A fun-loving spirit proves more than just a personality trait at Wright’s Jewelry Store: It might be the key to success.
The 85-year-old business in “one-stoplight” Fallston, N.C., recently paired a classic theme with up-to-the-minute marketing techniques in its second annual Pirates’ Treasure Chest Giveaway. During the 10-day event, store partners Jennifer Beatty and Matt Gordon donned pirate T-shirts, beckoned customers on Facebook Live with their best versions of the lingo – lots of aarghs and mates – and gave free treasure-chest keys to walk-ins.
By the end of the promotion, customers had won some $10,000 worth of jewelry, including a $4,000 grand prize ring. And a good time was had by all: New customers boarded the good ship, previous customers became repeat visitors, and store personnel shared in the laughter and thrill of the bounty.
Third-generation jeweler Beatty credits event guru “Diamond” Bill Warren for the pirate-themed promotion idea and social media for increasing the energy. Gordon, a goldsmith, concluded that overall adding events to the store’s yearly plan has increased traffic and helped generate targeted sales goals.
“When a customer came in,” Beatty says, “we asked them how they heard about the event. Was it text? Email? Facebook, postcards? This way we were able to see which form of marketing reached our customers the most.”
As it turned out, Facebook and Facebook Live sales events have proven a major force, as Beatty believed instinctively before officially becoming a partner.
The store, founded in 1937 by Loy Wright, consisted of one showcase and a watchmaker’s bench occupying a rented space in a hardware store. When Loy died of muscular dystrophy in 1944, his brother Harvey joined the store. After his death in 1962, also of muscular dystrophy, their half-brother Cecil Wright, Beatty’s grandfather, took over. Cecil eventually built the 2,000-square-foot store that Wright’s occupies today. Jimmy Lee – Cecil and wife Ethelee’s son-in-law and Beatty’s father – joined the store 50 years ago and became a partner in 1992. Cecil died of cancer in 2000, and Jimmy and wife Suzanne formed a new partnership with Gordon in 2013. Beatty joined as a partner in 2020.
Although she grew up in the family store and promised her late grandfather she would take care of it when she grew up, the situation wasn’t right at first and she began a career as a speech pathologist.
When the pandemic hit, and the store found itself rolling out a showcase of jewelry for a parking-lot sale ahead of Mother’s Day 2020, Beatty who had maintained a part-time speech therapy tele-practice for a bit, saw that “Daddy needed to slow down,” and decided the time was right to join the store as a partner.
As her managing-partner father concentrated on the business side, Beatty and Gordon began an event-driven operations model, and the social-media marketing angle soon bore Beatty’s signature.
“I kept telling Daddy, ‘You’ve got to be on Facebook,’ and he’d say, ‘I won’t do it.’ So, I said I’d do it and he said, ‘Knock yourself out.’”
Today, Beatty relies heavily on Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram to promote Wright’s. She also maintains an e-commerce site.
The two younger partners display plenty of instinct and drive to make the store succeed. Gordon, who joined the shop at 16, learned goldsmithing from Lee and has been with the store for 30 years. He credits the store’s success with everyone’s hands-on approach: “We do everything here.”
Like Gordon, Beatty has no formal training, but has designed unique pieces nonetheless by getting together with customers, looking for types of items they like online, seeing what can be done with gems they already have, sketching or using Photoshop to visualize, and sending out designs to have them cast off-site.
Beatty says she tries to work the Wright’s “W” into any custom pieces. She placed eight W’s in an “empowering” divorce ring she designed for her sister using her sister’s old wedding and engagement set for the diamonds and setting them off with sapphires from Mom and Dad.
The partners agree that a major key to the store’s success is relatability.
“It’s the way we treat people, our welcoming style. We’re like family,” Beatty says. “We try to treat customers like we want to be treated. We have had customers who have pointed out to us that they don’t feel comfortable in other stores, whereas when they come here, they say, ‘I don’t have to know what anything is, I can ask questions and it’s OK.’”