The Roper’s Jewelers that most people know is the world of beautiful jewelry, shiny gemstones, custom designed heirlooms, watches brought back to life.  But, there is a less glamorous side to the business, like any business, and that is the financial side.  It isn’t pretty or flashy, but it is definitely necessary.

Let me tell you about my 39 year journey…

In March of 1981, I was a recent graduate of CSUS with a BS degree in Business, expecting my first child, and wanting to find a way to stay home with him.  My mother-in-law, Helen, had been doing the books for the store for 25 years at that point and was looking to hand off some of her duties.  I came in to pay bills and calculate payroll.  It was certainly a different world back then.  Our checkbook was a 3 ring binder with 3 tab checks, and we paid payroll in cash.  It was tedious and painstaking, but it was what I had been given to work with.  Three years later I took over the remaining duties of the daily sales and all reporting to the accountant.  I have great respect for Helen and the job she did for the store. She was methodical and meticulous and gave me a great basis to start from.

All work was done by hand with the aid of a 10 key adding machine.  At times I spent more hours with it than with my family.  Each month there was a 13 column spread sheet to be filled out by the day, calculating sales, repairs, taxes, cash and checks received in, etc.  Of course, at the end of the month it all had to balance.  It was the same with payroll.  Each staff member had an 81/2 x11 page, neatly divided into 4 quarters and all payroll was recorded on these sheets.  They were balanced monthly, quarterly and yearly.  I won’t even go into typing W-2 forms or doing quarterly taxes…

Roper’s Jewelers added a second store in March 1990.  My work load at this time doubled.  By now we had 2 sons, and I had finally moved the office from my dining table to a small room built for me under the store.  The boys often came with me and I still have their artwork that graced my walls of that office, along with my Oakland Athletics paraphernalia.  I still brought work home, many times working into the wee hours after the boys had gone to bed.  Any small business owner knows that you get the work done when you can.

We tried a software program for jewelry stores in the early 1990’s, but it wasn’t what we had hoped for.  So duties, such as counting inventory, a job we wanted the software to handle, still needed to be done by hand.  This meant each staff member had a legal sized note pad and were responsible for writing down the inventory information for each item.  It took days to record all the inventory.  Then, all the note pads were handed to me.  Our inventory system was coded in letters, so I had to transpose the letters to numbers in my head and add it up.  I was very good at it and extremely fast on a 10 key.

Thank goodness!

In the late 1980’s I converted the payroll to checks and by the early 1990’s our checkbook was computerized.  It definitely helped the work load as I also had 2 sons in school and was active in their classrooms and the Parent Teacher Club.

The store went fully computerized with Point of Sale in 2003.  We were one of the first businesses to sign up with this company and I was fortunate to travel with Lisa Henderson to Connecticut for the first ever training sessions.  We were also one of the only businesses to have multiple stores, so the beginning was both fascinating and hair pulling at the same time.  We learned together, but what a change it has made!  By this time, I had moved the financials to Quickbooks, and with the addition of the Edge software for jewelry stores, we really turned a corner.  Our inventory was digitalized, payroll and payables computerized.  I was truly poised to retire…

That all changed on September 12, 2014.  Harvey passed on a Friday night and the following Monday morning I opened the store, flanked by my 2 sons, and spoke to the entire staff at once.  I asked for their support and they rallied behind me.  The store was never closed for a single day, paychecks went out on time.  Doors opened and closed at our regular schedule.  I was able to take care of my team and they took care of me.

My job up to that point had not been an easy one, but the greatest challenges were ahead.  In the 5 ½ years since Harvey left us we have made many changes.  Our telephone and security systems are now of this century.  We have made use of many advantages our software had available, making us able to better serve our clients.  Upgrades I have made, like the job I have always done, are not readily visible but make a difference.

I am proud of the work I have done for our family business and the fact that I held it together in unspeakably difficult times.  I am proud of the advancements and improvements that will benefit the business for years to come.  I am extremely proud of my staff for their professionalism and thank them for their loyalty and friendship.

Roper’s Jewelers is a family business.  It was started by a family, it’s employees become family, and it’s a part of the family of businesses that support the community of Auburn.  I’m grateful that I have the chance to hand off the business to two of our most dedicated staff members, Lisa Henderson and Peggy Seitzinger, who are just as committed to Auburn.  And just as they support Auburn, I hope you’ll support them and welcome them as leaders of Auburn’s business community.

I’ll stay busy as a full-time Grammy, pie baker, Star Trek fan, traveler, gardener, Crossword puzzle fanatic and amateur quilt maker.

It was my hope to have a big retirement bash and use it as a fundraiser for the Gold Country Fair Heritage Foundation.  I hope you’ll join with me in supporting this worthwhile group working to better our beloved Fairgrounds.  If you would like to donate, click here:
Donate now in honor of Brenda Roper

Tuesday, June 30th, from 11:00am to 2:00pm, I’ll be handing out Hotdogs in front of our Downtown Store at 818 Lincoln Way.  Please come by to say hello and get a hotdog!