Sissy’s Log Cabin, the fine jewelry chain established in Pine Bluff, Ark., in 1970, is one of independent jewelry retailing’s biggest success stories.
Founded by Sissy Jones as an antiques store, the business got its start in a termite-riddled log cabin Jones spied on the side of the road and ended up renting for $50 a month. Over half a century later, the Jones family still owns and operates the company (Sissy’s son Bill Jones is its CEO). And this May, the family will open its sixth Sissy’s Log Cabin, at upscale strip mall Promenade at Chenal in West Little Rock. The new space will join existing company stores in Pine Bluff, Little Rock Heights, Jonesboro and Conway, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn.
We caught up with vice president of operations William Jones, who represents the third generation of the business (he and his brother, Wyatt Jones, are Bill and Sharri Jones’ kids), to find out how Sissy’s has continued to grow and thrive when so many other family-owned brick-and-mortar business have struggled—and even shuttered—over the past decade:
The Zing Report: Hi, William! Tell us about the new store in West Little Rock—what was attractive about that location for you guys?
William Jones: We want to be able to be in more markets, and all the stores going forward are designed to attach you to the original Sissy’s Log Cabin. In the new store, there’s the story of the business on the walls, and there’s a bronze statue of the original log cabin. The new store is in West Little Rock where there’s been a massive shift in [local demographics]. We did some research on zip codes and…we recognized it was a market we’d like to get into. The store itself is in a shopping center across from an Apple store and a Lululemon, and there’s valet parking.
Also, we wanted to try to do something in a smaller footprint; we’re trying to create this very high-end luxury sales experience in a 2,000-square-foot sales floor. If we can do it [successfully], we can open more stores. At some point we want to open a store in a certain high-end vacation area, and this store is around the same square footage as the stores available there. The smaller size takes less inventory and less people. That would allow us to move into bigger markets.
What do you think the secret of Sissy’s Log Cabin’s success has been?
We’re constantly thinking about growth. We set goals and really work toward them. We have a hefty goal when it comes to where we want to take this company. Knowing that, we know every day counts and every decision counts.
One thing I think is cool is this: I’m 30 years old and when I was 19 and 20 years old, I’d sit in ad meetings and listen to people talk about how brick-and-mortar stores wouldn’t exist by this time. Now, what we’re really focused on is going back in time and doing what we did so well at the original cabin.
In what ways are you doing that?
My main thing now is being involved in employee training and maintaining the culture. We have online training programs and classes once a month where we bring in an improv actor to do [sales simulations] and training seminars once a month. I also pay actors to go into stores with hidden cameras to go and shop people. We’re constantly refining that experience. I want ours to be the best retail experience in the world—not just in jewelry. —Emili Vesilind
Top photo: The storefront that will be Sissy’s Log Cabin’s boutique in West Little Rock, Ark. (all photos courtesy of Sissy’s Log Cabin)