Store uses golden rule of pricing
April 12, 2004
A successful small business is like a sturdy arch: Both sides rest on a solid base which shares the load while a keystone keeps the structure from falling apart.
SJS Jewelry House and The Gift Cottage, owned by Scott and Josie O’Banion, is such a business.
It’s built on a foundation of moderate pricing, word-of-mouth advertising and a keystone of quality, which O’Banion learned from his childhood.
“I grew up on a ranch in the Smith Valley, south of Yerington,” he said.
“One thing I hated was having things break down.”
Once he left the ranch, O’Banion sold turquoise, owned a turquoise mine and finally was a truck driver, with near fatal results.
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“I was involved in a wreck and was lucky to survive,” he said.
“After that I decided to go to school and attended the Gemological Institute, which at that time was located in Santa Monica, California.”
After returning home, he spent the next five years working for a jewelry store and moonlighting doing trade work, which entails repairing and cleaning pieces for various stores.
During this time he met and married Josie.
Now life and business partners they started SJS and while the business was growing, O’Banion continued to do trade work until their venture could pay its own way.
Besides cleaning and repairing jewelry, the store’s specialty is creating custom jewelry, usually from a design a customer will bring in.
Many times the piece begins as a sketch on a napkin or scrap of paper.
O’Banion will work with the customer and suggest any modifications that will help make their idea a reality.
Using a wax carving and casting method, which sometimes uses gold supplied by the customer, a high-quality and very sturdy piece is produced.
“I make my mounts strong since I hate things that break,” he said.
If diamonds are required, O’Banion uses a Canadian supplier that has its own mine in the Northwest Territories.
Although SJS is not a discount jeweler, O’Banion uses the golden rule when it comes to pricing.
“I think of what I would be willing to pay if I was on the other side of the counter,” he said.
“I’d rather charge less and have a repeat customer then overcharge and never see them again.”
O’Banion added that many times customers are both shocked and pleased at the final price.
A few years ago, Josie added to their customer base by starting The Gift Cottage, which carries several items including the Wee Forrest Line, which features very small mice in various roles.
“We’re lucky to get them,” she said.
“They’re handmade and we’re one of only two stores in Nevada that carry this line.”
The shop’s reputation for quality and moderate pricing has resulted in a body of customers that constantly refer new business to the store.
This has kept the shop successful in both good and notso- good times.
“People come in and say that soand- so sent me,” Josie said.
Scott added, “It’s about the best kind of advertising you can have, especially in a small town like this.” Unlike many business ventures, the O’Banions never worry about how much they need to budget for advertising since they never need to advertise.
“We’re still busy and very lucky,” Josie said.
The business, now located at the corner of Victorian Avenue and 5th Street, hits a milestone on May 1.
That’s when the O’Banions celebrate the 10th anniversary of the business and look forward to many more years of success.