David Gaines probably assesses his life’s work differently than many people would assume after learning that he’s spent 34 years working at Gaines Jewelry, the Flint-based store founded by his father in 1963.
“My dad’s philosophy wasn’t to just wow anyone with inventory or to simply sell them a product,” said Gaines. “He taught me early on that we are here to form relationships, to get to know people and build the trust that creates a customer for life.”
“I’m in the jewelry industry, but it’s really about the people that I meet and then get to be a part of their lives. That’s what hooked me. We get to touch people at a time in their lives that they’re happy and a moment that they will remember forever, whether that’s engagements, birthdays or other special occasions. I fell in love with being a part of that feeling.”
As the Gaines family celebrates 57 years in business in 2020, David, along with his daughter, Selina, and son, Wesley, look back with pride at how the Flint community has embraced them. The family business mirrors the community, with the third generation of Gaines involved in finding precious gems and accessories for its third generation of clients.
David recalls his father selling pieces to customers whose children and grandchildren now allow David to meet their jewelry needs
“It’s these long-standing relationships that are so important because it shows we have created a tradition and that we continue living up to the expectations,” David said. “At the same time, we love meeting new people and starting out with them from square one. That’s an exciting process for us.”
As the region’s oldest independent jewelry store, Gaines Jewelry found a balance in having the latest designs and popular brands like Pandora and Kabana alongside original, unique pieces. The family also finds satisfaction in carrying such a wide inventory that they can meet price points of customers at any stage in life.
The full-service nature of the business also allows Gaines to collaborate with clients on repairs, jewelry redesigns and custom designs. Many processes once done by hand are now done using a computer-aided design process to create timeless and poignant pieces. Customizing jewelry has become more efficient and customer-friendly in recent years because of technology, which Gaines Jewelry has invested in to be at the cutting-edge of the industry.
“If you can dream it, we can build it,” David says, noting designs can be conceptualized and completed in as little as three to four weeks.
While the jeweler’s primary operations are based at the Beecher Road location, the Gaines’ are also eagerly anticipating what the future brings with the addition of The Gallery by Gaines pop-up shop in the Shops on Saginaw in downtown Flint. Daughter Selina manages the new location that opened in December. The shop has a curated selection of affordable and fashionable jewelry, and the opening was a sign of how the family feels about Flint.
“Flint is my town, it’s where I went to school, went to college and raised my family,” David said. “The community has invested in us, and we have invested in the community that we love. There’s a lot of momentum downtown and we want to support and be a part of that activity.
“The Gallery is a sampling of what we have done and what people can expect when they visit (the Beecher Road store). We hope it introduces us to new people or makes it more convenient for them to visit our store and learn about us.”