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Valle Jewelers

March 10, 2022 - 10:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, Valle Jewelers, chamber of commerce, notify.

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For siblings Stephen Valle and Carrie Lawrence, they may have their differences, but both agree on one central point: The history of Valle Jewelers is every bit as important as its future.

“We owe the success of our family business to our grandparents and our parents, for paving the way for us,” Lawrence said during an interview with The Batavian. “We are a conservative partnership, and we made really strict, responsible decisions,” she said, as her brother tacked on “to keep the business in a successful position.”

They have not only maintained that goal, but also reaped some well-earned recognition as the 2021 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award recipient. Theresa DeMars nominated Valle Jewelers for its customer service, engagement with and support of the community, steadfast participation in downtown events, and being a “fixture in our community for three generations,” DeMars said.

“Valle Jewelers is a community staple, a true family-run business, and one of our best kept secrets,” she said in her nomination. 

Valle and Lawrence discussed some of that history, how the siblings manage to work well together, how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their jewelry business and how to take it into the future. 

Where it all began …
Grandpa Dominic Valle first opened the doors of Valle Jewelers on May 3, 1951, in what was once the Carey Mansion, which has since been torn down and sat on East Main Street across from the current City Church. Dom and Mary Valle continued the business and saw it through the Urban Renewal era when the jewelry store was housed in Genesee Country Mall for 24 years. When Mary retired from her nursing career, she became “a huge part of our move to Jackson Street,” Lawrence said. 

And it’s there, at 21 Jackson St., where Valle’s found its home, complete with the iconic street clock at the curb. Grandpa Valle died in 2005 and Dom died five years ago. Mary decided to step away from the business as Stephen and Carrie stepped up to carry the tradition forward. That wasn’t her first intention when filling in a gap on the sales floor 13 years ago, Lawrence said. 

“I never had any plans of coming in here,” she said. “They had a need and I thought it was going to be temporary. I never left.”

Stephen’s entry into the business was more purposeful. After attending a couple of years of college, he attended the New Approach School for Jewelers in Virginia Beach. With humble beginnings of helping out for a few summers, his focus grew toward the repair end of things, and now he’s been fully immersed in operations as a 20-year jewelry veteran. The Chamber award has given him pause to reflect on being part of the family’s legacy.

“I’m super proud to be a a part of it; it made me realize how special this award is,” he said.

Has working side by side with his sister been a smooth journey? He and Lawrence agreed that, sure, they may not agree on every little thing,  but they do agree on the big stuff.

“There are some brother and sister dynamics that are dealt with day in and day out. At the end of the day, we always agree on the things that matter. Our customers and our staff are most important,” Lawrence said. “And we have always given as much as we can to our community that has been so good to us. It is just as important to us to support our community as it was for our grandparents and our parents.”

Social media's healing power ...
They have a grateful spirit, not only for the solid foundation left to them but also for shakier times when a pandemic hit the business world hard. For a luxury business, Valle and Lawrence were initially concerned about how it would fare, he said.

“We were nervous about the direction we were going to go,” Valle said. “It created much more of a focus on how to reach our customers.”

Armed with six years of college studying business marketing, Lawrence is the chief marketer for the business. She is adept at taking and promoting photos on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media venues, and has realized, she said, that “all of that technology has allowed us to reach our customers.” In fact, digital technology has been "a game-changer,” she said, as a way to safely promote and deliver products for people to see.

“In a digital age, we haven’t lost focus with our connection with our customers. Our focus is to bring customers through the door. That’s what we love about the business, the face to face interaction," she said. "We were busier than ever through COVID. Really, social media certainly assisted that for us to keep moving; it gave us that ability. Certainly, we were busier through COVID because people weren't traveling and weren't going out as much. And it's such a beautiful, feel-good product that made people happy. So we flourished through COVID, because it gave people a little ray of sunshine, you know?"

Even though they were able to maintain — and even increase — business during the whole COVID shutdown, both partners realized the importance of relationships that stemmed from as far back as their grandfather Dominic, Valle said. It was that combination — a personal connection and digital platforms — that stabilized their success, he said.

The store was only closed for 12 weeks during the two-year pandemic, Lawrence said.

“Other than that, we battled through for a year and a half," she said. "Yes, it was more difficult, we had to work a lot harder, but it was still successful. We're super blessed.”

