On August 1, 1981, Larry Mollo, owner of Cole & Young Jewelers in Lansing, IL, decided to start keeping a hand-written log. On March 23, 2017, according to that log, he changed his 60,000th watch battery. That’s correct - Larry has been recording meticulously, every month for the past thirty-six years, how many watch batteries he has changed. Larry told me he started keeping this log out of boredom. This boredom has resulted in some amazing stories and numbers.
In his first year Larry changed 693. He did not break 1,000 in a year until year nine. Soon he became known for this important service to people from miles around.
Some other milestones:
- Biggest one day occurred in 2005 - 132 batteries.
- Biggest year was 2012 - 4,467 batteries.
- Biggest month was November 2014 - 510 batteries.
Each of the (now almost 61,000) batteries was changed by Larry alone. He went to a one-man operation three years after taking over the store in 1973. Cole & Young Jewelers was established in 1874, Larry is the seventh owner.
Today Larry charges (only) $5 per battery, the same price he has charged since 1992. This value conscious price and his impeccable service is why his battery customers reach out to him wherever their travels in life take them. One client who now lives in Sydney Australia, once per year comes back carrying with her ten watches - worth the trip! The same can be said for much closer locations such as California. With service & prices like this, why trust anyone else in the world?
Local customers can be seen bringing in bags of as many as forty watches. Local teachers on the last day of school, will send a ‘junior’ teacher with bags of watches, collected by all the teachers, typically more than fifty. Larry will install all on the same day, to be picked up the next day. Once a ‘big-box’ store sent over one hundred watches that had accumulated. The manager pleaded with Larry to ‘get me out of a jam’ - of course he was glad to help.
Customers will regularly say that they have six watches that need new batteries, but they can only afford to change one - they figure it would cost $30 or more, each. They are happy to hear the Cole & Young price. Even at $5 per battery, Larry has put his son through medical school on the profit over the years on battery changes alone!
Larry is comfortable keeping a pace of one watch battery per minute. One November day in 2002, a customer took a taxi from a Chicago neighborhood, over twenty miles away, with a bag of thirty-six watches. Larry told her she could wait for them. She sat and read a book while Larry changed all of them. He handed her back all the watches and told her ‘no charge’! Larry told her how touched he was that she thought of him and came such a long distance.
It’s plain to see why Larry Mollo is the ‘king of watch batteries’, with the human touch he has. He estimates to me that there is enough watches out there locally, that need batteries, that 100,000 is not out of the question. I will be there that day, reporting live, you can be sure.
Rob Phillips has been a sales rep in the jewelry industry for over thirty-five years. He is the Midwest representative for Galatea, Parade Design, & Stanton Color. He also is a Mobile Technology Consultant. You can reach him by visiting www.RobPhillips.com.