SI City Lifestyle: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got involved in the family business.
Gerald’ s Background: I went to St. Joseph By the Sea High School & Mount Saint Vincent College in Riverdale, New York where I went for Business Management and Accounting, After college I worked with the gentlemen I interned with at American Mortgage Consultants and was doing accounting with them and had no intention of going into my Father’s family business because I felt I wanted to go out and make a name for myself. When the job at American Mortgage Consultants ended, my boss was leaving and going to another company but before I could go work for him there, there was a 6 month layover and during that period I started to work for my father and saw the business through different eyes than when I was in high school working for him full time. We went through Christmas time and so on and I saw the potential on how we could grow the family business and the foundation was already built here and I saw how we could really tenfold the business, which we take really seriously because my father started this business from nothing. Ever since that point I never left and the business is a big part of my life now and I am very happy with my decision.
Peter’s Background: I went to St. Joseph by the Sea High school as well and went to college At Fairleigh Dickenson in Madison, New Jersey. In college I majored in business management with a concentration in entrepreneurship and once I left college I did not want to work for my father but he was looking to open another jewelry store under a different name in Tom’s River, New Jersey and he asked me if I would be interested in running that store. I wound up taking that opportunity in 2013 and when we opened Pandora up in 2013 – I was able to run my own business and be far enough away from family where I felt it was 100% mine, which was a really unique experience for me. I eventually came back to Staten Island to work for my father and I have been here ever since.
SI City Lifestyle: How would you describe Gerald Peters in your own words?
Peter: Gerald Peter’s is a luxury jewelry store but still gives the same family feel that you would receive in a Mom & Pop jewelry store. What we did here was create a luxury high end jewelry store with create quality jewelry, including our own Gerald Peter’s brand and well-known brands but we still always give that family vibe and that feeling when any customer comes into the store.
Gerald: Gerald Peters is a unique business model; there are not many jewelers around the tri-state area that you can count on one hand who have the same business plan as us. Now we talk about luxury and quality and that applies for all price points because you can have a quality item from $200-$500 dollars. What we were able to do is help our clients purchase quality jewelry for any occasion – we do not just focus on one product, we focus on multiple. We are able to provide you with your baby’s first gift, Mother’s Day gifts, Valentine’s Day presents, engagement rings and wedding bands and then we have watches that retail from $300 dollars all the way up to Rolex which could retail for tens of thousands of dollars.
SI City Lifestyle: What are your roles in the business and what is it like working with your family?
Peter: In terms of roles, Gerald would be responsible mostly for sales and I am responsible more for operations. When you work in a small business you wear multiple hats that can often overlap so there are plenty of things Gerald does operationally and there’s plenty of things I do on the sales floor as well. We all have different strengths and we try to work with those strengths on who’s good at what and every day we are learning new things and coming up with different responsibilities.
Gerald: From my experience most family businesses have issues with figuring out who is responsible for what and I think we do a great job here, even with the things we overlap with, I have no problem asking Peter for his help when I need it. Every year we also always visit our 1,3 and 5 year plan so we always have the same vision, goals and we carry that down to our staff. We all know the end goal, we can have different ways of getting there but as long as we get there and everyone has the same intentions, it helps all of us.
SI City Lifestyle: When we sat down for our first interview you mentioned the four core values for Gerald Peter’s. Do you want to elaborate on those?
Peter: Our 4 Core Values are 1. Reputation Over Profit, 2. The Gerald Peters Experience, 3. Honesty and Integrity and 4. Teamwork. It’s never about the dollar amount. When it comes to buying jewelry, it can be an intimidating process. For us it is about the experience that the customer has from the moment they enter our boutique. These 4 core values keep all of our staff in line with the same vision for what we want our customers’ experience to look like.
Staten Island City Lifestyle: What category of jewelry would you say is most special?
Peter: Probably engagement rings, majority of engagement rings we sell are custom made to fit both what the consumer wants and their budget – we offer a true one on one experience to determine what the customer likes and what the customer is looking for. Most of the time the person buying the engagement ring isn’t the person who is going to be wearing the ring, so we do a lot of research to determine what they would want. The second part is we try to get them in a budget that is comfortable for them, so we work with any budget and any request that people have; the biggest thing we value is that they leave happy and receive the results they expect.
Gerald: I feel especially bridal can be the most intimidating purchase; most of the time it is the customer’s first time purchasing such a large investment piece in terms of jewelry. We do a good job of tailoring the experience based on the client's needs. We will never cut corners because someone has a smaller budget. You will always get the same amount of quality from us. We hand pick loose diamonds and provide you with an end product to be proud of.
SI City Lifestyle: How did the transition happen from your father running the business to the two of you?
Gerald: It was definitely a slow but steady process over the past ten years, before Peter and myself came on board he never had anyone he had to answer to or go against his wishes. The fortunate thing for us and what we consider the most important thing is that he is able to take time away from the business now and enjoy his semi-retirement by traveling and doing things he wants to do because his entire life he worked 365 days a year, 24/7 and now that Peter and I chopped up the responsibilities, it allows him to have peace of mind and to sit back and relax.
Peter: What Gerald and I have done well is I think keeping the core values and foundation my father built and added to it and have not taken away from it. The clients that come in are always happy to see this is a family business and they are not upset to see that my father is slowing down because he is not retired yet but he is definitely slowing down and he is happy that his sons are in the business and that they know for the next generation and for the years to come, they have someone to come to. Another thing we always pride ourselves on is that one of the owners is always here, so whether it is myself, Gerald, or my father they have the access to talk to us and that is something you cannot get at a big name jewelry store.
SI City Lifestyle: How did you build the connections to your high-end clientele such as Aaron Judge and LeBron James?
Gerald: In the past 12-18 months we have serviced some high-profile clients; sports athletes and so on, such as Aaron Judge and LeBron James, and back in October we made a sale of a watch that was given to Drake for his birthday and there a bunch of others we touched upon on but I think it gives our family credibility because these A-List or B-List celebrities can purchase from anyone in the world but at the end of the day they trust us with their purchase. I believe this will help us grow our business and brand. One of our dreams is for our brand to be a nationwide jeweler.
Our 4 Core Values are 1. Reputation Over Profit, 2. The Gerald Peters Experience, 3. Honesty and Integrity and 4. Teamwork. It’s never about the dollar amount.