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Forty years ago today was my first day at Haltom’s Jewelers …
I was 21 years old, and had recently graduated and gotten married. I started as Assistant Manager of the Haltom’s Ridgmar Mall location, and quickly moved to the downtown store. My starting salary was $4.50 per hour! (No, I did not walk uphill in the snow, both ways, while barefoot.) My mother was horrified, but I was thrilled to be working in luxury retail. As I reflect back, so much has changed, and so much has stayed the same.
Charming customers with stunning jewelry pieces are my favorite memories because of the deep personal connections.
-- I will never forget finding the perfect brooch for a gas station owner who saved and paid in individually folded bills.
-- Nor will I forget assisting a man with no vision who wanted to buy a GIA certified flawless diamond.
-- I’ve helped a friend stop smoking with a Haltom’s “savings account” so they could use their cigarette money for a new watch.
There have been countless sweet, anxious grooms at the engagement ring counter plus some equally sweet ladies that wanted to work with me to style the whole outfit, not just the jewelry. And I will always love the ones that left it to me to find the perfect jewelry gift - some understated and some show stoppers – and these tasks have always been my favorite and most inspiring work.
Our inventory was not computerized in 1980. We added computer software in 1984-85, and I can’t imagine working today without constantly managing what sells and what doesn’t based on computer reports. Speaking of computers, when I started there was no desktop computer at my fingertips. Instead of my LA Likes blog, I helped write and publish a monthly printed newsletter called ClockTalk.
Customers used to call our switchboard with questions. Today, customers and potential customers text, or send messages via Facebook, Instagram or Google - and we respond through the day and night. We’re happy to help by text or instant messaging, but we still love seeing shoppers in person. I know from experience that rings look different in person (and on the hand) than they do on a phone screen!
One of the big fears in the 1980’s and 1990’s focused on the mall. People believed it was destined to overtake all independent retailers and we were doomed if we didn’t move there. I’m so glad Haltom’s took the independent road because look at the malls today! Now, everyone is afraid the internet will kill the brick-and-mortar stores. I honestly believe I’ll work long enough to outlast that fear, and see what the next one will be.
Being downtown gets in your blood, and I cannot imagine working anywhere else. The roads and neighborhoods have grown, but my basic route to work has been the same. I now listen to music on Apple play, but still go over my daily “to do” list while driving.
After 40 years, I have no intention of stopping. I will always love fine jewels and timepieces, and I’ll continue learning more about them. Fifty years is right around the corner, and I’m already wondering what will be new and exciting in 2030?! I’m also looking forward to seeing what will stay the same. One thing’s for sure – I’ll still be here!