It seems like 2 or 3 times a week someone asks for Joshua here at our store.
When you call for “Joshua” you really only have two options; my four-year-old nephew or my deceased brother. Neither of which could really help you with your jewelry needs. Either choice would definitely be a great conversation, nonetheless.
For almost a month now, I have been passing the idea back and forth whether or not to write about my brother. It never fails, if I tell this story to a customer, I immediately get a wince and an apology. Usually because they have just asked why the store is named as it is. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about my brother. He was my first best friend. But as someone who is in a retail business, you never want a customer’s experience to be negative or awkward. Talking about death can definitely be that in a business setting.
What is extraordinary is that many times when we tell the story of Joshua here at our store, it does resonate with people. It begins a connection with some of our customers that wouldn’t happen if we just were concerned with making a sale or fixing a ring. It is in that spirit that I have decided to tell Joshua’s story. To connect with you. To let you see that this isn’t just a business, but a family.
Joshua Trent George
was born on April 2, 1979.
Almost an April Fool’s baby. My mom started going into labor on the 1st and when they told my dad, he didn’t believe them. They finally convinced him that it was serious and off to the hospital they went. Joshua was born with a disease that affected his brain and muscles. Much like Cerebral Palsy. His lungs were very underdeveloped and his bones were extremely weak.
Yet, every single day, he found reason to smile.
I came along two years later.
My earliest memory of Joshua is his laugh.
I like to think that he had joy in watching me move around as I learned to crawl and use my hands in ways that he couldn’t. My parents have told me that as I got older and learned to talk that they would catch us having “secret” conversations in our shared crib.
As time went on, our differences in physicality became greater. I began to walk and talk. I had full use of my appendages and was able to control them. My muscles were strong and my bones were healthy. I was a normal kid, but that didn’t change my love for my brother or the way that I viewed him.
In the winter of 1989, Joshua contracted pneumonia. For someone with underdeveloped lungs, this was an extreme battle. There is only so much antibiotics can do, and at some point the strength of your own body is a factor in healing itself and overcoming even a more common disease like pneumonia. Joshua was a fighter. He would get better, leave a hospital, and for a month or so be just fine. Then it would attack again, and back to the hospital we would go.
During this time, my dad (Chris, the owner of Joshua’s) was working in another jewelry business. He was making his own jewelry, staying late for repairs, and making many of the sales. There was a constant battle between home and work life. Especially with three young children and one of them being sick.
In February of 1990, after over a year of dealing with pneumonia, hospital stays, tubes down his throat, needles, and many sleepless nights,
Joshua finally went home.
In some ways, maybe you can imagine what it would be like to lose a child to an illness, or for a member of your immediate family to pass away, but in many, many ways, there is no real way to describe it that compares.
A few years later, with his heart no longer in it and some disagreements with his partners, my dad left the jewelry business and never wanted to go back to it. Honestly, my dad would love to be a farmer. For a while that is what he tried to do. Mostly, there was still a lot of grief and frustration with life that our family was dealing with from the loss of Joshua. That’s when Bob showed up.
Bob was a long time family/business friend and also a jewelry salesman with his own line of jewelry. One day he showed up at my parent’s house. Unannounced. If you don’t know how to get to my parent’s house, it isn’t the easiest place to find. It is just off the highway but hidden behind many trees. And there isn’t a normal driveway. This was 1993. No MapQuest or Google Maps. No Garmin or Siri to tell you where to turn.
In the midst of our family trauma, Bob came to help. He brought a suitcase filled with a ton of jewelry. He said to my dad that he needed to get up and begin the process of opening his own store. That he was too good of a salesman to just give up. He left that suitcase for my dad to have merchandise for his business.
A few days later, Reuben called. Reuben is my dad’s “jewelry father.” He is a Jewish diamond dealer from New York. His reason for calling? To encourage my dad to open a new store. My dad asked him what he thought the name of the store should be. “Name it after your son. What a great memorial for him,” Reuben said. In February of 1994, Joshua’s Fine Jewelry opened its doors to the public and we have been in business ever since.
If not for these caring people, we may never have gotten our start in business.
Kindness. Compassion. Trustworthiness.
These are principles we use in our lives, and in our business. Joshua still lives on. Not only in his nephew, but in our store every day. Joshua’s Fine Jewelry isn’t just a business. It is a family.
We want you to be a part of it.
Have you ever seen those commercials? You know the one where the girl gets the engagement ring and she says "He went to !" Those commercials bother me. Not because I feel that the store those commercials represent isn't a good store. I am sure it is a very good store. I have no problem with them. What bothers me about the commercial is that it places less weight on the jewelry that was given and on the relationship between the two people.
Now, I truly understand the goal of marketing and advertising is to make sure people know who you are talking about in a commercial. So in a sense, I understand that specific commercial pointing to the name of the store. How many of you reading this filled in the blank in your mind? Obviously, the commercial is doing its job well. But what about the importance of the specific piece of jewelry? Was it what she wanted? Did said jewelry store take the time to learn enough about her as a person and what she liked to be able to say to the boyfriend, "This is the one for HER."
The question I ask myself every time I see those commercials is, "What if she had said 'No'"? Can you imagine THAT commercial. The guy walks up to the girl and the leaves are falling in the perfect autumn sunshine and he gets down on one knee, grabs her hand and pulls out this ring, places it on her finger and looks up and asks those 4 words..."Will you marry me?" And she says, "no." What does he do then? "But honey, I went to !" In my mind, I hear her saying, "It doesn't matter where you went."
What does matter is that she says "Yes!" Emphatically. Unquestionably. Decisively. Absolutely. YES. It matters that the purchase he made was thoughtful to her style and liking. It matters that he took the time to check out her Pinterest boards and ask her mom and friends to find out if they have heard anything about what she likes. It matters that he listens to her when she points at something in a magazine, online, or in a random store. Her saying yes is less about what store he shopped at and more about the time and effort he has put in to loving her.
These things matter to me as well. When I am helping a customer pick out the perfect ring, I am not just trying to make a sale. I will make every effort to understand what a significant other may want when it pertains to style, and do my very best to make it at an affordable price. We want her to say "Yes" to you. We want you to say "Yes" to Joshua's.