Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

NOV-DEC 2018

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"I've been fortunate to work with three generations of clients, soon to be four," says Cindy Nichols, vice president of Reis-Nichols Jewelers. "Ours is a family business, and we have built a special relationship with our clients over the decades." One of the increasingly rare retail establishments today that is not driven purely by price points, Reis-Nichols distinguishes itself from the crowd by offering an exceptionally high level of customer service. "We are the antithesis of the internet business, which is more transactional and price-oriented," explains CEO William "B.J." Nichols. "Our business is based upon relationships. It's about the experience." Reis-Nichols has a fascinating history, interwoven with the history of Indianapolis. The story begins with the Reis Company in 1919, specializing in the design and manufacture of emblematic jewelry for various Masonic organizations, an aspect of the business that continues to the present day. In 1957, William "Bill" Nichols, father of Cindy and B.J., began working with his uncle Eldridge, focusing on jewelry manufacturing and wholesale distribution, setting the stage for the direction the company would take. He eventually purchased his uncle's jewelry store and renamed it William P. Nichols Jewelers. e new store was located within the State Life Building on East Washington Street in downtown Indianapolis until a devastating fire destroyed the structure in 1973. Fortuitously, Bill had kicked the company safe closed on his way out of the building, thereby inadvertently protecting countless thousands of dollars of inventory from the blaze and the subsequent precipitous fall from the fifth floor as the building collapsed. In spite of the damage to many items, the business survived and reopened in the L. Strauss Building the following year. Bringing the story full circle, in 1972 Bill bought the Reis Company, renaming the new entity Reis-Nichols Direct Factory Outlet. e store was opened to the public in 1980 with a showroom on South Meridian Street. e quality and value afforded by the new manufacturer-retailer, combined with a growing reputation for outstanding customer service, established a substantial and loyal customer base that would become generational. "My dad [Bill] built a reputation for the company based on his most sincere desire to serve his customers as if they were family," continues B.J. "He believed that if he could set exacting standards for quality, value and customer service, he would be a success." In 1988, just before downtown Indianapolis entered its resurgent growth years, Reis-Nichols moved again, this time to the second floor of the Majestic Building at 47 South Pennsylvania Street. e showroom was accessible by a classic Otis elevator, and upon arrival the elevator sounded with a distinctive "ding". e ding became the store's signature sound and it still functions as the door chime at the Fashion Mall Commons location and to this day is featured in the tagline of Reis-Nichols' radio spots. Later in 1988, Bill sold Reis-Nichols to his five children: Cindy, Linda, Brenda, Karla and B.J., all of whom had previously worked for the family business during the school holidays. Written by Neil Charles CROWN JEWEL Reis-Nichols celebrates a century. 106

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