Customer service key to jewelry store’s success

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Mar 06, 2013 - 01:41 PM

Photo: Joan Roane, owner of Vashti’s Jewelry and Gift Shoppe in Gloucester, worked for her mother when the shop first opened in 1961, but has owned and operated Vashti’s herself for over 20 years. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Joan Roane, owner of Vashti’s Jewelry and Gift Shoppe in Gloucester, worked for her mother when the shop first opened in 1961, but has owned and operated Vashti’s herself for over 20 years. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Vashti’s Jewelry and Gift Shoppe in Edgehill Shopping Center, Gloucester, celebrated its 52nd anniversary last month, and owner Joan Roane has been a part of it from the beginning.

Roane was just a teenager when her mother, Vashti Horsley Wilcher, purchased the former H.B. Heath Jewelers, where Wilcher had been employed. The business was originally located on Gloucester’s Main Street in a building now incorporated into the Gazette-Journal offices. But when a spot became available in the shopping center, where there were a lot of other family businesses, the jewelry store moved.

Although Wilcher was the owner, Roane did her fair share of work, too, helping out with sales and bookkeeping and serving as purchaser for the store’s gift lines.

In those days, the store had a lot of china, crystal and silver, said Roane. Brides shopped there for their fine household goods, while prospective grooms were likely to purchase engagement and wedding rings there.

Today, said Roane, many of the lines that she once had on the shelves are too expensive to keep in stock and have to be ordered, while the shelves contain practical housewares. In addition, the number of cases that hold gold jewelry has dropped, while the number containing silver jewelry has grown.

"People often can’t afford gold," she said.