Terrie Day loves nature's handiwork, exotic locations and making people happy, all of which she has incorporated into her jewelry business, Sabai (3115 Magazine St., 899-9555; 924 Royal St., 525-6211).
She named her company, which started with a booth at the French Market 14 years ago, after a Thai word that translates into "content, happy, well-being," she says, and her stores are illustrative of the attitude with zen-inspired displays, lovely and uncommon jewelry, and prices that make customers in a range of ages happy.
"We are all about the beauty from the Earth," says Day, who opened a storefront in the French Quarter seven years ago, followed two years later by an Uptown store. "We try to cover our bases (in having something for everyone). But more than that, we're trying to buy quality stones, then we go for the quality of the metal that holds it together."
In addition to the New Orleans retail stores and a kiosk she still maintains at the French Market, Day last October opened a third jewelry store in Baton Rouge. Sabai also manufactures jewelry, which is sold wholesale to several Louisiana customers as well as firms outside the state.
"About 40 percent (of the jewelry in the stores) is manufactured by Sabai," she says. "We design in New Orleans and manufacture in Bali. ... We also have other lines from all over the world ... and we have about 10 American designers. We just choose lines we really love that have a reasonable price." There are higher-end items made with exceptional stones, she says, and the Royal Street store also carries some antique items and jewelry with 18- and 22-carat gold.
Besides jewelry, Sabai also carries photography, Buddhist statues, some Tibetan deity paintings, handbags and a few home decorating accessories, something for all the different age groups that visit the shops.
"We have all ages and types as customers," Day says. "We've been blessed by the tourist trade, walk-in trade and local customers."
Right the First Time
People who drive European imports generally buy them because of their quality, dependability and longevity and expect the professionals who maintain and repair those vehicles to understand their focus on excellence and carry it forward.
The Bimmers Clinic Professional Auto Service (3212 26th St., Metairie, 837-8880) has built its reputation for doing just that over the past 20 years. The business opened in 1984, specializing in European imports and using parts and equipment by Bosch, the gold standard in the industry. Bimmers is one of only 500 auto shops in the United States authorized to sell Bosch parts, and in 2001 was named the No. 1 Bosch shop in the country.
Noah Morales, founder and CEO of Bimmers Clinic, says his business has thrived because he has maintained experienced and competent employees and places an emphasis on customer service.
"Most of my business is based on the service," says Morales, who offers maintenance, repair, detailing, parts and accessories, and even sells used cars. "The main reason (we get repeat business) is the way we treat our customers. They know they can always talk to me or my manager, who's been with me for 19 years the consistency of having the same people to deal with makes it easier. I have four employees and three of them have been here for 19 years. The new guy has been here for 10. [Customers] know we're going to fix the car right the first time, and we have first-class service."
Bimmers works on gasoline or diesel fuel-injection systems, anti-lock brakes, electrical and electronic systems, hybrid ignitions, and also offers special accessories such as body kits, cams, shortshifters, spoilers, wheels, turbo/superchargers and more. In addition, the shop will detail customers' cars to look "showroom new," including vacuuming and shampooing carpets, touching up leather interiors and on the outside, buffing and applying Teflon paint sealer, which is guaranteed for a year.
"My customers buy these cars to drive for a long time; we keep them looking new," Morales says -- and for a reasonable price. "I try not to sell my business on being the cheapest in town, because you get what you pay for, but I consider we have fair prices for the types of cars we're working on.
"People always ask me Who is my competition?' I feel that I have no competition. I am the dealers' competition. [Bimmers is] an alternative to dealers' service, a place where customers can get more for less."
Academic Year in America (AYA) is seeking families interested in hosting students from South America in their homes during the upcoming school year and sharing experiences with those youngsters. AYA's Ambassador Program this year is with Brazil.
Students in the international exchange program will arrive in New Orleans in mid-August and will attend high school here for a semester or a year. All have studied English, have medical insurance and their own spending money. Families who host a student from Brazil and agree to take them to cultural activities will be given $250 to help fund excursions. For more information, contact Colleen Robinson at 897-0207.
- Owner Terrie Day shows off a small display of the many jewelry and art offerings available at Sabai.