Professional Jeweler Archive: At Home with the Levinsons

March 2005

The Store | Image

At Home with the Levinsons

Residential comforts, a celebrity ad campaign and charitable giving help this South Florida luxury jeweler retain customers of all ages

By Michael Thompson

Customers at Levinson Jewelers in Plantation, FL – some of whom moved to Florida for an active retirement – might be forgiven for lingering after the sale because the staff makes them feel like guests in the home of owners Robin and Mark Levinson. The effect is deliberate. The Levinsons expanded and redesigned for years, finally adding 3,000 square feet to the store several years ago for a total of 10,000 square feet.

“Our clients travel the world, but when they want to shop and buy, they come back here,” says Robin Levinson. This store’s approach provides insight about creating an atmosphere conducive to retaining the high-achieving Baby Boom customers. The leading edge of the Boomers are turning 60 and marching toward retirement.

Wood floors, oriental rugs and comfortable living room furniture around coffee tables encourage customers to stay on to enjoy coffee, soft drinks or water. More than two dozen plush bar-style chairs dot the store near showcases. The store evokes an old-style atmosphere many older customers may recall from their youth, while still appealing to younger customers who appreciate the current vogue for vintage decor.

Levinson Jewelers also has a high-end den. Customers may view jewelry and timepieces in a private viewing room or sit and watch a tubeless plasma screen that highlights premier vendors and upcoming promotional events.

The feeling of home the store evokes is reinforced by the way sales associates greet customers. They engage them in conversation – often about Florida’s spectacular weather – rather than opening with the stiff formality of “May I help you?”

Old friends stay friendly, evidenced in the number of repeat customers. As the Levinsons explain, customers like to return to a store where they are known and greeted by name.

Booth to Independent

Founded as a booth in a South Florida jewelry exchange, Levinson Jewelers is now one of the top high-end independent jewelry retailers in the U.S. Last year it was named Retail Marketer of the Year at the Couture Design Awards ceremony in Phoenix, AZ.

The award resulted from years of attention to attracting and keeping customers. The store has a well-received celebrity ad campaign featuring local CEOs, retired and active sport figures and other luminaries, among them former Miami Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt, Florida Marlins outfielder Jeff Conine, Gill Hotels CEO Linda Gill and Union Bank CEO Lynne Wines.

Out-of-Store Experiences

When not shopping, Levinson customers often go out in the evenings – the store provides them with enticing options about 20 times a year. Most of the events Robin and Mark Levinson organize benefit a charity. “These generate a lot of good feeling, enhance the image of the store and contribute to a worthy cause,” she says.

One example: a tie-in to Latin singer/ songwriter Soraya, who joined Levinson Jewelers to raise awareness of breast cancer. A survivor of the disease, Soraya received a necklace depicting a pink ribbon – the symbol of the fight against breast cancer – that was designed for her by jewelry designer Barry Kronen. Now, Levinson Jewelers sells the 18k rose gold, pink sapphire and diamond necklace in three sizes and donates 30% of those proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, for which Soraya is a spokesperson.

While many companies present manufacturers or designers at an in-store selling event, the Levinsons prefer to bring customers together in out-of-store locations. One example is the Levinson Jewelers Theater at the Clear Channel Studios, a local venue where the store holds events that feature well-known entertainers. In November the Levinsons hosted a star-studded evening with 200 guests at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale that raised $42,000 for Here’s Help, a private, non-profit rehabilitation agency. This spring, the Levinsons will invite members of a local book club to their home to meet and have dinner with a well-known author.

The 10,000-sq.-ft. Levinson Jewelers offers comfortable seats where customers are encouraged to feel at home.
Former Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt and his wife, Jan, are the epitome of the relaxed, affluent mature customers Levinson Jewelers has attracted to its store.

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications