Al Hodge, Rome-Floyd Chamber Executive, and Jan
Jan Fergerson was only seventeen years old in 1973 when standing in her parents’ kitchen as she washed dishes, Joe Gittings asked if she wanted to work in his jewelry store for the Christmas season. Fergerson, who now shares ownership of Ford, Gittings and Kane Jewelers (along with Gittings’ four daughters) likes to joke that “Christmas just kept coming” for her because it has been 45 years, and she has not left yet.
Though Fergerson has obviously had a hand in the evolution and growth of the store over time, she is adamant that it is no solo effort. “We do everything on a team concept,” she explains. This means that the ten team members work together, bringing all of their different expertise to the table, when they serve a customer.
Fergerson also credits Mr. Joe Gittings himself in both being a mentor as well as the “main visionary” for the business. “He deserves all the credit,” Fergerson says. “When it comes to business, anything that I do right, he cultivated in me.”
The jewelry store originally started almost 60 years ago, in 1958, by Gittings and two other men: Bill Ford and Bill Kane. Gittings became the sole owner in 1980, when he purchased the building next door to the original, expanding the store by double. In 1996, he sold out to Fergerson and his daughters, including Alice Herring, who now works directly with Fergerson.
As the years go by, one thing has remained the same, says Fergerson: Ford, Gittings and Kane’s continued commit to the original mission of the store. “The store was founded to be a full-service jewelry store that treats people like you want to be treated,” explains Fergerson.
“We have the pleasure of working with multi-generational families,” says Fergerson. One such example is when the store supplied the wedding rings for an entire family, starting with the great-grandparents when the store first opened; to more recently, when the great-grandchildren came from another state to purchase their wedding bands.
This kind of legacy and commitment is one of the ways that Ford, Gittings and Kane maintains its stellar reputation and the trusting bonds built with their customers. “Mr. Gittings taught me early on to listen to my ‘sixth-sense’ and my intuition. Our business is very much founded on trust: customers have to trust us, and we have to trust them,” says Fergerson. This trust is immediately felt when first entering the store, even by their most recent customers.
On Thursday, September 6th, one such gentleman drove from Alabama to Rome, Georgia because of the reviews he had read online about Ford, Gittings and Kane. “He told us that he was willing to drive to us, because he is celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary, and he felt that we would have something that was worthy of his wife,” says Fergerson.
Fergerson shared how important these types of personal connections have been and continue to be for her business. “We have a rich history, and we are celebrating a very successful present,” but she also continues to look forward to meeting new customers and making new memories in the future.
Overall, the memories are the best part of Ford, Gittings and Kane for Fergerson. “We celebrate the happiest times of people’s lives, and for them to allow us into those celebrations, we consider it a huge honor,” smiles Fergerson. “And we don’t take it for granted.”