Business Profile

Kings Jewelry – All In the Family

The Old Town Crier is in our 35th year of business in Alexandria. I have seen a lot of changes over those years but the one thing that has remained constant is King’s Jewelry on King Street which is celebrating their 67th year in business. With two years of covid disrupting all businesses, Norman “Brad” Bradford has remained solid in providing excellent service to clients. Brad is an original to Alexandria by growing up and attending school here. A young Brad held down a job after school at the old Cannon Shoe Store on King Street. It was in the course of selling shoes and working with people that he discovered not only what he enjoyed, but also that he was a natural born salesman. Recognizing Bradford’s unique talents, Moritz Bier, then owner of King’s Jewelry, made an offer of ten dollars more a week to the 19-year-old in June of 1962 and Brad made the move.

His initial training was “on the job”. Bier took Bradford under his wing and taught him – hands on – about the jewelry business. “I was always doing it under his guidance,” Bradford said. “He was kind of grooming me to take over someday.” As time passed, Bradford took on more of the everyday operations and in 1978, when Bier and his family wanted to retire, they sold the business to Bradford. That early-on family environment is the cornerstone to the family run King’s Jewelry of today.

Ten years after Bradford started at King’s his sister Helen joined him at the store working for Bier. After he bought the business, his daughter Tari joined the growing business in 1983. “Wow, how time flies,” Tari tells me; I have been working at King’s Jewelry for more than 39 years. Working with family and co-workers who are like family has been rewarding. Over the years Dad has taught us so much.” In 1986 Bradford’s wife Cathy came to work at King’s bringing with her an accounting background and quickly took over the dealings with insurance, advertising, office work and the books. Today it is clear that both the working relationship and the romantic relationship have blossomed and endured.

To ensure that this family business stayed together at the same location, Bradford bought the building at 609 King Street in 1985. “Although the building was not for sale, I offered double the market value to encourage the owners to sell. It has turned into a great long term investment,” he tells me. To round out this family affair, son Andrew graduated from George Mason University and joined King’s ten years ago and has completed the Graduate Diamonds Program at the Gemological Institute of America and the Colored Stones Program. Son Gregory joined the team in 2016 with a social media background and now learns from dad. Just like when spring arrives this month, this too is now a rite of passage as Bradford becomes the teacher and his sons the students. It is clear that both Brad and Cathy are delighted to be working alongside Andrew, Gregory and Tari.

Thus comes the winds of change. With the involvement of the younger side of the family, Brad is looking to take a step back and enjoy retirement. It appears that this will be gradual but it definitely is a goal in the near future. Cathy is looking to a more gradual withdrawal from the front lines. With the ability and talent of the new generation, this appears to be a very reasonable plan.

The friendly staff at the store is another of their great assets. Stephen, Ken, Micky and Michael have been serving customers for many years. At King’s Jewelry there is no sales pressure because their employees do not work on commission. You will encounter the same level of customer service whether you are replacing a watch battery or purchasing a diamond ring.

Another great asset of King’s Jewelry is their design team. Marcos Smyth is the resident goldsmith and works with his assistant Susan. Catherine is an expert jeweler and custom designer. Marcos is trained both as a jewelry designer and sculptor and has the experience and expertise to turn your creative vision into a reality. I am fortunate to have known Marcos for over 45 years. He was one of the early artists at the Torpedo Factory Art Center before it was remodeled. He had unbelievable talent then as a metal sculpture artist.

Over the years King’s Jewelry has established a practice that their customers come first, and this philosophy has paid huge dividends. They have the same customers come back time and time again whenever they need a special gift or in my case a new watch band.

King’s offers a wide variety of jewelry and watches in every price range for every budget. Beauty, quality, value and integrity are the cornerstones of the King’s philosophy. When Bradford is buying for the store, he looks first at the beauty and quality of the piece, then the value (price), and the integrity (will it hold up over the years). In today’s climate of so much online shopping, when it comes to jewelry, being in the store working with a sales consultant is the better bet. You can feel the weight and see the beauty.

The hallmark of any successful business is gauged by repeat business. King’s Jewelry has customers who bought their wedding rings there and then came back 50 years later for a golden anniversary gift, and everything in between. I personally know of people here in Alexandria and some who have moved out of the area who swear by King’s Jewelry. Actually, they just refer to it as “going to Brad’s to pick up a necklace.

With the pending retirement of Bradford, I guess the future may be “I am going to Tari’s or Andrew’s or Gregory’s”. Whatever the case, I am sure the success will be as great as it has been over the last 67 years. I give my personal congratulations to Brad and Cathy for a job very well done and smooth sailing as they head toward retirement.

Kings Jewelry

609 King Street

Old Town Alexandria


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