J. VAIR ANDERSON
In the early 1900s, a young man named J. Vair Anderson finished his watchmaking training in Montreal before heading west in search of work. He decided to make a quick stop to visit his brother in Calgary before moving on to the coast. Little did he know at the time that the city would become his home, and he would start a business that would flourish for nine decades and be passed down through three generations.
In Calgary, J. Vair Anderson was introduced to jeweler D.E. Black, who convinced him to stick around and work for him. In 1925, he decided to strike out on his own with J. Vair Anderson Jewellers (page 50). After 92 years, and a few location changes, the company is still serving customers in the downtown core.
The founder’s grandson, Ken Anderson, has spent 45 years with the business. Anderson worked with both his father and grandfather before the business was passed down to him, and many of the store’s customers have stayed loyal through generations.
“My customers are more my friends than customers,” Anderson says. “You get to know their family. They’re getting married and suddenly it’s their 25th wedding anniversary. And then their kids are graduating.”
Anderson says that despite the challenges facing retail businesses with the recession and rise of online shopping, service keeps bringing people back.
“A young couple will come in and say, ‘My grandpa got his ring from your dad.’ It’s a wonderful feeling when they are that loyal because people can shop anywhere. They can shop online or anywhere in the city.”
Anderson says his vision for J. Vair Anderson Jewellers is to continue far into the future, “I’d love to be a Calgary-based family business for 100 years.”
"My customers are more my friends than customers. You get to know their family."