“SCORE gave us the confidence to overcome our fears of opening our own store…and helped us understand the business side of the operation”
Two visionary entrepreneurs with a passion for the retail jewelry business came to SCORE seeking guidance to start their new business. Becky Clifford and Laura Imhof had been employed by Lockhart Jewelers of Downingtown, Pa. for many years having become skilled artisans in custom jewelry design and repair, and in inventory selection and counter sales. After the untimely death of their employer, Ronald Lockhart and subsequent liquidation of the business, Becky and Laura were left with a major career decision… “What do we do now?”.
Lockhart Jewelers had been the only jeweler located in downtown Downingtown and many loyal customers were asking Becky and Laura where to go now that the business was closing. The prospect of starting their own business appeared overwhelming. They set up a counseling session with two SCORE counselors, Charlie Espenlaub and Jim Freidman, after having heard about SCORE from a local business owner. After listening to Becky and Laura talk about their passion for opening their own jewelry store, Charlie and Jim discussed the business issues to be addressed when starting up a retail business. SCORE assisted Becky and Laura in understanding the potential profitability of the various retail jewelry product and service lines and therefore the products and services they should focus on in a startup business. SCORE also assisted them with the selection of their business location, counseled them on borrowing money to finance their startup, and apprised them of other support services they would require to become a successful retail business.
Becky and Laura opened their store in October 2009. What makes this story most remarkable is that their business continues to grow, and is now prof- itable when many small retail jewelers are closing or facing operating losses in these difficult economic times. Laura says “SCORE gave us the confidence to overcome our fears of opening our own store”.
Becky and Laura believe that another factor of their businesses’ success is personalized customer service. They continue to see many old customers or “old friends” from their days at Lockhart Jewelers plus a growing base of new repeat customers. Becky says, “Attention to detail and going that extra mile to meet our customer’s needs has been our secret to success”. She says “For in- stance a customer needed a piece of jewelry repaired within 24 hours of her wedding and we met the challenge”. Laura says, “Becky and I had the passion for the selling, crafting and repairing jewelry and SCORE helped us understand the business side of the operation”