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|Our Story by Jim Patrick|
By JIM PATRICK
The Jewel Box's manager and co-owner Kathryn Barnes went to university
to study criminology and discovered a crime! She had wasted her time.
Instead she should have opted for something else, goldsmithing, for
Yes, Why not? She's the kid who was raised on the Mile of Gold in
Kirkland Lake and what could be more natural for a Kirkland Lake girl
than to work with the metal so many men in town had moiled so hard to
obtain just a few hundred feet below her store?
Having been wooed by the bright city lights, she was lured back home by
the peace and lifestyle of the North.
"I started the store because I felt there was a need for a goldsmith in
town," she said. And she was right, because a per centage of her business
revolves around the craft.
Funny to think that her mother, Janet, "a jewelry junkie" bored her to tears
as a child by dragging her from one jewelry store to another. Now, you can't
get her out of a jewelry store because it's her own!
She admits she developed her interest in the business by visiting her
cousin's jewelry store when she was a student at York University. Kathryn
visited once too often because she got bit by the "gold bug" and the
"infection" has been in her system since. There's nothing like working
out your own designs in gold and silver, she discovered. Besides, customers
can also get support and service when they purchase a piece of jewelry
without waiting days for an item to be returned.
The Jewel Box celebrates its seventh year of operation and like its owners,
the store has come a long way from Main Street on the outskirts of town
to a front and centre location in a former well-known jewelry store on
Government Road right in the downtown core. There was just a brief
stopover at 59 Government Road near the A-One Variety store.
"We were determined when we started that we would keep this store going
for at least three years come what may," recalled Kathryn.
Commenting on the growth of their business, Kathryn said, "We basically
doubled our inventory; our size; giftwares - Took a chance and went bigger."
Now, Janet and Kathryn are making projections on their business plan for
the next five years.
You've heard of a Mom and Pop operation! well, this is a Mom and daughter
business and it has been so successful that business has soared into
cyberspace. The store has its own website www.tjb.ca
. Not only does
it carry information on the latest jewelry styles and products, it also
contains news about the store and what is going on in Kirkland Lake.
This is a service provided free of charge for her Kirkland Lake neighbours
and friends who have moved away but who still want to keep in touch with
the old town.
Talk about the Jewel Box and you're talking about Kathryn Barnes. They
are one and the same and that might be a reason why it is so successful.
She is completely dedicated to moving her business forward and she has
combined her business smarts with a talent for promotion. She does her
own radio commercials which are on par with any other professional ads,
you'll hear. It's the sort of thing that happens when you're interested
"You have to create a business identity and then work with it. That's what
we have done to give our store 'an edge'."
The "edge" is to stock products her customers won't find elsewhere in the
Walk into the store and you'll discover a new world. At least, that's
what her customers say.
"It's sort of like leaving Kirkland Lake," customers have told Kathryn.
Kathryn and Janet have found suppliers from such exotic fashion spots as
Italy and Europe with some fashion stock coming in from as far away as
Australia. The result has given the store an "urban" flavour Ð something
you'd expect to find in downtown Toronto. Another major feature is the
owners have gone to lengths to make visitors feel at home and welcome.
"It is important to be friendly; to be part of the community and to support
it," Kathryn philosophizes. "This has always been 'a fun' store, comfortable.
At least, that is what we have tried to project."
Part of that support includes being part of the community and Kathryn
has fulfilled this obligation as a member and past president of the
Kirkland Lake and District Chamber of Commerce.
"I think that's why we have received some support back."
Recalling the events of the past seven years, Kathryn said, "The store has
grown so fast that it has created its own momentum. I had planned to work
on my own line of jewelry, but the store took me in a completely different
The store's major wares is jewelry. It carried top Canadian lines but has
now expanded to carry those from Europe and Australia.
"This is our focus. The giftware just adds dimension to the store Ð provides
interest to the store environment."
The Jewel Box also caters to its customers by providing price points to fit
every budget. It is able to compete with the Wal-Marts of the world through
offering higher end products.
"We have better quality diamonds and we also offer customizing with such
things as Canadian diamonds. Or we can tailor for your needs. If you want
18-karat gold instead of 10-karat we can give you that."
Creativity is at the base of her success and the extent of her abilities
is reflected in the results of a contest promoted by the prestigious clothing
and accessories giant Roots. Participants were asked to suggest names for
their new watches to be released for the fall market.
Kathryn looked at it and thought it was "radical". Hence the name. Roots
But Kathryn and Janet's business isn't so radical though, as much as it is
just good business practice.
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