Often in the morning we see a fixture of downtown Fergus head for his morning coffee. Minutes later, the family-run store will open and regardless of day or time, there’s someone almost always looking for something special.
They will have come to the right place – the same place generations of people from West Garafraxa, Nichol, Pilkington, Eramosa, Fergus and Elora frequented for their jewelry and gift needs. If you’re thinking of Wilkin, you would be spot on.
This past weekend, Ron and Inez Wilkin celebrated 40 years in business with a come and go reception. Like many family operated businesses in-town, Wilkin has passed on to the next generation. We are sure Graham and his wife Amy will carry on the great service and quality of product that people here have grown to appreciate.
With 40 years of business, there are surely stories enough to fill a book. But, as is their quiet way, the secrets of a small town will stay locked away, like the crown jewels, honouring the trust they share with so many people.
As the town’s jeweler for decades, the Wilkin family would know of many big events first.
Engagements and anniversary rings might be the best example. It’s pretty neat to think of the many times a smitten young couple might look at rings, and either Ron or Inez would make mental notes to help out the potential groom.
And all of that happened without the pressures one would expect in a larger centre.
More than one guy in those 40 years was helped out with a layaway plan and installments. Instead of reams of paperwork and legalities, such things were often a matter of handshake, so to speak. Times of course were a little different since people knew each other a little better and let’s not forget, credit cards are a fairly recent retail phenomenon. Credit was an earned commodity years ago. Many times that hand up in the lean times meant years of loyalty, from kid’s communions to anniversary gifts, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day presents and so on.
It is perhaps the level of service that speaks to such a lengthy career and on-going success for the next generation.
Often people will drop in for a battery for their watch, or cleaning of a diamond or to double-check a setting to ensure the diamond or jewel is safely latched in its claws.
How rare it is to spend a few dollars and get the same service and a smile as if a larger purchase was made. But that is how customer loyalty is built and the Wilkin brand was forged.
It is those simple forms of service that big retailers miss as they search out profit margins rather than customers. Over the years, employees at with the Wilkin family have served with the same customer-centric attitude keeping people happy and coming back.
Cheers to Ron and Inez. We wish you a very, deserved and healthy retirement.