This story was originally published in the February/March 2015 issue of Chattanooga Magazine.
It may be safe to say that family businesses, especially those that span four generations and over 75 years, are diminishing—yet Chattanooga is fortunate to have a number of these.
Joining a growing number of mature and thriving businesses in Chattanooga’s City Center Business District, Brody Jewelers has expanded to this convenient, central location. The new store on Cherry Street, in a block formerly owned by the Krystal Company, opened in January. Michael, Cindy and Louis Brody grew up working with their parents’ in the original store in Rossville, Georgia, a changing southern town that had almost become an industrial suburb of Chattanooga.
As jewelers, they quietly work with people to help them solidify their dreams—an engagement, a gold-watch occasion, a glittering birthday—dreams that require symbols of commitment, hope, love, and lifetime achievement.
“I like interacting with people,” says Louis of his customers. “It’s interesting, it’s usually about celebrating.” Pre-Valentine’s Day store customers were on hand to validate that sentiment. One 82-year-old man proudly shows off a gold watch from Brody’s that was given to him by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) as a gift upon his retirement. A recently married couple had shopped at the Brody’s store for a vintage engagement ring.
Louis Brody’s level of excitement increases as he begins to talk about various styles of jewelry. The stores carry popular new styles, but the Rossville store is known for having one of the largest and finest collections of estate jewelry in the region. Most of this vintage collection comes from executors who need valuations and want to sell. They find Brody Jewelry most often by reputation and word-of-mouth endorsements.
The downtown store is located at a storefront that was once the Edwards Jewelry Store, owned by Ed and Darlene Crompton who opened the store in 1987.
Developer, Matt McGauley believes the addition of high profile retail business to the City Center will further enliven the block.
“We are thrilled to have Brody Jewelers making a commitment in the City Center and more particularly, our newest redevelopment project at 701 Cherry Street. The Brody family is demonstrating tremendous foresight by investing early within the newly established Innovation District,” says Matt McGauley, Cherry Street developer and co-owner.
“This will be really convenient for our customers,” says Michael. “And, the time was right for expansion.” He expects to enlarge the store to twice its current size later in the year. The 703 Cherry Street shop will become a full-service jewelry store meaning it will buy and sell pre-owned Rolex and Cartier watches, provide jewelry repair, buy gold and expand its collection of fine, estate jewelry.
While many executors bring in jewelry, the Brody’s sometimes attend exceptional regional sales events. The largest estate sale they have recently surveyed was in Boca Raton, Florida. “Our customers often want a vintage look,” adds Michael. “That sale was one of the best.”
They often return from estate sales with rare coins, sterling silver tea sets and exotic antique jewelry with unusual gemstones. All three are certified gemologists. Cindy, whose married name is Sirota was the first women in the state of Tennessee to be certified as a gemologist by the Gemological Institute of America. GIA is a nonprofit institute dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology and the jewelry arts. Founded in 1931, GIA’s mission is to protect all buyers and sellers of gemstones by setting and maintaining the standards used to evaluate gemstone quality. All three Brody’s are reliable certified gemologists and the company has received accolades throughout the area, noted as a Best of the Best Jeweler and recognized by Service Select and the Better Business Bureau as an outstanding small business with under 10 employees.
“We only buy from representatives we know or those who are referred by people we know,” says Louis. The company’s honesty, integrity and quality of service keep customers coming back, say the Brodys.
They are looking forward to developing new relationships in the City Center where new customers will take advantage of their services. Cindy, whose son Brent represents a fourth generation working in the business, says, “New customers will experience quality workmanship at a better price.”
Visit brodyjewelry.com for more information.
Photography by Brian Chan and Courtesy of Brody Jewelry