Dynamic young duo brings technology to their jewelry business.
From the pages of In Business magazine.
Manny Soin and Joshua Gamer represent a youth movement of sorts in the retail jewelry business. The co-owners of Middleton Jewelers are building a name for themselves locally and globally, thanks to a keen use of technology and their rather unique and humble approach to business.
Visitors should not be put off by ringing a doorbell to enter. “There’s something to be said about welcoming each of your customers at the door,” Gamer, 36, says. “We’re kind of inviting them into our house.”
Inside, about 70% of the jewelry on display are their own designs, and later this fall they’ll have a line that features meteorite — yes, meteorite, right from outer space. “We don’t want to be like everyone else. People are tired of the same experience,” Gamer says.
A large wall monitor allows them to converse and share design ideas with customers electronically, often through FaceTime or Skype. “Manny has a saying: High tech, high touch. So we use technology to our benefit.”
It also doesn’t hurt to share the same name as a certain Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, which has resulted in jewelry clients from around the globe. “We get emails from England because they think we’re local.”
Soin, 34, graduated from UW–Madison as a business process analyst. Although his physician father had plans for him to become a doctor, Soin followed another path. “Now I’m doing what I want to do,” he says.
Gamer, meanwhile, ran a commercial cleaning company for seven years — which is where he met Soin, his AT&T phone representative, initially — and even ran for County Board supervisor once. He dabbled in real estate, but was hit hard during the Great Recession, so he chose a new career.
“My dad always told me to invest in gold,” Gamer says. “So I started buying class rings.” Gold was at about $800 per ounce then and on the rise. He started conducting in-home gold parties where attendees could trade in their unwanted gold for cash. That led to requests for jewelry repair work and then jewelry design. The business became so successful that he asked Soin to join him. They sold jewelry in private homes and businesses for several years before opening the store in 2013, funding it entirely on their own.
Business has increased 114% since last year and the company is on track to make over seven figures by the end of the year.
Goldsmith Logan Erickson, whom they’d known for years, joined last year. “He’s one of the best,” Soin says. “We love him like a brother.” Two part-timers round out the staff, with more hiring planned this summer.
Soin and Gamer are not only 50-50 partners in the business, they are the best of friends. From time to time, they’ll even finish each other’s sentences. “We’re like a married couple,” they laugh, praising their wives and families for their support.
They appear grounded in their mission, their families, their faith, a commitment to stay humble, and a penchant for customer service. “We’re honest with people,” Gamer insists. “They don’t always need to spend what they think they have to for quality. We encourage them to shop around. Many of our customers started with $30 repair jobs.” Middleton Jewelers averages 80 repair jobs per week.
But the store is really benefiting from the Internet, where people check them out thoroughly before pressing that doorbell. “The beauty of the Internet is that you live in a glass house,” says Gamer, “and our glass is pretty clean.”
6629 University Ave. #104
Middleton, WI 53562
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