re the most reasonably priced watch battery in town.
ADN: What do you love most about operating a business in the Roaring Fork Valley?
RS: How to narrow that down? Impossible. But I think being nestled in nature’s treasure chest would have to be the number one reason. I love being in Meridian Jewelers, but I love being in our surroundings even more.
ADN: How did the shutdown impact your business this spring?
RS: It certainly impacted the balance in March — which is usually huge, as is the balance in the beginning of April — and we have a pretty strong offseason also. So we had to work really hard as it wasn’t people coming in saying, “This is a beautiful store. That’s a pretty necklace. I’ll think I’ll take it today because I’m on vacation.” We really reached out to a lot of our clients, and luckily we know a lot of them quite well. We know when their birthdays and anniversaries are, things they’re fond of.
We hustled through that and kept in touch with people. We’ve always reached out to clients but this definitely tests your mettle as a salesperson. It’s one thing having someone walk in and then showing them something and selling it versus picking up the phone and calling them and saying, “This is pretty fabulous. Maybe I should send it to you to take a look at.” It was a good reminder that you need to be a good salesperson, you need to have great relationships (which I feel we do), and it really hit home the importance of maintaining those all the time.
ADN: How are you reacting to the new business climate?
RS: We try to be very vigilant and conscientious about the health and mask regulations, for everyone’s sake, and have gotten creative working with those who aren’t as comfortable coming to town by bringing pieces to their residences if they wish or having virtual appointments.
We [also] have different cleaners for the jewelry that we use in between people trying them on and we have ultraviolet wands that kill the germs; you wave them over. Just working hard to make the precious jewelry- and watch-buying experience just as special and momentous as it was prior to COVID-19, if not more.
ADN: How have your consumers adapted to this new normal?
RS: They have all been real troopers, I can tell you. And they have been incredibly supportive of Meridian and many other local businesses, which is so heartwarming, and frankly, humbling.
ADN: Has your supply been affected by the pandemic?
RS: It has. Several of our manufacturers shut down for several months, and in the watch industry that’s huge. Once those pipelines shut down it’s months until they get back up and running, so things you may have had on order or backorder take another three months. Repairs take another three months.
The jewelry designer kept designing, but again the manufacturing, again, was kicked down the road a little bit later. We would’ve been going to Las Vegas and the different jewelry and watch shows in the spring and early summer, and they were all canceled. Some companies didn’t launch new things, but a lot of them did. We did Zoom meetings and got to see some of the new things they’ve been making. They’ll be shipping now and then in early fall and more towards the holiday.
We have a pretty great selection as it stands, so I just bought in deeper to some of the classics — pieces that people already love that are staples in their jewelry wardrobe. Those always sell. We [also] had some pretty special pieces going into the shutdown, so we still had them if we didn’t sell them during them during the quarantine itself.
ADN: What do you need to make it through the season?
RS: Being able to stay open, our wonderful and loyal clientele. I think everyone airing on the side of being overly considerate of one another and really thinking about the other person above yourself for just a while until we get through it will make Aspen and our country a better place. Personally, [I need] the outdoors.
ADN: What does the future hold?
RS: If I knew that, I’d run for president. For now, I’ll say uncertainty. What I can say is that Meridian will continue to adapt and flow with whatever the future may bring to the best of our ability.
ADN: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not managing your business?
RS: Cooking with and for family and friends, hiking, biking or anything outdoors, spending time with family doing all of the above… with some low-stakes poker thrown in for good measure.
Name of organization: Meridian Jewelers
Years in business: 18
Address: 525 East Cooper Avenue, Aspen
Phone number: 970-925-3833
Number of Employees: 6