Meierotto Jewelers’ new 34,000-square-foot, two-story limestone building is a stunner — stationed on an Armour Road development site that is easily seen and accessible from Interstate 35.
But the Meierotto family said the investment was as much for their employees as their customers.
They have operated in the Northland since the store’s humble beginnings in an 800-square-foot space near a Vivion Road Kmart in 1979.
One move and three expansions later, the 40 employees were squeezed into 12,000-square-foot building at 4311 Vivion Road. Desks were set up in the hallways and outside bathrooms. The temperature was difficult to regulate — sometimes too hot, sometimes too cold. And the location was not easily accessible to their clients living in other parts of the metro.
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The family wanted a better experience for their staff and for their customers.
Their new building, at 1900 Diamond Parkway in North Kansas City, is in the One North development, a 62-acre, $134 million project that will include Flow House Kansas City, Driv Golf Lounge + Brewhouse, two Westin Hotels and a conference center, luxury apartments, and a 38,000-square-foot medical office building.
Starbucks has signed a letter of intent to open in the center and the developer also is in negotiations with a locally owned Mexican restaurant. One North is scheduled to be completed by December 2019.
Meierotto Jewelers, now in its second generation, was built mostly on word of mouth and even has customers who fly in from as far as California and Texas.
“We represent value for people. They are looking for transparency in pricing and we have a reputation for that,” said Ted Meierotto.
His parents, Dennis and Carol Meierotto, founded the business and still come in most days. But Carol prefers a low profile and said she would have been happy living in the country with a dozen children slamming the screen door as they came and went.
Then she started dating Dennis. Their dates often ended with her going up to his apartment, not for romance, but to help sort coins for his collection.
After they married he started buying and selling silver certificates as a hobby, making a tidy profit of about 26 percent. When the profits started falling, he bought up silver coins and silver flatware and had the pieces melted down.
But Carol considered some pieces just too beautiful to destroy so she started selling them to friends and neighbors. Then she set up a booth at area malls during antiques shows.
Her customers would pick-up flatware, maybe taking their eight place settings to 10, or replacing a damaged fork or knife, or even starting a new collection. But it added up. Carol sold $30,000 to $40,000 in just one weekend.
“They were so happy that they found their pattern at a good price,” she said, beaming at the memory.
But with five young children, the couple didn’t want to store their inventory at home or have customers coming to their house. So in 1979 they opened the Midwest Coin Exchange on Vivion Road.
Soon they had two more children and Carol considered quitting to become a stay-at-home mom. But Dennis said if she left, he would go with her.
So they started bringing their youngest children to the shop, often propping them up on the counter as they made a diamond sale. The school bus was soon dropping the older children at the shop instead of their house.
“Every one of them grew up in the store and they truly did. We spent many a night never going home,” said Carol Meierotto. “They all had their sleeping bags there. We had two baby beds. We had a little refrigerator in the jewelers’ room, we had a microwave on a counter and we had our cereal and sugar and can goods on shelves above the toilet. And that’s how we survived the first pretty much 10 years.”
Within a decade they had outgrown the space and built a larger store about a mile away at 4311 Vivion Road, and soon started operating as Meierotto Jewelers. They expanded twice more over the years.
Now customers walk in the new building and say ‘wow,’ she said.
The Meierottos broke ground for the store in October 2016 and opened in November 2017. They picked a modern decor — white walls, 14-foot ceiling on the first floor and sparkling chandeliers, but with cozy sofas in front of a fireplace. Still, Carol plans a mural on the back wall to make it even more homey.
Customers also want to know what’s upstairs. The family put in a catering kitchen and plans to use it as an event space for style shows and charitable events.
Meierotto carries lower-priced fashion jewelry to ultra high end pieces — from Pandora to Rolex, David Yurman and custom pieces — so Ted Meierotto said their competition is pretty much everyone in the jewelry business.
They also still offer seasonal produce from Dennis and Carol’s home garden — tomatoes, onions, cherries and more. On Saturdays customers might take home fresh eggs from the couple’s free-range chickens.
Many of the employees have been with the company 20 to 40 years. Three of Ted’s siblings — Tyler, Emily and Jenny — also work in the store, and tweens and one teen in the third generation help out — from tracking inventory to sales.
“As we have grown our selection has become unbeatable,” said Ted Meierotto. “We want to help the business grow and expand and appeal to a whole new generation of customers.”