I remember being new to this watch and jewelry industry. It was in the early-mid 1980’s and I was working for National Jeweler Magazine – then one of the top publications in the industry, owned by Milt Gralla and his brother. One of my first assignments was to fly to Kansas City, Mo., and visit with Tivol Jewelers – to write an article on the family-owned store that was going to named National Jeweler’s “Retailer Hall of Fame” winner. It was one of the more memorable experiences of my early career thanks to the very warm and welcoming Harold and Ruth Tivol, Sadly, Harold Tivol passed away yesterday at the age of 92.
In my opinion, he was a man of vision, filled with a passion and enthusiasm for the jewelry and watch world, and for his customers. While his father started the business in 1910, Harold – a GIA graduate – joined the company in 1946. He, together with his wife Ruth Krigel Tivol, grew the business to all new heights.
They were always on the cutting edge of everything: I remember seeing them at international exhibitions scouting out the finest new designers and jewelry makers from around the world. They implemented training programs and incentives for their sales associates that were advanced for their time and regularly brought media attention to the store.
In fact, they were the “go-to” retail jewelers when we, at National Jeweler, wanted quotes from the finest for our articles, or insights into how other jewelers could learn to improve.
But what struck me the most was not their love of each other, their love of the business, or their enthusiasm for the industry. It was not the fact that they were probably the first retailers in the country to bring in some of the finest Italian designers and helped build their brands. No, what struck the memory chord for me was the way they treated people – each other, customers, others in the industry. Harold Tivol was a real gentleman – the type that is hard to come by in today’s digital world. He was a man that shook your hand with confidence but encouragement, a man who looked you in the eyes with his always-present glimmer. I am proud to say I knew him back in those early years of my career, and I am sure that others who have worked with him feel the same way.
Tivol Jewelers continues to be family run, with Harold’s daughter Cathy at the helm. With her son recently joining the company, the legendary retailer is now four generations strong.