A long-time Canadian watch and jewellery repair business, which saw all of its locations in Sears stores shut down because of the demise of the giant retailer, has risen from the ashes and is expanding its new brand across the country.
Milon Talsania, vice-president of operations for Fast Time Watch & Jewellery Repair, said the family-owned business operated for years as a licenced department in the Sears department store under the brand Sears Watch & Jewellery Repair.
“Unfortunately despite our business growing on an annual basis – and being chosen as one of our Sears Best Licensees – our contract was terminated by Sears and we were forced to close all of our locations in Sears Canada due to Sears Canada declaring bankruptcy,” said Talsania.
“All our eggs were in one basket you could say. At Sears, we were looking to expand even further. Unfortunately all this stuff happened. We always felt very strong about our model. Our business was still going strong in Sears. I guess we were in a house with a very leaky roof that crashed. Our model worked. Our business worked. The demand for our business was there. We fix everything we like to say from a Timex to a Rolex and everything in between.
“We thought. Okay Sears is gone. Our business is still successful. We just need to find a new home to operate out of. We approached the malls and the malls were very open to our concept. Our business is still one of the few that you can’t do online. Customers want to bring in their watches, they want to bring in their jewellery, to get repaired. The mall liked our concept because it brought footsteps into the mall.”
So the idea for the company’s resurrection from the Sears’ death was to build small boutique kiosks within malls. It hired a company out of Montreal – Pappas Design Studio – to help in the design.
“The mall gives us the opportunity to open up our business to the Sears customer and now to a whole market.”
To date, the new business venture has 11 locations and it will be opening soon its 12th location in London in White Oaks Mall. Recently it opened another location in London in CF Masonville Place. The first location was in London in the Westmount Shopping Centre.
“And hopefully more to come,” said Talsania.
The family-owned business began in 1979 under a company called Far East Watch Cases Ltd. The company was started by Talsania’s mother and father – Nina and Sam.
“We started operating watch and jewellery repair kiosks inside department stores,” said Talsania, adding they were located in many different department stores such as Eaton’s and Simpson’s.
“When Sears was expanding and taking over more locations in Canada . . . we moved in with them and we expanded our business within Sears in five different provinces in Canada and we had 62 locations at one point as recently as a couple of years ago.
“Our goal is to get back into many of the 62 locations we were in. We ran a very successful business . . . . I don’t have a set time frame. We opened up 12 locations within a year. Our goal is to get back into as many of these markets as possible. We know the market. We know what the potential is there.”
Currently all the company’s stores are located in Ontario.
“We feel that eventually we can become a destination. So the location depends on where the mall has availability. So we don’t have a set model. Most of these will be kiosks . . . I think what makes our model great is that it’s flexible. We can do a kiosk but we can also go into an inline mall location as well,” said Talsania.
“In our business, it’s a trust business . . . when customers bring in their expensive watches. We’re not just selling jeans. We’re repairing personal items here – his and hers wedding rings, things that have been passed down from their grandfather or grandmother, that kind of a thing. That trust element is really critical and I think the fact that we bring that into a mall. Although our company name is new, we are not new.”