Silver TQ, LLC now has a retail ecommerce website to market its silver and turquoise jewelry
November 1, 2018
When it comes to Native American jewelry, authenticity and company longevity build trust between seller and buyer. For nearly 40 years, Silver TQ, LLC has been a prominent regional wholesaler of its product, which is sourced directly from reservation artists.
Owners Sam Shoultz and Frank Petrouskie have now decided to also offer this fine silver and turquoise jewelry to online retail customers. Not only are all items handcrafted and guaranteed authentic, prices are competitive.
Shoultz and original partner, the late Ken Matzner, first offered Indian items at the renowned Glen Echo Resort in Poudre Canyon around 1975. Matzner had originally bought Native American jewelry in the 1950s and '60s, then expanded his buying pace when interest heated up in the '70s.
On Mother's Day 1975, Matzner and Shoultz put out every item they had at the resort and sold it all in one day. Then, some tourists who owned their own stores expressed interest in purchasing larger amounts on a wholesale basis. Demand soon outgrew the premises until, in 1978, the two men established a wholesale segment, formerly known as KESA Wholesale.
Through strong business ties with Native American artist communities, they developed a marketing proficiency by personally selecting and purchasing a wide array of items. Besides jewelry, these included handmade Navajo rugs, pottery and table fetishes.
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One main reason to source directly from the artists, said Shoultz, goes back to his business's early days. He heard some jewelry out there definitely was sterling and authentic Native American, but coming out of a Holbrook, Ariz., shop owned by a Mexican-American man who stamped NAKAI on it. That word is Navajo for Mexican.
So, Shoultz and Matzner began personally traveling to the reservations to be 100 percent accurate about what they bought and sold. Every January/February, they spent 30-45 days buying from their artists (on Navajo, Zuni, Hopi, Santo Domingo, Rio Grande Pueblo reservations) and then calling on wholesale customers all along the way back until April or May. Over the years, the number of individual artists represented has exceeded 2,500.
In 2001, Shoultz and Matzner sold the resort to devote more time to wholesaling. Sadly, Matzner died in 2016 after a lengthy, valiant fight against prostate cancer.
In the summer of 2017, Petrouskie left behind a highly successful, 15-year career as a residential real estate broker associate in Tulsa, Okla., to relocate in Fort Collins, Colo. There he joined forces with Shoultz to further build the already well-established wholesale business.
A longtime collector of Native American art, Petrouskie loves the creativity of the jewelry.
"I'm enamored of it." he proclaimed, adding, "I relish the opportunity of working in a creative and artistic environment."
Petrouskie noted that his marketing and sales skills will be a great addition to the company, now called Silver TQ, LLC (TQ stands for turquoise). KESA Wholesale was a well-recognized name but the change was primarily for online retail reasons.
The method of supplying their excellent, expanded retail product won't change. All items will be hand-selected directly from numerous reservation cottage-industry artists, including Navajos Jereme Delgarito, Ella Linkin, Bruce Morgan, Lyle Piaso; also, Zuni artists Phillip Sanchez, and Robert and Bernice Leekya. The craftsmanship is exceptional and variety almost endless.
Besides jewelry runs, Petrouskie will maintain the e-Commerce website and be in charge of photography. Shoultz will handle purchases, packaging, billing and bookwork. A big plus is that they can ship while on-the-road, thus eliminating any real down-time.
When setting up the new e-Commerce website, much consideration was given to business and design issues. One idea tossed back and forth was whether or not to establish a specific men's jewelry category. The decision was ultimately made by a conversation with a customer.
Shoultz recalled one day that he was assisting a female shopper interested in purchasing a ring for herself. But she couldn't find one she liked that fit. When she pointed to another display, Shoultz explained those were men's rings.
The woman quickly eyed Shoultz, paused, and then firmly stated, "Sir, when it's on my finger, it's a lady's ring."
"Busted." Shoultz now said. "We finally decided for the website to loosely include a 'men's shop' strictly as a matter of convenience. It's not a decision we feel entirely comfortable with, though. The last thing we want to do is dictate what someone should or shouldn't wear, man or woman. We say if it suits you, wear it. Much of Indian jewelry is unisex."
Another consideration was the amount of product dedicated to the website. The company has such a large inventory that it would literally have taken years to construct the site in order to give a full representation of all salable items.
After almost six months of preparation, it became clear it was better to launch Silver TQ's online presence despite having less than 10 percent of available inventory on it.
For this reason, customers are encouraged to routinely check out the "New" shop box on the Homepage. Also, they're welcome to contact the company if they are unable to find something they're looking for. Specific requests can often be fulfilled due to the large number of silversmith artists capable of producing nearly any fine, custom piece imaginable.
Shoultz and Petrouskie are extremely enthused about this new, expanded retail growth. They'll continue promoting their site through search engines, on the Ebay store, and (coming soon) on Etsy.
Petrouskie said "The time has now come for us to sell finely handcrafted Indian jewelry everywhere in the world. Honestly speaking, who residing on this planet wouldn't look just a little bit more attractive wearing some of our quality-selected Silver TQ, LLC jewelry made right here in the good old USA?"
To view just some of those beautiful silver creations, visit http://www.SilverTQ.com. If questions, call Sam Shoultz at (970) 215-9433, or Frank Petrouskie at (970) 233-0988. ❖
— Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.