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Stars Align for Thom Duma Jewelers to Expand

WARREN, Ohio – It may come as a surprise to learn that Thom Duma Fine Jewelers, one of the anchors of downtown Warren, nearly had to pick up and relocate a few short years ago.

Thankfully, “all the stars aligned,” and the jeweler was able to stay in the space it’s occupied since 2002, says owner Tom Duma.

“I’ll be the anchor in downtown, I’m staying,” he affirms.

Thom Duma has been the only dealer of Rolex brand watches in the Mahoning Valley since he took over and rebranded the former Klivan’s Jewelry, which was owned by his father. 

Then, in 2014, word came that Rolex wanted all their dealers to have a similar environment in order to provide customers with a consistent experience across all stores.

“That means having Rolex floors, Rolex walls and Rolex ceiling,” Duma explains.

The demand was particularly challenging for Duma, whose 20-foot by 100-foot shop didn’t have any separate space apart from the showroom floor. 

Duma tried several times to incorporate the Rolex themes into the existing space but was unable to find a suitable solution.

“We weren’t crazy about it and neither was Rolex, so at that point we started looking for other property,” Duma says. “We were going to relocate.”

Then one day, general manager Lynn Capezio became curious about the adjacent space.

“I wonder what’s on the other side of this wall?” she recalls asking Duma.

As luck would have it, it was exactly what they were seeking: a 500-square-foot space that could be accessed from the showroom but could also exist as a separate space.

“What are the odds that there’s going to be the spot that we need right were we need it?” Duma says.

After renegotiating the lease with the building owner, work got underway on the showroom, which now houses all of the store’s Rolex products.

Thom Duma

“I think customers will enjoy being in there and it kind of raises the level of store experience for them,” Capezio says.

With a $500,000 investment, Duma was able to build the showroom, update the existing space and add a new repair shop in the downstairs.

To capitalize on the investment, Duma says he’s looking to add at least three employees to his staff of 12, including an apprentice metal worker.

Thom Duma’s will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony tonight for the addition, followed by an invitation-only reception.

Tomorrow the public is invited to a catered event at the store from 6 to 8 p.m., where they can enjoy food and drink from downtown businesses, including Modern Methods Brewery, the Mocha House and Sunrise Inn.

Duma says while it almost meant relocating his store, he thinks Rolex’s approach was correct.

“What’s going to make someone come to a brick and mortar store? To me, it’s all about experience,” he says.

“I think that’s the future of brick and mortar.”

Indeed, Duma says that landing Rolex early on was the key to his entire business model, which is based around offering exclusive brands, such as Tacori and David Yurman, that shoppers would otherwise have to travel to Cleveland or Pittsburgh to purchase.

He likens it to what happens when Starbucks opens a new location.

“When Starbucks researches a community and decides to put their store there, then you’ll see a Chipotle and all the supporting brands around it because they know that Starbucks did their homework,” he says.

Another benefit of carrying Rolex, Duma says, is that you can only purchase their products from a certified dealer, although he says the secondary market for Rolex is “almost stronger than the primary market.”

As an example, he relates the story of the Rolex he purchased for his father as a retirement gift.

“It was $9,000 brand-new in 1986,” he says.

Today, the same model watch is worth $34,000 new and about $10,000 used.

“There’s no product on the earth that you can wear for 30 years and sell for more than what you paid for it. It’s crazy,” he says.

Starting prices for Rolex begin at $4,800 for women’s watches and $5,400 for men’s models.

People purchasing Rolex watches at Thom Duma’s are evenly split between men and women, but Capezio says, the generalizations end there.

“There isn’t a particular type of person,” she says. “Young kids come in here and want to have one and older people come in. It’s a line that everyone wants to have.”

Pictured: Thom Duma Fine Jewelers owner Tom Duma will host an opening event for his expansion Thursday.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.