THOM DUMA FINE JEWELERS
115 WEST MARKET ST. (COURTHOUSE SQUARE)
WARREN, OHIO 44481,
MONDAY & SUNDAY CLOSED
The sleek, 21st century chic of the Thom Duma Fine Jewelry store belies a history stretching back some 115 years. Founded in 1896, as Klivan's Jewelers, the business had long been a well-established and respected institution in Youngstown when the first individual with the Duma name became associated with it.
Thom Duma, Sr. and his partner Isadore Diamondstein purchased the storied business in 1957. Recognizing the value of such a long established reputation, Duma and Diamondstein kept the Klivan's name, and immediately set about improving every other aspect of the business.
A watchmaker by trade, Thom Sr. was born in Warren, Ohio in 1919. Raised primarily by his mom, and growing up during the heart of the Great Depression, Tom, Sr.'s young life was not one of diamonds and pearls, but rather one of a great deal of hard work. Times were tough in the Duma household. Living in a home with no running water, he and his siblings were largely left to fend for themselves, while their mom did everything she could to keep the family in food and clothes.
Thus, Thom, Sr. began working at a very early age.
Turns out though, this was the best thing that could have ever happened for him. The hardships, struggles and adversities of his youth were what ultimately shaped the resourceful and philanthropic-oriented businessmen both he and his son, Tom Duma, Jr., were to one day become.
At the start of the Second World War, Thom, Sr. enlisted in the Air Force, and with no college training whatsoever, earned the rank of corporal—while serving in air traffic control in Mississippi during the war. During this period of his life two things happened to set the course for the rest of his personal and professional lives.
In 1942, Thom, Sr. married the lovely Helen Duma. And, he saw a watchmaker at work for the very first time. Working in the window of a Mississippi jewelry store, the watchmaker's relaxed deftness at his profession attracted a large crowd of fascinated onlookers. Drawn to the window by the exciting murmuring of the people, and equally mesmerized by the nature of the work, Thom, Sr. made up his mind—on the spot—to become a watchmaker.
After all, with his daughter Donna on the way, Thom, Sr. knew he'd need a craft. Taking advantage of the benefits of the G.I. Bill after the war, Thom, Sr. moved his young family back to Warren and attended watchmaking school there. Upon graduation, he secured a position repairing watches for Mike Sachs, at Sachs' Jewelry Store in downtown Warren.
There, Thom, Sr. met Isadore Diamondstein, who was also employed by Sachs. Having both come up from similarly hardscrabble lives, Thom, Sr. and Diamondstein found they had a lot in common—the two became good friends.
One day, the store got really busy. To cope with the unexpected influx of customers, Sachs called Thom, Sr. out to the sales floor to do whatever he could to provide a measure of service. And while he'd been called out just to keep customers occupied until a "real" salesperson could take care of them, Thom, Sr. proceeded to make his first sale.
Impressed with his easygoing manner, charming affability, and utter self-confidence, Sachs started bringing Thom, Sr. out to the sales floor more and more—until eventually he was out front selling, more often than he was in the back repairing watches. This marked yet another significant turn of events in Thom Sr.'s life, one that directly led to the establishment of the Thom Duma Fine Jewelry store we know today.
A full-time jewelry salesman now at Sachs', Thom, Sr. set out to learn all he could about the business. One of Thom, Sr.'s most admirable qualities is that when he sets his mind to do something—just as he did that fateful day in Mississippi when he decided to become a watchmaker—throughout his life, he has continually strived to become the best he possibly can at his chosen endeavor.
Diamondstein, having observed this quality in Thom, Sr. and being of a like mind, gravitated toward his new partner on the sales floor at Sachs'. And, quite predictably, with the two orbiting one another, it wasn't long before the men became to dream openly of blazing their own path toward their destinies.
The opportunity presented itself in 1957, when the last surviving Klivan family member decided to sell his business. Scraping together all the cash they could get their hands on, and taking out a loan for $79,000 for the rest of the investment capital, the pair became the owners of one of the oldest and most established retail jewelry names in Ohio.
Young, hungry, and with mouths to feed and (a loan to repay) the two plunged into it in earnest and aggressively promoted and remade the business. They undertook a major effort to update the look of the store, doing much of the painting and remodeling themselves. Additionally they advertised heavily, a practice Tom, Jr. firmly follows to this day. In one year's time, they increased the annual revenues of the store by a whopping $60,000 (which, need we remind you was pretty serious money back in 1958).
A rousing success, Thom Sr., and Diamondstein enjoyed a fruitful partnership until Diamondstein passed away in 1972. Reverently mounting a portrait of his dear friend and trusted colleague in the store, Tom, Sr. soldiered on alone until Tom, Jr. was ready to take the reins in 1985. Having started with his Dad in 1980, Tom, Jr. learned the business the old-fashioned way—from the ground up.
Working side-by-side with Thom, Sr., Tom, Jr. absorbed the lessons of his father's illustrious career. And, when his time came to lead, he knew exactly what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it. In 2002, he completely gutted the store and rebuilt his father's legacy from the bare walls.
The result is the wonderfully flowing environment you see today.
And just to make sure his dad would always be recognized as part of the business community in the town, which had been so good to his family, Tom, Jr. renamed the business Thom Duma Fine Jewelry in Thom, Sr.'s honor.
And thus, a legacy, born in the 19th century, bears new fruit in the 21st century, with a glittering outlook for enduring beyond.