Family-Owned Jewelers in Asheville and Waynesville Closing Stores; Huge Liquidation in the Works
After 50 years in the jewelry business, John Laughter has decided it's time to close his locally owned stores in Asheville and Waynesville.
“I've been on the sales floor for 50 years, including the holidays, serving the public,” Laughter said. “Time to close that chapter.”
Going out of business sale
For those looking for once-in-a-lifetime deals on fine jewelry, mark your calendars. Both stores are having going out of business sales with huge discounts beginning Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 at 10 a.m.
The stores sell classic jewelry pieces including an array of diamond engagement rings, wedding bands, sapphire, emerald and ruby gemstones, and some harder to find items including Lightning Ridge and Ethiopian opals and tsavorite garnets.
Necklaces, bracelets, and earrings - some with up to 5-carat diamonds - will be liquidated.
One unique jewelry piece in particular for sale will turn heads: an estate emerald from the 1920s worth $35,000 that’s been re-cut and fashioned into a modern fashion ring.
Hooked on jewelry at a young age
Laughter recalls shining shoes in Smokey’s barbershop in downtown Hendersonville, NC, at age 12. Keith Shelley, a regular customer, would often get a haircut and a shoeshine.
One day, he asked Laughter if he wanted to work at the jewelry store and learn how to be a goldsmith.
Laughter accepted and quickly became enthralled with jewelry making, already making plans at age 16 to own his own store one day.
“I was hooked,” he said.
In 1973, they opened Shelley’s Jewelry in downtown Hendersonville. Then they tried different locations in malls, Blue Ridge and Forest City before finally settling on Waynesville and Asheville.
Shelley taught Laughter the values of people, employees, and integrity. Business partners for 34 years, they developed a reputation in the community for superb customer service and high-quality jewelry.
In 2008, after the passing of Keith, Shelley’s son Stan and Laughter divided the company. Laughter then renamed the Asheville and Waynesville stores John Laughter Jewelry.
Aside from selling classic, high-quality jewelry, John Laughter Jewelry has flourished over the years because of how the staff treats its customers.
“I teach my staff, that lady with the 25-cent plastic trinket is just as important as the lady with the $250,000 diamond,” he said. “They’re both afforded the same dignity. We want this to be a friendly and inviting place.”
John said, “ I am passionate about giving a fair price and then being honest with that price. I put the price on the piece of jewelry that I need to keep the doors open. I never add to the price so that my staff can ‘discount’ it to make you think you are getting a bargain.”
It’s also a family affair of sorts.
His son Grant, who grew up in the family business, also has a passion for jewelry. He’s currently a store manager and inventory manager. Laughter’s wife Camille is also an integral part of the business overseeing the books, accounting and inventory records.
What he’ll miss
As he makes plans to close the business, Laughter says one thing he’ll miss is being involved in creating lasting memories for customers.
“I love the emotional connection between jewelry and the memory it creates,” he said. “A 90-year-old customer can come in here and tell me ‘I got this from my daddy when I was 13.’” I enjoy that.”
Serving multiple generations of customers
Laughter has also enjoyed seeing customers’ children eventually become customers.
“I have sold engagement rings to a young couple that I sold to their parents and to grandparents,” he said. “I am going to miss the relationships that I have built, customers that I've helped since the seventies.”
He also has a love of the business. He’s not sure what he would have done otherwise. Laughter pauses as he reflects on a long career in the jewelry business.
“I think it was just the good Lord watching over me and giving me this opportunity,” he said.
Want to go?
What: John Laughter Jewelry Going Out of Business Sale
When: Opens to the public Monday, Nov. 12, 2018
Store hours: 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where:Two Locations to Visit!
Dingle Creek Shopping Center