Since they first opened their doors back in 2006, Lily & Co. Jewelers co-owners Karen Bell and Dan Schuyler focused on putting everything in their collective capacities - expertise, personality, heart and soul - into the business.
And over the past five years, they have been blessed with numerous accolades and honors, including a Jeweler's Circular Keystone (JCK) award for being one of the top 10 jewelry stores in the country and an InStore Magazine feature touting Lily & Co. as one of "America's Coolest Stores."
But Bell and Schuyler are about to experience the biggest challenge since they decided to remodel their building, which at various times has been a Methodist church, schoolhouse, art gallery, bank and podiatrist's office.
An artists' rendering of the Fort Myers location of Lily & Co. Jewelers.
On Sept. 1, Lily & Co. will officially acquire Christine's Jewelry By Design, located at 13550 Reflections Parkway in Fort Myers, paving the way for the business to expand to a second location.
According to Bell, the decision to open a second store came about by chance.
"The owners (of Christine's Jewelry By Design) came to us about two months ago," she said. "The idea to open a second store is one of those things that kinda goes through your mind... but we hadn't seriously thought about it before."
Schuyler said that he and Bell wrestled with the idea of investigating the possibility of acquiring the off-island location in early July, going back and forth over whether it would be the right opportunity for them to pursue.
However, just as Bell was about to send an e-mail to the owner of Christine's Jewelry By Design declining the offer, she got a phone call from Schuyler.
"Dan said, 'We're doing it!'" she recalled. "And here we are, stepping outside of the box once again."
Schuyler said one of the contributing factors in their decision to open a second location was the relationship established between Christine's clientele and her staff, something Lily & Co. knows is essential in business.
"We were honored that (Christine) felt comfortable working with us, because she has a reputation of treating her customers like family," he said. "We are honored that she felt that way towards us, too."
Scheduled for a "soft" opening on Oct. 1, Schuyler said the Fort Myers Lily & Co. location will have all of the same merchandise and amenities - and customer-friendly warmth - as the original store.
"We are taking the island experience and bringing it over to Fort Myers," said Schuyler. "It will have the same Lily-themed atmosphere."
In addition to the sales floor, the Fort Myers location will offer a custom design center with three work benches. While they have retained master jeweler Robert Dowdy, they have hired Leah Manziano as store manager. Manziano began her career in the industry with Tiffany & Co. in New Jersey, and more recently worked in the jewelry department at Saks Fifth Avenue at the Waterside Shops in Naples.
Both Bell and Schuyler noted that the opportunity to expand their business would not have been possible without the support of the island community.
"None of this would be possible without the relationships we've built on Sanibel and Captiva," said Bell. "We are so excited to be moving forward with this."
Schuyler, who plans to stage a grand opening at the new store on the weekend following Thanksgiving, added, "We are always going to be hands-on owners, here in the trenches every day... with Lily and Gracie and Angel."
For more information about Lily & Co., visit the store at 520 Tarpon Bay Road, call 472-2888 or visit www.lilyjewelers.com.