They maintain a website that features select products, however, the main goal is to get customers through the door “so we can develop relationships with our community, like my grandpa did 70 years ago,” Lawrence said. “We've still been able to maintain that, and that’s actually what we love about this business, that it's so face to face, and so many things these days are not.”

Moving onward ...
From the 1950s through Urban renewal and now getting beyond a pandemic, what does the future hold for Valle Jewelers? Joining the Retail Jewelers Organization and attending yearly shows have provided the pair with keen insights into what’s trending and hot in the industry, Lawrence said.

Sterling silver and 14-carat gold, despite — or maybe because of — its increasing cost are popular choices, she said. And updated technology has boosted custom-designed engagement and wedding rings, and made them “easier than ever” to craft tailor-made items for customers, she and Valle said. As for trends, some popular fashion styles are returning, Lawrence said, including “layering chains and stacking jewelry."

This is the third of four articles highlighting the 50th Annual Chamber of Commerce Awards. The annual dinner is Saturday at Batavia Downs, with hor d’oeuvres at 5 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. For more information about the dinner, call the Genesee County Chamber at (585) 343-7440.

Top photo: Siblings Stephen Valle, 40, and Carrie Lawrence, 38, are proud to be the recipients of the 2021 Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award for their longtime family business, Valle Jewelers. Stephen Valle works on repairs at his niche inside the Jackson Street shop. Valle's is full of jewelry choices, and the signature street clock earmarks the store at 21 Jackson St., Batavia. Photos by Howard Owens.

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March 5, 2017 - 9:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, news, Valle Jewelers.

Dom Valle, who with his wife, Mary, owned and operated Valle Jewelers after taking over the 66-year-old business from his father, passed away Friday.

He was 63 years old.

Dom's good nature and ease around people were always apparent to customers of Valle Jewelers and in 2011 when reflecting on the store's 60th anniversary, he said he loved what he did.

"I've always been happy to be in the business," Dom said.

And he was raised in the business, so were his children. Stephen Valle and Carrie Lawrence operate the store now.

For his full obituary, click here.

June 10, 2016 - 7:57pm

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If you visited Valle Jewelers today, you probably met Megan Williams, mother of Brady, 9, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 20 months.

The Williams family of Oakfield is one of the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation families around the nation that raises money to help fight pediatric cancer. The family has raised more than $30,000 for the foundation, mostly through the lemonade stand they set up every year at Oakfield's Labor Days festival.

Today, as they did last year, Valle's donated 10 percent of all sales to the foundation. 

Plus you got a free cup of lemonade from Megan.

The foundation today had a goal of raising $1 million nationally, through the participation of 36 families, representing the 36 children diagnosed every day with cancer.

November 26, 2012 - 9:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Valle Jewelers, Sponsored Post, advertisement, contests.

If you've previously LIKED Valle's on Facebook, you can still enter the contest. You just need to register. Click here to LIKE Valle's on Facebook and/or register for the contest.

October 31, 2012 - 5:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Valle Jewelers, Sponsored Post, contests, advertisement.

Like Valle Jewelers' page on Facebook for a chance to win a Chamilia bracelet! A great present for yourself or somebody else. Remember, you must do two things to be eligible to win: Like Valle's page and register for the contest. Click Here.

June 11, 2011 - 1:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Jackson Street, Valle Jewelers.

Valle Jewelers is celebrating its 60th year in business today with sales, prize drawings and refreshments. There was a good number of people in the store this morning when we stopped by.

Previously: Three generations and 60 years later, Valle family business still sparkles

June 9, 2011 - 4:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Valle Jewelers.

As a third-generation Valle working in the family business, Stephen Valle says he's really come to understand what time and jewelry mean to each other.

Valle helps many first-time customers select the perfect diamond ring, a ring that may get passed down from mother to daughter, as well provide the service needed to preserve memories for customers who bought what has become a family heirloom from Stephen's grandfather, Dominic Valle.

"I see the sentimental value of a piece of jewelry and it gives me a respect for the business, maybe one I didn’t have when I first started," Stephen said. "You might have an older lady who received an engagement ring from grandpa in 1967 or 1958 and she’s bringing in her grandson to buy a ring. Slowly and surely I've come to appreciate how long the business has been around."

Dominic Valle first opened the doors of Valle Jewelers May 3, 1951, in what was once the Carey Mansion (now torn down, but used to be across the street from City Church on East Main Street).

