ANIMAL INSTINCTS
B.D. JEFFRIES’S UNIQUE MERCHANDISE MIX TARGETS A UNIQUE CLIENTELE

Byline: Danielle Cohen

What do you get when you cross a zebra with a dog, a crocodile with a cow, a horse with a leopard? Well, throw china, linens, crystal and silver into the mix, and you get success. Debbie and Brad Weitz are the owners of B.D. Jeffries, a pair of specialty stores that serve up an elegant mix of hunting-, equestrian-, and fishing-inspired paraphernalia, along with high-end, hard-to-find fashion and accessories.
With a recently launched Web site and 4000-square-foot and 1500-square-foot stores, one on Roswell Road in Buckhead and one in Charlotte, N.C.’s South Park, the company targets a specific affluent niche.
“Our customers will always buy gifts. There will always be birthdays, graduations and housewarmings,” Debbie Weitz, head buyer, says.
Catering to this group, the owners constantly seek ways to tie into their lifestyles, traveling around the world to find the old and the new.
“We go to a lot of trouble to buy in Europe,” said Brad Weitz. “We spend a lot of time and money [to do so].” Offering a clever mix of hand-picked French, British and American antiques as well as soon-to-be-trend-setting items, B.D. Jeffries also carries a unique contrast of prestigious brands (Longchamp, Limoges and Hermes), along with less famous manufacturers.
Many, such as Nancy Gonzalez, a South American manufacturer of handbags and accessories, started out as “unknowns” at B.D. Jeffries before being picked up by fine stores around the world.
While other shops may carry a few similar items, B.D. Jeffries has a big variety of theme-oriented merchandise, including a private label of alligator and crocodile wares. This exclusive line features belts, wallets, credit-card cases, cigar containers and various other pieces designed by Debbie Weitz.
The couple personally selected home furnishings in the store from South Africa, France, Belgium and Sweden.
Merchandise ranges from $25 to several thousand. Everything is for sale, including tables and shelves used as display pieces: armoires, ottomans, accent tables and more. With a lack of direct competition, the Weitzes have seen 35 to 40 percent annual sales growth.
Over the past nine years, B.D. Jeffries has built brand-name recognition through various channels, which led, in part, to plans for expansion into prominent markets like Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Greenwich, Conn., and Houston, as well as upstate New York.
The duo has created a marketplace for high-end shoppers worldwide, through direct mail campaigns, public relations, banner ads on affiliate Web sites and print media. Recently, B.D. Jeffries joined BestSelections.com, one of two America Online luxury shopping sites. Direct mail marketing through invitations to private sales and exclusive trunk shows is one way in which customers are targeted, as well as the B.D. Jeffries catalog, printed twice a year.
B.D. Jeffries’ Web site, bdjeffries.com, launched last October and, with the help of major search engines, has had a hearty response.
While the Weitzes agree online shopping may have encroached on phone sales, its user-friendly site has reached a more diverse clientele while providing an around-the-clock, at-your-fingertips outlet to sales.
The site offers users both wish-list and gift-registry options, as well as e-mailed promotions and links to some of the world’s most luxurious destinations, including spas, safaris, fishing expeditions and golf retreats.