Paul Goodin's Love of the Artistry of Jewelry and His Daughter Gwen Merrill's
Passion for Customer Service, Make You Feel Like Family at Goodin's Jewelry
When you walk in Goodin’s Jewelry, you will find cases of gorgeous jewelry and watches, unique gift items and home decor around the edges of the store and a friendly staff that is ready to make you feel like family. Goodin’s is family owned by Paul and Debbie Goodin and managed by their daughter Gwen Merrill. The Goodin family prides themselves on providing outstanding customer service and top notch jewelry expertise with 30 years of combined knowledge and experience.
This family journey would all start with Paul Goodin’s love of jewelry and the artistry behind it. While Paul was in high school, he attended church with Leo Aureli who was the Regional Vice President for Zale’s Jewelry. As they were leaving church one day, Leo approached Paul and told him he thought he had the mechanics to become a watchmaker and he would like to teach him. Leo would begin training Paul on the art of watch repair at night in his home. When that summer of 1972 came around, Leo hired Paul to work in sales at the Zale’s Jewelry that was then located in Western Plaza.
During this time, Zale’s was at the height of their success with three stores here in Amarillo. Zale’s was created by M.B. Zale and started in Dallas with two locations, Ft. Worth with the third location and the downtown Amarillo location was the fourth Zale’s created. The downtown Zale’s was in the old Fisk building at 8th & Polk. It was three stories, had 21 employees (4 of which were full time gift wrappers) and a butler. Mr. Zale not only sold jewelry but household items such as stereos, toasters and coffee makers. But what M.B. really focused on was creating more than just a purchase but an “experience” by providing coffee, gift wrapping and excellent customer service. The lessons Paul would learn during his 5 years with Zale’s would be the foundation for his jewelry career.
Around 1976, Leo Aureli left Zale’s to open his own jewelry store, Aureli and Son Jewelers, in Sunset Center where he asked Paul to join him. Leo sent his son, Leo Jr., to train for two years at the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology, located at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas. Many people thought Paul was the “son” behind Aureli and Son since he and Leo worked side by side while Leo Jr. was in school. When Leo Jr. finished his training he came back home and taught Paul everything he had learned. Paul and Leo Jr.’s affinity for benchwork (designing and repairing jewelry and watches) would lead them to open A&G Jewelry Repair on Wolflin in 1983.
Leo Jr. stayed at A&G for about 3-4 years before he moved on and Paul took over. Paul and A&G Jewelry Repair turned into THE jewelry repair expert for all of the chain jewelry stores in town at the time, such as Zale’s, Lynn’s, Mission, Dillards, Corrigan’s and Service Merchandise. Paul would go to his shop at 6:00am and work for a few hours then head to the mall that opened at 10:00am. He’d make his rounds at the mall to gather all of their repair orders, then come back to his shop and work until around 9:00pm. Paul would carry on this demanding schedule for 21 years. Paul recalls, “That’s what I did the whole time the girls were growing up. A lot of times we would eat dinner at 9:30 at night because they waited for me to get home so we could eat together.”
Around 1998, Paul’s accountant noticed a lot of money coming in and out of the business but no growth so he suggested Paul add retail jewelry to his business. So Paul added retail to take some of the pressure off and his wife, Debbie, came to work the front counter while he continued with jewelry repair. In 2001, the Goodins were ready to expand so Paul and Debbie went driving around looking at commercial property one Sunday after church and found their current location at 3701 Olsen Blvd. They signed the lease the next day and opened what is now Goodin’s Jewelry.
Paul and Debbie have two daughters, Gwen and Kim. Kim works at Pantex and Gwen works along side her dad managing Goodin’s today. Gwen had always wanted to work in the jewelry business but her dad encouraged her to get a degree first as a backup. Gwen started with a teaching degree and switched to math. She had always had jobs where she excelled in selling. She worked her way up to top salesman at Beall’s and even sold antiques on 6th Street. Even after getting her college degree, she knew she wanted to work with her dad, so Gwen started at Goodin’s when they opened their new location in 2001. Gwen brought a fresh perspective and added gift items and home decor to enhance the retail side of their business.
“We’re loyal and we’re honest. And that’s so important in business, especially the jewelry business.”
One unique aspect of Goodin’s Jewelry is their ability to custom design any piece of jewelry you can possibly imagine. Paul recalls the “caveman” days of jewelry designing where they would have to hand cut the jewelry design out of a piece of wax. The wax would be placed in plaster of paris to form a mold. Then the wax would be melted out of the mold it was contained in and a centrifugal thrower would “throw” the melted metal into the mold. Then you would drop the mold in water and the plaster would melt away revealing the new jewelry. Paul recalls how much the jewelry business has changed in the last 30-40 years because of the technology that is available now. Over the last 5-8 years, CAD (Computer Aided Design) has gained popularity and taken custom jewelry to a new level. Today you’re able to sit with Paul or Gwen and come up with a design that is uniquely you. They send the design specs to their jewelry maker in Quail, Texas who then creates a CAD 3D rendering of exactly what your new piece will look like. From there you can edit, change and approve the design and your new custom piece will be ready within a week or two. You can update heirloom pieces, combine several pieces or have something created from scratch.
When asked how the internet and online shopping have effected his business, Paul explains that people will buy items online and end up in his store wanting to know what they actually bought, wanting to change something on it or being unhappy with what they bought. Paul explains, “It’s easy to see this transition where they might have bought on the internet but they don’t continually keep going back. The service they get with something they buy from us is the same whether they bought it here or not. Once they step in our store, we become their jeweler. The internet can be a challenge, but we keep on growing.”
Gwen and Paul have worked together almost 20 years now. They have a mutual respect for one another and are both passionate about the jewelry business and providing the best experience for their customers. Paul says, “It’s fun and we have a good time waiting on our people. I think really, truly more customers come in as customers and leave as friends.” Goodin’s is a member of the Jewelers Board of Trade and has exquisite jewelry including bridal sets, provides jewelry and watch repair, custom jewelry design and is full of beautiful home decor and fun gift items. So check out Goodin’s Jewelry at 3701 Olsen Blvd. where you will be treated like family.