(Dec. 5, 2014) John Kokkinos is not one to miss an opportunity. During the time of year when many Ocean City businesses are settling in for a long winter’s nap, he is expanding by opening a new store just outside of the resort in Fenwick Island, Del.
“I’m a pretty daring person anyway, but I know the potential there and I didn’t want to lose the momentum from the store that was there before us,” Kokkinos said.
After nearly 40 years in the business, the Krugerrand had set some deep footprints for Kokkinos to follow when it closed in October. Sophia’s opened its doors for the first time on Dec. 4 after a massive refurbishing, redesign and relaunch effort.
“We’re going to have discounts on everything, between 20-40 percent off. Our prices are realistic–we don’t inflate them and then say 60-70 percent off. You’re coming out with a real bargain,” Kokkinos said.
One of only 200 certified Master Bench Jewelers in the nation, Kokkinos has been doing business in Ocean City for 30 years. He had to pass a grueling series of tests in several different disciplines to achieve certification.
“I just had to confirm it two weeks ago – I’m the only one in the state of Maryland,” he said.
It’s the fourth and highest level the Jewelers of America, an industry advocacy group, bestows upon its members.
“It’s very restrictive because most of the technicians in my trade may specialize in one or two areas and may have mastered one or two or three areas of knowledge, this tests like a dozen,” he said of the certification.
Kokkinos designs, creates and showcases his own handcrafted jewelry along with a number of other products that meet his standards of quality. Since he creates a lot of jewelry himself, he knows what he is looking for in the products he chooses to sell.
“Knowing what I know, I cannot sell something I don’t believe in,” he said.
This posture translated into his theory for the new shop easily: he knows what he wants, and knows what he doesn’t need.
“We had a purchase agreement where we didn’t buy [Krugerrand] inventory, and we didn’t buy his name, but we did buy the goodwill,” along with the fixtures, safe and preferred customer lists.
Managing partner Byron Anthony will handle the day-to-day operations of Sophia’s, along with Kokkinos and former Krugerrand staff. Significant upgrades were required in order for the Krugerrand shop to fit into the Kokkinos family.
“[The owner] had a very small, boutique size showroom – about 300 square feet,” Kokkinos said. “He sold a lot of nice stuff – and did well with antique jewelry, which we also sell. So a lot of the merchandise was similar.”
In fact, the two owners had business dealings as far back as 1983. With Kokkinos’ education and experience he was able to provide certain things the owner of the Krugerrand was not.
“We did repairs and technical assistance. We have been the people he sent the repairs and custom work to,” Kokkinos said. “We provided technical advice and did stone identification for them. He was a customer, and because of our relationship, when he decided to retire he came to me first.”
Sophia’s, named for his daughter, will feature signature lines jewelry such as watches and rings, but will also carry a wider variety of jewelry in the expanded showroom.
“We’re going to have nice, well-made stuff,” he said.
Sophia’s, located in the Village of Fenwick, will be open in December from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and weekdays. In the new year Sophia’s will be open weather permitting until Spring.