Kimball's Jewelers understands the importance of sustainable consumption, allowing for products to be sold longer than 30 days before looking to reorder. This helps the business lower inventory costs and invest money in new places. Kimball's focuses on the quality of life for their employees, with an understanding that if employees can afford the items they need and want then they are able to consciously decide to purchase more expensive items with sustainable backgrounds.
University of Tennessee
The innovation is a business model that emerged around 2013. CEO Danny Overby realized after the 2009 recession, it is more important to ensure that decent work is available for community members rather than profit maximization. This realization happened because of an epiphany Missy Allen recalls him having, "... you can't strengthen the economy if no one has the money to buy anything."
The ideology of profit maximization was instilled into all management. Instead of purchasing items from big name brands as they came available, Kimball's now follows a 'Product Plan' that ensures items are only bought as needed. They also offer the possibility to "special order" items for customers that aren't found within the store.
Modeling the business practice in this way has allowed Kimball's the ability to invest money back into their employees, partners, and community. They have been able to offer aid for education, invest in developing small businesses, and host events that aid in creating a sustainable society.
Event Hosted by Kimball's Jewelers Showcasing Local Brewery's New Product Line
After the 2009 recession, many families were left trying to rebuild from job loss and finding themselves in financial turmoil. With the US domestic product falling by 4.3%. This became not only the deepest recession since World War 2 but the longest as well. Allen notes, "I remember how badly the recession impacted my family. I was without a job and had to find a way to support my children."
After seeing the negative impact that the recession had on Kimball’s employees, Overby knew that something had to be done to help support them as well as try to boost the East Tennessee economy. With the help from analysis professionals, accounting professionals, and feedback from employees, Kimball’s shifted from a profit maximization-based business model to one of reducing spending on products so money could be reinvested into the community.
Kimball’s began to optimize pay-rates for employees to ensure a higher quality of life. “This allows for our employees to be able to buy ‘greener’ products without the fear of financial burden,” Allen stated, “It is nice to be able to see our efforts making a change not only in the community but our mindsets as well.” The reinvestment of money also allows for Kimball’s to invite small businesses for local events that showcase products to help drive their sales as well.
The business model that Kimball’s has adopted as an expected practice has had a lot of impact. Some of the short-term effects noted from switching to a need-based ordering system eventually helped increase sales rather than decrease. With high profile brands featured in the building, Kimball’s employees strive to give visiting customers a luxurious experience when shopping in the store. With limited stock available in the building, Kimball’s offers a ‘special order’ option for customers who want items not available in store. This option keeps Kimball’s from stocking up on items that aren’t frequently purchased while still being able to satisfy customers.
A long-term effect this business model has had is the impact on employee’s pay. Kimball’s is a competitor to other local jewelry stores. In understanding that there are competitors, Overby recognizes that he needs competitive employment. Employees are provided with a comfortable workplace as well as ‘Goals’ that help drive motivation. Goals are formed on an individual basis and impact the amount of commission that employees receive at the end of each month. With the ability to invest into the team, Kimball’s offers employees a comfortable salary to ensure a great quality of life.
The model Kimball’s has adopted brings positive impacts to the business. Outside of the ability to invest back into employees, Kimball’s can use the money saved from sustainable consumption to help the company in other ways.
Kimball’s has been able to build strong partnerships with local businesses because of their ability to invest. As recently as November 5, 2021, Kimball’s was able to partner with a local Eastern Tennessee small business to host an event to celebrate a new product being offered. Not only does this investment help build a network between the two businesses, but it also helps drive customer traffic as the partnered businesses talk to their connections
This also helps build excitement around the holidays when Kimball’s invites brand representatives to bring items not featured to buy in-store. Representatives can showcase new items without the fear of competing with in-stock products.
Overall, the new model has aided in retention of employees, increased revenue, employee wellbeing, and opportunities for investment as well as networking. “The pros of our business model are far more impactful than any of the cons we have faced,” Allen said in our interview.
Our environment will always benefit from smart consumption. Kimball’s CEO, Danny Overby, understands the positive impact that businesses who chose sustainable practices over profit maximization can have on our society and environment. By optimizing their supply chain process, Kimball’s can aid in reducing production waste and work with brands that align with their ethical missions.
Being a responsible and sustainable-focused business has driven visits by customers that hold business ethics above all else. Kimball’s innovation has allowed it to not only positively impact their own company, but to be able to begin looking at ways to reinvest money into local Knoxville communities.
Missy Allen, Controller
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Knoxville, TN, US
Business Website: https://kimballsjewelers.com
Year Founded: 1933
Number of Employees: 11 to 50