Based in Charlotte, N.C., Grice Showcase & Display Manufacturing is a full-service supplier to retail jewelers across the country and overseas. It’s a concept-to-installation operation with no external sales representatives - customers deal directly with the manufacturer.
“Since the inception of our company, we have always dealt directly with the end user of our goods: our clients,” says owner Keely Grice, well known in the industry for his friendly personality and industry expertise. “Our staff and employees vary during the year based on demand. All have exceptional talents to address the details needed to provide and produce custom goods for our clients. As in most family businesses, staff is part of the family and we all care for each other.”
Grice Showcase serves clients in all of the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. Over the years, the company has served customers in Moscow, Tahiti, South America, Canada and the Caribbean.
Some buyers come to Charlotte to visit the facility directly. But after 35 years, Keely says: “The company has established itself with quality, so many trust our talents and abilities. Some request that we come to visit their stores and city. When a family looks to relocate, remodel, expand or even refurbish, a visit to them is more important than a visit to our plant.”
Keely has been involved in the jewelry industry since 1977, when he worked with ArtCarved in the Washington, D.C., area. Three years later, he returned to his hometown of Charlotte and joined Columbia Diamond Rings as a rep. “A group founded the Charlotte Jewelers Market in 1981, and I became president of the group in 1983. During this time, I met our showcase supplier, who supplied us with rental showcases. In 1984, the supplier offered me the opportunity to purchase his business.”
In October of that year, the purchase was complete, and Grice Showcase & Display was founded
The plant now encompasses almost 53,000 square feet of space. It houses three major departments: The “Wood Shop” cuts out and assembles the custom ordered fixtures. The next step is the “Finishing Department,” where interior and exterior finishes are applied. The final step in manufacturing is the “Trim Department,” where all the glass, hardware and lighting are installed within the fixture. About 3,000 square feet of the facility’s space is dedicated to the showroom and offices.
Grice serves independent jewelers with design layout services, custom, standard and stock showcases, free-standing displays and counter systems. “We offer and provide an extensive variety and selection of custom, build-to-suit manufactured goods and services,” Keely says. “We discuss with our clients what they want, and we manufacture to their specifications. From an entire store full of fixtures (showcases/displays, POS counters, wall cases, towers, custom front-opening displays, walk-around front-opening islands, custom computer sketch stations, beverage bars), we design and build to suit our clients and the fixtures they need.”
Along with manufacturing custom showcases and displays, Grice offers consultation and store planning services to its clients. “With 42 years of overall service to the jewelry industry, we know quite a bit of how such a store operates,” Keely says. “The knowledge acquired over these years benefits our clients when deciding to relocate or renovate. From the ‘showroom’ to the ‘back of the house,’ we can relate with our clients’ needs and requirements. We have the knowledge of our industry like no other and can assist in referencing other needs - boxes, displays, props, safe, vault, security - for our clients. We’re requested to visit many of our clients to study their store and way of business, along with possible moves to better their business for the long term.”
Grice also offers rental services for the Atlanta Jewelry Show and others. “The rental showcase business is only a small part of our yearly business,” Keely says. “However, this does connect us to jewelry manufacturing companies and their reps, whose word-of-mouth referral is highly beneficial to our organization.”
Keely says the demand for Grice’s products and services has never been better. “There are many independent jewelers going through a ‘generational transition,’ ” he says. “As sons and daughters work with their families, they mature and see the value of the service offered to their communities. They encourage their parents to explore expansion, relocation and/or remodeling to enhance their stores and offer more to their clients. Those that move forward with such exciting opportunities find a marvelous and successful transition for future business. These ‘heirs’ to the family business want the best for their families and a better tomorrow for all.”
Although Grice’s product has not changed dramatically over the 35 years of serving independent jewelers, some “ergonomic changes have been made to better assist the client and their buyers, as dimensional changes have been accomplished,” Keely says.
“The newest and currently expanding concept in our industry is ‘shoulder to shoulder’ sales experience. Removing the ‘barrier’ between the buyer and seller creates a more personal sales experience. Therefore, many new stores are combining the traditional and bridal cases with this new and friendly sales and product presentation. Another big advantage of such front-opening displays and smaller walk-around, front-opening islands is they take up less space, or square footage, and still offer substantial linear footage of inventory.”
Trust in Grice
For the past 35 years, Grice Showcase has been a rigorous supporter of the jewelry industry and the trade in general. “Serving these wonderful families and smaller regional chain accounts has allowed us to provide goods and services that we can stand behind,” Keely says. “Over the years, the references and referrals provided by our clients has established Grice as a trusted name and supplier. Trust has been and always will be a large part of our company.”
Grice’s active involvement with trade organizations over many years has benefitted the company as well. “The reason for volunteering in any trade organization is to benefit its members and the buyers as a group,” Keely says. “Volunteer work is many times a thankless task, but when the organization and the trade benefit from such service, it is very satisfying.
“There is no way I can ever truly thank all of those whose paths have crossed mine. From New York to Las Vegas, Chicago to Atlanta, Dallas to Columbus, Charlotte to Miami, I have visited trade events and have had the honor to meet so many families and trade associates. These individuals and families are friends, and I have been given a ‘present’ each and every time I see each of them again.”