August 6, 2019
Spotlight: Vicky Atikian of Marquess Jewellers
Just like the neighbourhood at Yonge + St. Clair, family businesses like Marquess Jewellers are constantly evolving, striving to keep memories alive and spark new traditions. We spoke with Vicky Atikian the owner at Marquess Jewellers about her recent storefront transformation.
This article was provided by Marylene Vestergom, a marketer and freelance writer whose curious mindset allows her to implement strategies and bring them to life.
Yonge + St. Clair: When did you start?
Vicky Atikian: It’s a family business, so in many ways, I was born into this business. My parents opened the store in 1982, so we’ve been around for 37 years, and just like the transformation of the Y+S area, we’ve also evolved. We were first located in the upper level of the Y+S Centre, and then in 1998 we changed location to the other side of the Centre. Then we underwent a huge transformation and re-opened last May on the lower level. We were nervous at first, but our customers have not let us down. We are very much an anchor to the neighbourhood, a place many consider familiar – a part of their extended family where their memories and keepsakes are treasured and new traditions made.
Y+S: In retail, longevity is hard to achieve. What’s the secret?
VA: We are a family of jewellers. My father, who started his career at 18 when he was a teenager in Jerusalem doing repairs and then when he came to Canada, he worked with other jewellery companies, later opened up Marquess Jewellers. My mother worked by his side, and they were the ones who laid the foundation. Now I own the store with my husband Arthur, whose own family’s roots has many branches linked to this trade. My sister and I are both gemologists, so the knowledge is deep, and my parents are still involved, so there is always someone to go to get advice etc. So, you can say, we like keeping it in the family.
Y+S: There has been a noticeable transformation to the look and feel of your store, was that a conscious decision?
VA: We wanted to create a boutique feel, but we also knew any changes we made had to reflect the needs of our customers. It had to be approachable and welcoming, so the space is bright and light. We also didn’t want customers to feel intimidated, we wanted them to be able to browse, so we added drawers so they could open them up and peek inside. It’s almost like having their own jewellery box at their fingertips, discovering new treasures and artisans.
Y+S: What makes this neighborhood special?
VA: This is a close-knit community, and it’s one of the oldest suburbs, with a very rich history. We’ve been lucky to have been part of it, and our success comes from word of mouth from other stores in the area and our customers. Some have lived here for generations, so you’re always guaranteed to run into someone you know. In many ways, it’s a bit of a meeting place.
What can customers expect?
VA: Our reputation is built on our service, and it’s central to our success. We take a personal interest in the items our customers entrust in our care. There is a huge emotional attachment — a sentimentality and lineage that has to be respected — and it’s something we never take for granted. That’s why we take the time to explain the repair process. When it comes to mark a special occasion, we know it can be an emotional purchase, and it’s important they love what they buy. We are also a full-service destination offering onsite repairs, from batteries and watchbands to stone replacements and ring resizing – no request is too small. We also love working on special design projects to mark a special moment in time.
Y+S: You mentioned working on special projects. Can you share an experience?
VA: Recently I had a special request from a gentleman who was quite ill and wanted to give his wife one more piece. Together we worked on something that was very representative of their loving family. It was a tree of life pendant, and each branch represented their four children and the leaves, their respective grandchildren. I certainly won’t forget that piece nor that family. It was an honour to be a part of that gift.
Y+S: Has jewellery always been your passion?
VA: I can’t imagine doing anything else. The best part is you never stop learning, especially when your extended family shares in the same passion, there is always something new to learn.
Y+S: Now that you have a new look and the neighborhood and Y+S continues to transform, what can your customers expect?
VA: I love creating events and introducing our customers to new things. I did a trunk show last November of Roman coins and hand-carved Venetian glass in silver and gold featuring Italian jewellery designer Tagliamonte. In September, we are hosting our own mini-Antique Roadshow, an appraisal clinic where customers can book their own scheduled appointment with an associate from renowned gemologist from Harold Weinstein Ltd. She will provide an appraisal onsite and then a report will be sent to us in a few weeks’ time for the customer. This way the customer can still leave our store with their treasure in-hand with the knowledge their piece will be appraised, including documentation for safekeeping. It’s a lot of fun and the event books quickly, so we will ensure it’s part of our calendar of events.
Y+S: Are you living your dream?
VA: Yes. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and every day is different. The best part is our extended family — the generation of customers we have known over the 37 years and counting!