At one time or another, pretty much every member of the Valle family has worked in Valle Jewelers over the past 60 years, and it was the birth of a new generation of Valles that kept the family from celebrating the store's 60th anniversary in May, so they're doing it this month.

Though all of June, there is a storewide sale -- with some items discounted as much as 60 percent. But the big celebration is Saturday when store guests can register for prize drawings (no purchase necessary on many of the prizes), with refreshments thoughout the day, hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch and a live broadcast from the store by WBTA from 10 a.m. to noon.

"I think most importantly the anniversary is a tribute to my father-in-law and my family and how a family can survive through difficult financial times," Mary Valle said. "We’ve been so blessed, but it’s because of the community. We’ve been trusted and patronized by customers and friends."

Mary's husband Dom Valle, Dominic's son, said his dad, who passed away in 2005, was probably attracted to the jewelry business because he always liked the finer things in life. As a soldier stationed in Cairo during World War II, while his comrades sent home war souvenirs, Dominic Valle was buying things like Persian rugs and sending them back to Batavia.

"We still have a few of those rugs in the family," Dom said.

After the war, Dominic went to work for Reed Jewelers in Niagara Falls. A couple of years later, he returned to Batavia to work for Ways Jewelry. He then worked for local jeweler Herb Brenner about a month before deciding to open his own store.

The store has been in several locations through the years -- 90 E. Main St., 122 E. Main St., the Genesee Country Mall and starting in 2000, its current location at 19 Jackson St., Batavia.

At each step of the way, the business has grown, Dom said.

"For as much as a white elephant the mall turned out to be, our business did really good there," Dom said. "The mall has always had its drawbacks from day one to the present. But strangely enough, our business improved every year we were there. Not by leaps and bounds, but we were blessed to say that we had even just a little increase every year."

In 1999, when the building on Jackson Street came up at auction, the Valles decided to put in a bid, and it was a good thing they got the building at a good price, Dom said, because they've put "a ton of money" into its restoration.

But it's proven to be a good business move, Dom said, and Valle Jewelers has continued to prosper on Jackson Street.

"There was nothing pushing us out of the mall," Dom said. "We just wanted a change of scenery."

With the move to Jackson Street, Mary Valle, who had a 26-year career as a registered nurse, started working in the store.

In 2003, Stephen Valle decided to enter the business. Like his father, he went to school to learn goldsmithing and diamond setting, and to become a GIA certified diamond grader. He then returned to assume a spot on the repair bench right next to Dom.

"My father got to see the third genration come in and that made him happy," Dom said. "Futurewise, what I would hope for Stephen is that some day he'll have a son and a fourth generation will go into the business. That would be pretty nice."

Like father like son -- both Dom and Stephen were attracted to the business because they were around it and saw what their fathers' did.

For Dom, it was coming in after school and helping out by sweeping the floor or cleaning windows.

But when his father needed heart surgery when he was in eighth grade, it was really impressed upon him that Valles was a whole family business. While Dominic recovered, Dom's sisters pitched in and his uncle ran the store.

As he grew older, there was just no question Dom would follow Dominic into the jewelry trade.

"I've always been happy to be in the business," Dom said.

Even though it hasn't always been easy -- especially with the long hours required in retail and the demands of raising a family -- Dom said, he found a way to make it work.

"I always say I broke the cardinal rule of retailing to take Saturdays off to go to Stephen's hockey games," Dom said. "I always said I wasn’t going to let these times pass me by, so I didn’t work on Saturdays."

Over the years, Stephen has worked with aunts, cousins and sisters. And with each family member getting a say in how the business is run, there isn't always total agreement, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

"At end of the day, we have lot of family and sometimes it’s a little too many chiefs, but we all have the same goal," Stephen said. "We may not always see things the same way every day, but at the end of every month it seems to work out."

The future of the business is in the hands of Stephan and his sister, Carrie Lawrence, and Mary feels pretty good about that.

“I actually feel that he is capable of taking it to even a higher level than we have,” Mary said. “I believe that his motivation and passion, and with the help of his sister, with her business background, her good taste, organization skills and leadership, the two of them can make it even a better place than it’s been through all of these years.” 

Photos of Stephen Valle working at the bench by Howard Owens. Bottom photo submitted by Valle Jewelers. Pictured are Carrie Lawrence, left, staff member Adam Luckenbach, Mary Valle, Dom Valle Jr., office manager Mary Louise Fridmann and Stephen Valle.

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