Lighthouse Point, FL—We aren’t taking any chances with this storm after what the team at J.R. Dunn Jewelers went through in 2005 with Hurricane Wilma. As I’m writing this on Wednesday, the latest model European model (ECMWF) runs show the possibility of a major (category 4) Hurricane Matthew hitting South Florida twice—first later this week, then circling back to hit us again Monday or Tuesday.
Eleven years ago the store only suffered minor structural damage with Wilma, but the power was knocked out for nearly 10 days. Our owner, James “Jim” Dunn, slept at the store on an air mattress with a shotgun by his side for the duration.
“My wife and I started J.R. Dunn Jewelers in 1969 and worked hard to build the business,” said Jim. “I’ll be damned if I was going to let somebody come in here and take it all away from my family and the people who for work us. “
When Wilma hit, my wife and I had just had our first child. My son was weeks old and I was there at the house with my wife but going to the store every day. First I brought my dad an air mattress, then we brought him ice, then sandwiches, and it just kept going.
Once the storm cleared, even without power, the J.R. Dunn team kept busy and productive, taking advantage of the opportunity to repaint the building and clean up the property. Some sales were made, too! One of J.R. Dunn’s regular clients who wanted to get engaged was driving by and saw us. We showed him a 3.00 carat H color, VS2 clarity, GIA -certified diamond in our parking lot, since we had no lights. The natural sunlight really made that diamond pop, and the deal was made.
Hopefully, though, during Hurricane Matthew things will be a bit different. We took the lessons we learned from Wilma to heart. We now have a big commercial generator and we’ve battened down the hatches really early this time around. We are also ready to continue taking orders on JRDunn.com, 24/7, having forwarded our main toll-free number to our e-commerce sales teams’ cell phones to maintain the level of service our clients expect. Even if we have to tell customers that we’ll get back to them in a few days, you have to respond immediately when someone reaches you online.
While it was important to us to be truly prepared for business, we really wanted to make sure our associates had plenty of time to take care of their families and secure their homes, as well. To this end, a number of J.R. Dunn team members arrived early this morning to help us secure our jewelry in the vault, cover our showcases, unplug computers and telephones, and move desk and office supplies to higher ground in the event of flooding. Our processing team was fulfilling orders for our online clients. Storm shutters were put in place on the showroom windows, and our e-Commerce building has been boarded up. They came, they helped, they were sent home to prepare.
Tools of the trade this week at JR Dunn: no diamond tweezers or loupes, just power drills and hammers and saws. Below, the store is empty, merchandise safely vaulted, and showcases covered wtih protective plastic.
The team has a great sense of humor, whatever the situation, and took advantage of the blank wood to spray –paint some cute messages. Among some of the graffiti for drivers to see: Rain or Shine, J.R.Dunn.com 24/7, #WeOpen, #HurricaneMatthew, A Storm So Nice It Might Hit Twice, and #BeSafe
Making the best of a bad situation: the normally elegant exterior of JR Dunn's e-commerce building boarded up and covered with humorous graffiti. "The eComm team takes great pride in our online presence, so it was a must to decorate the boarded windows," says JR Dunn's Zack Rogers.
Above, Andrew Lefton, sales manager, in his "Team J.R. Dunn" shirt helping secure the hurricane shutters on the main showroom before Matthew makes landfall. Below, Jim Dunn (as in the man behind J.R. Dunn) also working to secure the hurricane shutters of the showroom.
While we have yet to feel the full impact of Matthew and are doing what we can to make the best of a challenging situation, our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been, and will be, impacted by the storm.
Top image: JR Dunn's renowned jewelers, Miguel (green) Anthony (purple/blue) and Tom (light blue) helping to finalize hurricane preparations.