Not every business owner gets to make customers smile. Breaking the news about a defunct air conditioner doesn’t exactly bring squeals of joy. But for more than three decades, the Maggio family, owner of Reflections in Gold, has been bedazzling brides on their wedding day and commemorating anniversaries and graduations with beautiful gems in custom-designed settings. That makes for delighted customers—and an upbeat workplace.
“My goal is making my customers happy,” says Liz Maggio, who started the business in 1981 with her husband, Tony. “Helping them find that special something makes me happy.”
What also makes Maggio happy is working with her granddaughter, Nicole, and grandson, Tony. Nicole answers the phone and helps customers find that special bracelet or necklace, while Tony works in an office adjoining his grandparents’, learning how to purchase gems and design and market to a younger generation, with the goal of eventually running the business.
The Maggios had a trial run a year ago when a boating accident landed the elder Tony, Liz and a great-grandson in the emergency room. Liz spent 13 days in the hospital. Tony kept the business running, occasionally running diamonds to the hospital to get his grandmother’s approval.
“I feel very comfortable having Tony at the helm,” says Liz. “I’d like to be a little bit retired.” For now, retirement for Liz means coming in at 11 a.m., instead of 8 a.m. Her husband has had an easier time backing away, coming in to help as needed.
Liz and her husband’s office, with face-to-face desks cluttered with framed family pictures, shares a door with their grandson’s office, which mostly stays open. Customers frequently meander in to say hello.
“I designed a ring the first time he proposed,” Liz says of one such customer. The engagement didn’t work out, so Liz took back the ring and created another ring for a different woman a few years later. “They’ve been married for 24 years,” she notes with satisfaction.
As in many small businesses, customer service is what keeps people coming back. The Maggios are willing to go above and beyond.
“Once a guy took out his fake eye and asked us to polish it,” Liz says with a laugh. “So we polished it.”
They’ve served such celebrities as circus animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams and the late baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Pee Wee Reese. The Maggios became friends with Reese and his wife; Reese signed dozens of baseballs and donated signed pictures that Liz gave to charity.
The Maggios also donate jewelry to charity auctions for the Women’s Resource Center, SKY YMCA, Epiphany Cathedral Church, Big Brothers Big Sisters and sports teams at Venice High School. “There’s joy in giving,” says Liz.
That giving extends to food. When Hurricane Irma threatened Venice with a Category 4 strike, Liz, who says she’s an Italian who loves to cook, prepared pounds of chicken cutlets, eggplant Parmesan and spaghetti and drove all over town delivering meals to family and friends.
New ways of selling jewelry, from celebrities hawking pieces on the Home Shopping Network and low-priced collections on Amazon, have undercut some jewelry stores. But Liz says it hasn’t affected their business. “We’ve got an older clientele and we’ve been working with them for years,” she says.
And younger Venetians are following in their parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps. Tony finds himself now designing engagement rings for childhood friends.
“My generation will go online to research and they come in knowing what they want,” Tony says. “They will spend the extra time because they want the personal touch.”