by Carrie Resch
Business is golden for Hemming Plaza Jewelers, a family owned and operated store that recently celebrated its first anniversary.
“Business is doing great,” owner Juan Gonzalez said. “We blew the goal by 20 percent by first year, and it looks like this year is going to blow that one out of the water.”
In fact, the store is doing so well that if business keeps going at the same rate, Gonzalez plans to open two more jewelry stores, one downtown and one in another area. The new downtown location is planned to be open the middle to end of next year and will be bigger with more upper-class appeal.
Gonzalez chose a downtown location for his business because he has faith that it’s a growing market.
“It’s what’s hot, what’s happening, what’s going to blow up next. People not used to sticking their feet in hot water are not going to get used to it when it’s boiling,” he said of people afraid to bring their businesses Downtown.
He also sees the potential of the types of businesses in the area that offer services for employees in the area.
“If people would get out of the cubicle, they would realize there is more they can do at lunchtime than eat,” Gonzalez said. “They can get things done then so they don’t have to do them at night like getting their suit altered, their jewelry repaired, or their shoes fixed.”
The jewelry store services include custom ordering and jewelry repairs including watch repair,.
he also offers diamond classes, 15-minute seminars featuring lessons on color, cut and clarity of diamonds, jewelry appraisal, and stone replacement. The classes are free and can be scheduled any day after 3 p.m.
Custom design is also a big part of the store.
“We like to carry some things you don’t see, and we do a lot of our own castings and inside design,” Gonzalez said.
Surprisingly, Gonzalez welcomes competition. With seven other jewelry stores downtown and Jacob’s right around the corner, he claims they are all friends and there is no competition.
“There are not enough jewelers downtown,” Gonzalez said. “There are jewelry districts in big cities like New York and Chicago stretch for three blocks, and Jacksonville needs one. There should be more of us so we can have more competition for a change.”
One thing he credits for the store’s success is the other businesses nearby and Downtown Vision Inc.. which developed the Farmer’s Market and moved it to Hemming Plaza.
He used to have a booth at the Farmer’s Market for advertising and will return there in the future.
The shop is also part of Art Walk.
“I like to do things downtown,” Gonzalez said. “The more venues the more people are exposed to downtown.”
The store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is located at 223 North Hogan St.
“It’s easy to find us. We’re the only business in Downtown with our door open because it’s a great way of advertising,” Gonzalez said. “People ask me if I’m scared of getting robbed. Well, I haven’t been robbed yet, plus there is a police station right next door,” he said as he knocked on wood.