Last updateTue, 22 May 2018 10pm

Largest family-owned jewelry store in the south opens in Memphis


Sissy Jones’ start in jewelry retail experienced steady growth in the early days at her Pine Bluff, Arkansas store. That growth has not declined over the last decade, and it’s been difficult to keep up with the Joneses. The family has been quickly reacting to lucrative market opportunities by doubling the space of their first Pine Bluff store in 2005 and opening three stores in five years, with two store openings in Arkansas (2010 and 2012) and a brand-new store that opened last month in Memphis.  

Sissy-Bill-NovSissy opened Sissy’s Log Cabin in 1970 in a 900-square-foot log cabin. Twenty-one years later she knocked down the old cabin and built a 6,000-square-foot freestanding store. Unsure at the time about expanding the business with another location, Sissy, her husband Murphy and their son Bill decided to add another 6,000 square feet to the existing Pine Bluff store in 1998.  

Being an authorized Rolex store, offering an eclectic range of fine jewelry, the notoriety of being the largest jewelry store in Arkansas, and, of course, “the customer is always right” customer service allowed the family store to achieve year-on-year double-digit growth in the hay days. But in 2005, that explosive growth leveled off.

“That’s when we decided to advertise more to out-of-market customers,” says Bill Jones, president of Sissy’s. “Based in Jefferson County, 75 to 80 percent of our customers were travelling 25 to 50 miles to shop at our Pine Bluff store.”

With Little Rock 45 miles from Pine Bluff, advertisement for the Pine Bluff store had already saturated the Little Rock market by the late 2000s. Determined to keep Rolex a prominent watch brand for her retail brand, in 2009 Sissy learned that an authorized dealership opened in Little Rock. And, in typical fashion, Sissy prayed hard about the possibility of opening a second store.

“My philosophy has always been, if you’re not moving forward you’re moving backward,” says Sissy, founder and CEO of Sissy’s Log Cabin (with three locations in Arkansas and one in Tennessee). “And, when we learned about a Rolex dealership opening in Little Rock, we prayed and thought about it long and hard and opened our doors in a strip mall located in the Heights of Little Rock in 2010.”

With a super-store in Pine Bluff and a new store in Little Rock, business growth made the Jones family comfortable – but not complacent. Jonesboro, Arkansas, was a lucrative market showing great potential as one of the fastest growing cities in the state, the region and the country. And, as luck and timing would have it, a Rolex dealership opened up in Jonesboro.

“With two stores already carrying Rolex we were thrilled that Rolex contacted us, asking our family if we wanted take on another Rolex store,” says Sissy.

With the growing pains of a second location still fresh in their minds, the Joneses held a family huddle that involved much thought, discussion and prayer. With industry growing and families moving to Jonesboro for better schools, the promise of a burgeoning market was too hard to resist. In early 2011 the family broke ground on a third location and by early 2012 the staff was trained, in place and ready for their first holiday season in a new freestanding store. 

Content with three Arkansas-based stores in stable and developing cities, the Jones family wasn’t planning on opening another store – especially one in neighboring Tennessee. But another opportunity to explore a vibrant city presented itself last year in Memphis, the largest market the Joneses’ family-owned business would serve.  

Prayers once again were answered in the affirmative. The family surveyed many possible store sites in Memphis finally deciding on the Laurelwood Shopping Center. Mailings to the Memphis market have been going out for four months including 3,000 copies of the family’s current maga-log (store news and information combined with catalog pages and print ads from key vendors).  The new store opened with a soft launch on October 8 to 9, with grand opening celebrations slated for the first two weeks of November. 

The new mall-based store will have the familiar log cabin facade, but there will be some noticeable differences from other Sissy stores. Each Sissy’s Log Cabin store sells Rolex watches, but only the new Memphis store will have a Rolex boutique. No stranger to strategic partnerships the Memphis store will also have a shared door with high-end men’s clothier James Davis. “This is a totally new concept for us that will bring good cross-clienteling for both stores,” says Sissy.

In 2020, Sissy and her family will celebrate their golden anniversary. In the lead up to their 50 years in business, Sissy, Murphy and Bill have their eyes on Hot Springs, Arkansas. Similar to Jonesboro, Hot Springs shows great promise as a growing market.

Sissy-Memphis-ext-NovWith four stores in two states, the original Pine Bluff store has been established as the family business headquarters. Although each market is slightly different, consistency in customer service is critical to those accustomed to the jewelry buying experience at a Sissy’s Log Cabin store. New employees go through three weeks of sales training with curriculum outlined in Sissy’s Log Cabin University.

In each market the store’s local Women’s Advisory Board helps Sissy and Bill better tailor jewelry buying for fashion tastes, spending thresholds, and age demographics. Bench jewelers and watchmakers providing expert and speedy repairs and custom work will also be staples in every Sissy’s store.  

And, of course, every store including the new location in Memphis will have Sissy’s signature hand-blown glass angel with a quote from Proverbs 20:24: “A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?”

Daily morning prayers and Friday morning devotions are another consistency for each of the now four Sissy’s Log Cabin stores. Sissy, her family, and her “extended family” of sales associates and administrative support staff are part of a Christian-based, family-owned company that has relied on prayer for guidance, strength and wisdom.

“Whether its day-to-day blessings or making a big move to grow the family business, prayer has always provided the answers,” says Sissy.

The Jones family is anxious to meet and surpass their goals and customer expectations with the opening of a fourth store with eyes set on a fifth to open in Hot Springs in the next three to five years. But the success never goes to Sissy’s head. The early days of termite-infested wood, pouring anti-freeze down the outdoor facility, and a potbellied stove for heat in the winter months have forever shaped her humble appreciation for each and every customer that enters her stores’ showrooms.  

“Even though we’ve had many famous people like Elvis Presley shop in our store the most important customer is the one standing in front of me,” says Sissy.