Tired of charging your wristwatch every night? Well, a once prominent Providence jewelry company recently opened a retail outlet on the ground level of their world headquarters in Wayland Square. Speidel, a brand founded in 1904 and known for watches, bands, and ID bracelets, had previously faced an uncertain future in an ever-changing retail environment.
In a city once known as the Jewelry Capital of the World, the brand’s resurgence is a local success story. “I knew the iconic Rhode Island company and the long history of the brand, 100-plus years,” explains owner and CEO Gennaro Cerce, who purchased the company in 2009. “We wanted to use Speidel as a platform and to provide consumer products in the timepiece and accessory business.”
The brand overhaul began mainly as a wholesale operation. “We sold to independent jewelry stores, department stores.” Cerce begins. “But our messaging was getting muddled, and there was a lot of change in the retail environment. So in 2016, we decided to go direct to the consumer. We did that through our website and storefront platform on Amazon.”
In 2021, the company established a presence in Wayland Square, with plans for a service-oriented business. “We renovated the building and set up our corporate headquarters and offices there,” says Cerce. “We were already well known for our replacement watch bands. We wanted to open up other products to the consumer.”
For many customers, shopping at the new store is like running into an old friend. Some people even stopped by during the soft opening to share stories about their vintage Speidel. “We love hearing stories of all the nostalgia that goes with the brand. We do a lot of international business, but it’s nice to have that connection to Rhode Island, being a Rhode Island family and company,” explains Cerce.
In addition to sales, Cerce wanted the
company to focus on service, including watch repair – a dying art in a throwaway consumer culture. “We went out and found a watchmaker and opened a repair service,” Cerce revealed. “We do anything from link and battery replacement to a full overhaul.” And if you’re an Apple Watch wearer, they’ve got you covered. Speidel has a line of compatible wristbands including the famous Twist-O-Flex, a popular style originally created by the company.
Many Rhode Islanders have memories of the signature Speidel ID bracelets, a product Cerce and his wife Maggie hope to make popular again. “You can come in and have your bracelet engraved,” says Maggie. “It’s been amazing; we’ve had some customers come in who still have their original ID bracelet from when they were a child. They may have gotten it from a grandparent, a family member, or even a high school sweetheart. It’s been heartwarming to see the response in the community. It was really important to us to bring a solid engraving machine to the store; that personalization and customization is what makes Speidel’s retail store special. We want the store to be welcoming … It’s about the community.” 145 Wayland Avenue, Speidel.com
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