Being in business for one year is a great accomplishment, but to celebrate 20 of them? That’s an accomplishment many owners don’t get to take part in.
Balentine & Co. Jewelers in Bossier City celebrated two decades of service earlier this fall. It’s something that Owner Lee Balentine credits to being certain about what he’s doing.
“You have to pass that on to your customers because they have to be confident in what you can bring. The combination of knowing what you’re doing and bringing that confidence to the customer is key,” he said.
Balentine & Co specializes in custom creations and jewelry repair, and the store showcases a wide selection to suit every style, offering anything from vintage to modern, simple to extravagant. Their services include jewelry repair, custom jewelry design, jewelry appraisals, watch repair, clock repair, and corporate jewelry.
“We go the extra mile to connect with customers. I know that’s a cliche but there’s so much truth to it. Some stores I go to and I feel like I’m just another number, but other businesses I feel connected to and have a good feeling when I leave that place,” Mr. Balentine said.
Lee began his career in jewelry at only 17 years of age. As the son of a farmer, he quickly learned he wanted to do anything but farming, and found jewelry work and gemology interesting. Steve Bryan of Bryan’s Jewelry in Minden hired and taught him the basics of jewelry and watch repair. After high school, Lee attended and graduated from the jewelry school in Natchitoches.
After coming back to Shreveport, Lee worked for well-known jeweler CE Mounce of the Lane Building in downtown Shreveport until Mr. Mounce’s death in 1996. Lee was at a crossroads — work for someone else or open a store on his own. With one small showcase of jewelry, a skill for repair and custom designs, and a dream, Balentine & Co Jewelers was born.
“When I started, I had no money. I started with one showcase and one jewelers bench. I would work, invest the money in the store,” Mr. Balentine said.
The business out grew the small suite of the Lane building, and Lee relocated to a street-front suite on Milam Street. And in 2004, Lee did what he says is one of the best business decisions he’s ever made, he moved the business to Airline Drive in Bossier City.
He’s very adamant his success up to this point has come from putting his faith in God to provide, which allows him to focus on the customer.
“As a Christian man, I don’t view my customers as an end result. I see God as my source, He provides. That allows me to connect with my customers and many of my customers I consider friends,” Mr. Balentine said.
Lee now has 36 years of experience in the jewelry industry and is passing that knowledge and experience down to his daughter, Alexis.
We’re thankful for these 20 wonderful years and excited about all the future has to offer,” Alexis said.
So what advice can Mr. Balentine offer other business owners? He said to surround yourself with successful people.
“There’s so much to learn from them. This town is full of jewelry stores and when I have an issue or a problem, most of them I can call and ask for help.”
He also advised them to be diligent, saying, “Hang in there, don’t give up. It’s tough, it’s easy to get discouraged but every day is a challenge and it’s a new adventure.”
This story was originally published in the December edition of BIZ. Magazine.