By David Rogers. July 19, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Whatever the question, Charlie Travis’ answer is “Yes.” If he can’t do it, he’ll find someone who can. If he can’t find anyone, he’ll help you explore alternatives. And his jewelry will help that loved one say “yes”, too.
COVER IMAGE: Joy and Charlie Travis are all smiles about the opening of their second Village Jewelers location, in Blowing Rock. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News
That “can do” mantra has served him and wife Joy very well in a long career as purveyors of custom-made, antique, and high quality jewelry of every description, from diamond rings to gold engraved watches and everything in between.
For 37 years they operated under the name, “Old World Galleries,” first starting in Blowing Rock, on Main Street, before moving to King Street in Boone. A couple of years ago, the Travis’ rebranded themselves as “Village Jewelers.” And with a stroke of great luck and very polished insight, Village Jewelers cut the ceremonial ribbon on Wednesday in a new location: the Food Lion Shopping Center in Blowing Rock.
The decision to open a Blowing Rock jewelry store smack dab between a wealth management firm (Edward Jones) and a high-end art gallery (Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery) was hardly accidental. Once a Domino’s Pizza location, after extensive renovation there is no hint of the franchised purveyor of pepperoni and provolone anywhere in the store, just well appointed counters and displays filled with sparkling fantasies for every imagination.
During the renovation, we uncovered some marinara sauce!
“During the renovation,” laughed Travis, “we uncovered some marinara sauce, and there were a lot of interesting aspects to the remodel because we were adapting from what was formerly a restaurant. There were things that were unique to a restaurant, such as the 220-volt electrical outlets. We didn’t need those.”
In speaking with Blowing Rock News on Wednesday morning after all of the ribbon cutting celebrants had left, it was clear that Travis had benefited from business insights gained when he went back to school (Appalachian State University) to get an Masters in Business Administration (MBA) a few years ago.
“Tim Miller of Blowing Rock Frameworks first approached me with the idea,” Travis recalled. “This was really an obvious decision. Not only are we flanked by two other businesses that also cater to the demographic best representing our target customer, but there is parking here for easy access to our stores.”
Although Travis uses social media to help market his line of jewelry and has an online presence, he admitted to Blowing Rock News that the most important factor to explain his business’ success is relationships. “People know us. People trust us. Whether it is a really expensive piece of jewelry or one that doesn’t cost so much, our customers know that what we sell or make for them is going to be very high quality.
People know us. People trust us.
“We have developed so many friendships over the years with people in this area,” Travis noted. “This space makes it easier for those people, whether they are coming to look at jewelry or just coming to see us. It is convenient to get here. There is ample parking. And we are between two great shop owners in Edward Jones’ Billy Chick and Tim Miller of Blowing Rock Frameworks.”
Travis was raised in Blowing Rock, after his family moved to town when he was 12, so he has a lot of insight in the area’s evolution over the years.
“There is no way to compare the economic environment,” he observed, “because when we first got here you had three months to make it. And you had to put away enough nuts and berries to make it through the winter. The (Blue Ridge) Parkway has always been a great benefit to Blowing Rock. A lot of the motels in town were built in the 40s and 50s, and I think the Parkway explains why the town developed the way that it did. People wanted to escape the heat and they could drive up and down the Parkway.
“Actually, a single event that, in my opinion, changed the economy of Blowing Rock and extended the season was the completion of the Shoppes on the Parkway. The original owner was someone different than the current owner, Tanger Outlets. But the reason it changed the business complexion is because it gave people a reason to come to Blowing Rock in what is otherwise the off-season. Until then, most of the stores all over Blowing Rock were seasonal. Ours (Old World Galleries) was open all year, but there were five months where we really didn’t do any business. We were only open all year because we couldn’t afford to go anywhere else.
Through our online presence and the ETSY platform, we now have a nationwide customer base. But we treasure our local customers and the relationships they represent.
“The weather has changed a little,” he added, “but winter’s have always been variable. I love to watch the weather and pay attention to the statistics on the weather. A couple of days ago it was reported that the record high temperature for that day was in 1986. That was the very day that I went out and bought an air conditioner for our shop that was next to Sonny’s Grill (on Main Street), because it was SO hot! We had a huge fan in the back that pulled air through, but it was pulling hot air through the store. Winter’s are similar. Many times I will take notice of record highs and lows and remember that day in history.
“I am not an expert on climate change,” he continued. “The winters recently have been a little milder, but the winters of 2008, 2009 and 2010 would be a good argument against that. Those were REAL winters.”
To some extent, weather is becoming less of a factor for Village Jewelers, not just because of the easy access of the location, but because they now have a nationwide customer base.
“We have an online presence and an online store on our website,” Travis explained. “Then we also have a presence on ETSY, which is a global commerce platform for creative entrepreneurs. It was founded in 2005 and has 45 million items for sale from 1.8 million active sellers to 29.7 million active buyers. Through this platform, people are buying and selling from nearly every country in the world. It fills a need for an online community where crafters, artists, and artisans can sell their handmade and vintage goods and craft supplies, and that includes jewelry.”
Travis concluded the interview by admitting that he is just a part of a terrific team that he and wife Joy have assembled.
“Morgan Shaw is among the finest master goldsmiths, bench jewelers, and designers anywhere in the country,” Travis said. “Then there is Jennie Trivette who has been in the jewelry business for 20 years. She handles everything from sales, battery replacements, appraisals, repairs and more. She really knows her way around the jewelry business. Katelyn Carson is a terrific sales associate and a native of Boone. Megan Sheppard is our marketing director. Not only does she design jewelry, but she is also a very good photographer.
“Very few things of any great significance are accomplished by a single person,” Travis stated, unequivocally, “Most are done as a team and we are blessed with an outstanding group of professionals.”