Working in a third generation jewelry store, I’m often asked, “What’s the secret of Argo & Lehne’s success?”
For those who don’t know me, I’m Michelle Berger, President of Argo & Lehne Jewelers. Native to Upper Arlington, I left for 15 years, returned to Columbus and collaborated with the Argo’s to lead the store in a new direction. We had countless meetings identifying the store’s unique niche in our local industry, our target customers and where we see ourselves in the future. Whatever changes we made, we knew we would be consistent and authentic with who we have always been: a jeweler with the highest quality products, highest ethical standards and highest level of service – a Columbus tradition.
I once read the average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 Index is just 15 years! To still be here after nearly a century and have weathered the Great Depression, countless recessions and numerous wars, it’s clear we’re doing something to satisfy our customers and create advocates.
In my short 2 plus years at Argo & Lehne, I’ve found we have standout core strengths that are the cornerstones of our success.
Location, Location, Location!
Originally located downtown, we found the majority of our customers lived in the Upper Arlington area. In 1959, we opened our Kingsdale location to bring our high-end shopping experience closer to our customer base.
As a jewelry store near OSU, we have always been fortunate to have a diverse population which includes a large number of customers in education and tech careers. They are usually not as affected by the economic fluctuations and tend to be very discriminating and careful purchasers. They have always enjoyed the high quality that Argo & Lehne consistently provides. We have also found that the individualist enjoys our store because of our custom work, one of a kind pieces, vintage and unique non-branded jewelry.
Mind the Gap!
It just so happens that the Argo’s have been mindful of the generation gap within the store. Between each generation there has always been a narrow age gap of approximately 15 years +/-. This has provided for smooth transitions and kept ideas fresh and innovative.
Quality Matters in Both Product and Customer Experience
Due to our longevity, we have always had strong relationships with high-quality suppliers and jewelers. We guarantee every piece that leaves the store meets our high standards of excellence. So many of our customers find comfort in the extra details we have made commonplace.
A part of our philosophy has always been that the executives of the company are on the showroom floor and accessible to customers. You will see Robert Argo or myself delivering gifts to customers, cutting rings off fingers, carrying boxes of goods to customer’s cars, identifying and assisting in the dispersing of families’ estate jewelry and sterling, etc… Because of this extra care, we are connected to our customers and know what they need and want from their jeweler.
Don’t Fear Change, Embrace It!
Simply put, if it’s not working, dump it. Change is inevitable and being adaptable is a requirement. A great example is when we used to sell major brands such as Rolex. We found that our customer wanted more diversity and being tied to a specific brand didn’t allow us to be flexible. The brand dictated what was in our showcase, how we displayed the merchandise and essentially began to define us.
A decision was made and we broke free of the major marks to be able to offer our customers more individualized pieces. That decision worked for us then and continues to, especially with millennials searching for a more personable and custom experience.
We are Family!
It doesn’t matter if our last name is Argo, we are all family within this store. We work as a team, we believe in similar core values, we exude individuality and we aim to please all of our customers. By sharing like-minded philosophies we have an instant connection and authenticity to the brand. By being individuals we have multiple ways to get to a similar result.
We can’t say it enough: without you, we wouldn’t exist. Our customers are for life, from young children who received their first engraved baby cup to their engagement ring, anniversaries and every big occasion in between. We understand the importance of offering products for every age and every price point. Being a tradition to our customer is what makes us successful.
Our Neighborhood and Community
From the beginning, Argo & Lehne has always been a huge part of the community. We are members of Rotary and the Columbus Museum of Art Women’s Board. We support local artists through our quarterly “Art at Argo’s” exhibits in the showroom and by sponsoring events such as the UA Labor Day Art’s Festival. We connect with our local schools, libraries and philanthropic organizations through donations.
We have excelled by being part of many jewelers’ communities. We have belonged to the American Gem Society since the 1940’s, shortly after the trade group began. We also were a part of an industry group called the Retail Jewelers Research Group. The group was made up of the top stores in their cities with which we were able to exchange figures and ideas.
We continue to share ideas with organizations such as The American Gem Society (where I am the vice-president of the local guild and Robert Argo is an AGS Certified Gemologist Appraiser), the American Gem Trade Association and the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee. I have always believed in hiring those who are smarter than me and being part of groups that educate me and help me grow.
It is through all of these components that we are continually successful. We look for opportunities to grow our strengths by the demands surrounding us while staying true to who we are.
The Argo & Lehne Mission
Our mission is to connect our customers with products that are as unique and one of a kind as they are.
We are modern artisans, fiercely dedicated to quality, individual style, and genuine relationships with our customers.
We are a local business, located in a familiar and convenient neighborhood setting.
At Argo & Lehne, we strive to deliver a jewelry buying experience that cannot be found elsewhere – just like our jewelry.