Independent Credit Jewellers
Independent Jewellers has been changing and evolving over the decades. From the early '40s all through the '80s the company was a mish-mash of different giftware items, furniture, TV's, appliances, jewellery, watches, clocks, and grandfather clocks. Our original name was actually "Independent Credit Jewellers" as my grandfather was one of the first people to offer a line of credit to customers. The "credit" part got dropped in the '80s when default became more common. Indeed we even used to have a camera department, which was eventually taken over by the manager at the time and turned into Photo Central which is still operating today by his son! As time went on and the world changed the appliances and furniture departments were taken over by the big box stores - we couldn't compete. A lot of the product we carried became out of fashion. Royal Doulton figurines lost their charm and collectibility, and decorative plates that sit on wall shelves have no appeal anymore. Out of all the categories of retail goods that we have carried over the past 80 years, jewellery and watches are the two that we have grown into and ultimately has become part of the DNA that is now IJL.
Brands Come And Go
The brands we used to carry over the years? Swarovski, Pandora, Guess, Fossil, Seiko, Wittnauer, Swatch Watch, Frederique Constant, Breitling, Roots, Hearts On Fire, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger - the list goes on. And these are just the ones I can remember in my short time here with the company! There was a day we used to carry a brand that went by the name International Watch Company, now known today as IWC Schaffhausen, a brand that we are proudly bringing back to Winnipeg this November. There are brands we have carried multiple times in our history, coming and going as the styles change and as new management or companies take them over.
Earlier this year we rebranded ourselves, going from Independent Jewellers Ltd. to the acronym IJL. This included not only a new logo but new corporate colours and a new direction, one that will place us as Winnipeg's only luxury jewellery store. As awareness of luxury brands like Rolex, OMEGA, Forevermark, and Mikimoto increase over time, so does people's association with luxury and IJL. We are so proud, and blessed, to be able to carry these brands as they become more exclusive every year - most of these luxury brands are not opening new locations, rather, they are extremely picky as to where they will go and who will be carrying them. And if you don't play by their rules, well you can risk losing them.
The importance of branding is becoming more evident. Back in the '80s, when we had a whole building full of trinkets, branding was not nearly as important then as it is today. Rolex? They might be been known as an expensive watch back then but they most certainly were not known as the powerhouse all-star brand they are today. In fact, Winnipeg had as many as 8 Rolex dealers - now we are the only ones.
What Are We Missing?
My business partner (and brother) are always looking for new brands in either jewellery or watches. Over the last few years we have been concentrating more on watches, and that can likely be seen in our advertising as well. However, as much as we are out in the world, we would love to hear from you. What brand are we missing? What brand would you like to see in Winnipeg? Do you have a favourite brand that you can't access here in Winnipeg? We are always curious as to what our clients are wearing, what they are talking about, and what jewellery or watch brand they desire most. Tell us your thoughts and who knows, you may just see that brand show up at IJL one day.
How Do You "Get" A Brand?
Getting a luxury brand is much like dating. You don't just pop the question on the first date as you are sure to get a resounding "no". The brand often has no idea who we are or what our intentions are - are we looking for a short-term or long-term relationship? Phone calls are awkward and emails are easily dismissed. And Winnipeg? As much as I love this city, we are not a metropolis. Many of the really big name luxury brands have no idea where Winnipeg is or why they should care about it. Ironically, the most recognized luxury watch brand in the world - Rolex - cares about Winnipeg, and this goes a long way in providing validity to our case. Getting a luxury watch brand begins with phone calls, finding out who the contact is, and being persistent. My brother spent about 2 years talking with IWC Schaffhausen before we finally came to an agreement to be their next retailer in Canada - we will be their 8th door in this country!
Branding is one of the most important aspects of our business. We used to carry an in-house watch brand called Tuxedo Swiss. And it was/is a great watch. Unfortunately, because nobody had heard of this brand and because we don't have millions of dollars to put into marketing it, the brand eventually failed. Going into 2018 we are looking forward to our new building and the brands we will have in it. We will truly become one of the finest jewellery stores in central Canada carrying some of the world's most recognizable luxury jewellery brands.
Let us know your thoughts! What luxury brand do you want to see in Winnipeg?