By Deborah Hilcove
Fine-jewelry favorite moves into future with new owners, same promise of sterling service
For nearly 25 years, Tempe-based Day’s Fine Jewelry has been the destination for customers looking for fashionable jewelry sold at “the right price.” And, of course, for a jeweler to whom doing business the right way has helped make his small, slightly hidden-away location an equally longtime go-to favorite.
Now, owner Dave Kendall, who has spent more than 47 years in the business, says it’s time to pass the store’s history—and its reputation—along to another owner who follows the same philosophy of right pricing, right service and a downright commitment to following in the same footsteps as Kendall did from the time he was a 10-year-old in his dad’s shop in Kentucky.
“My dad taught me the importance of integrity— treating everybody the best you can,” Kendall says. That philosophy, he says, has been successful in building a loyal clientele. Now the time has come for Kendall to pursue retirement with his wife Norma and turn the store over to Lorin and Ginger Jones.
The transition, now only weeks away from Kendall walking out the door officially one last
time, has him brimming with thoughts of the happy experiences he has shared with customers for nearly three decades.
“I really want to thank all my customers,” he says. “Many of them came in with young children, and now those ‘kids’ are coming in for engagement rings.”
The first customer of the day rings the buzzer and Kendall pushes the door-unlocking button.
“I just came in for the watch you repaired.” She looks around curiously. “Hey, Dave. Where’s the Elvis music? I miss it.” Posters of “The King” decorate the walls. Kendall motions to the Christmas tree and shows several Elvis ornaments.
“Customers gave these to me. Look at this one,” and he shows a small phonograph imprinted with an Elvis portrait. “Listen,” he flips a tiny switch and it plays “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
A steady flow of customers is buzzed into the store, serenaded by Elvis’ carols. Kendall exchanges friendly banter with each customer, catching up on their families, kids home for the holidays, the weather, holiday plans.
“I’ve sold the store,” Kendall says, “and I need to clear inventory. Jewelry’s marked down 40-70 percent.”
One customer, Nancy, is complimented on her earrings. She touches an ear and nods, “Oh, yes. I don’t match the pair, haven’t worn a matching pair in years. Just my ‘thing.’ I’m looking for some hoop earrings, Dave. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Another customer is buzzed in and Kendall greets her: “Ready for Thanksgiving?”
“I’m going to a friend’s. Making rice pudding. How ‘bout you, Dave?”
“Oh, I’m looking forward to my wife’s jalapeño oyster dressing. It’s the best.”
A man enters, pauses at the jewelry case. “I’m looking for a watch.”
Kendall motions to the case, adding that he’s also selling some of his own watches. “I used to have quite a collection, but no need for so many. I’m keeping some of my favorites, though.”
Kendall’s customer-friendly approach to business will continue when the keys are handed over to the Joneses. Kendall and the new owners will work together through February so the Joneses can be introduced to longtime customers and manage the changeover in ownership.
Jones, an award-winning jewelry designer, has 32 years of experience in the jewelry business and says he has wanted his own store for quite some time. “Dave and I have the same philosophy: treat the customer well and price things right.”
He adds, “I’m looking forward to stocking the cases with my own designs. I specialize in wedding sets. I love working with the customer and making what they have in their minds. I can make a 3-D treasure that they can wear a lifetime. I love it when younger customers bring in heirlooms—and I made the heirloom.”
Kendall and his wife plan to retire in Prescott where they own a vacation home in the pines. “We’re looking forward to spending time with our grandkids and family, hiking, riding my Harley, going to some movies. We’ll enjoy the Christmas season. It’ll be the first time I haven’t been working 16 hours, six days a week, and another 13 hours on Sunday.”
As to leaving the store and the abundance of friends he has acquired over the years, Kendall shares a bit of mixed emotion:
“I’m so happy to leave the store with Lorin. He worked nearly three years for me about 17 years ago, and we’ve remained friends. We even share the same birthday. He’s loyal and will treat customers right. He’s an awesome designer.”
Pausing, Kendall catches his breath. “I want to thank all my customers for their business, for making me successful. It’s bittersweet. I’ve been coming in that back door for 25 years. I guess you can say, ‘Elvis has left the building.’”
Day’s Fine Jewelry is located in the Fry’s Center at the southeast corner of McClintock and Guadalupe. Call 480-831-6086 for extended holiday hours.