Re­tail Spot­light

Where Calgary - - SHOPPING - —Silvia Pikal

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."

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