Woodard’s Closing Northgate Mall Location
Thursday, December 20, 2018
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Jim Woodard has been in the jewelry business since he was 16-years-old. Born and raised in Winchester, he’d worked at gas stations, local farms and grocery stores before he found his calling after taking a job at Jennings Jewelers in Tullahoma. He said it was then that he fell totally in love with the jewelry business.
“By the time I was 16, I already knew what hard work was about, and when I started working in jewelry, I just really enjoyed the people and serving customers, helping them pick things that were really cool, like engagement rings or birthday presents or anniversary gifts,” he said. “It was so cool to be able to help people find something special for someone.”
In 1991, Woodard bought the store from the Jennings family and changed the name—now, the Woodard family is preparing for another change.
“We’re moving to the new location so we can offer something bigger and better for our valued customers,” he said. “I have purchased a piece of property, and I’ve also got two or three locations that we are looking at, all in Tullahoma. We want something free-standing, probably about 4,500 square-feet or larger. We’re just looking to add more categories and services.”
Over the years, Woodard has made more than 30 trips to places such as Tel Aviv and Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world.
“My first trip was to Tel Aviv in 1979, and then about 1985 or so, I went to Belgium for the first time to select diamonds for the store,” he said. “We have brought back thousands of carats over the years. We buy diamonds today from diamond cutters in Israel, Russia, Mumbai—our diamonds can be sourced from around the world, and most all will flow through Antwerp.”
Woodard said one of his favorite parts about the business is getting to help someone choose a diamond that might become a family heirloom.
“The things that you purchase from the jewelry store have a pretty long shelf life, so when you give a diamond ring, that can be a gift for the next generation. Believe it or not, since I started in 1974, I’m now on the third generation of families coming in for engagement rings.”
Now at 60, he still credits his late mother, Mary Ruth Woodard, her hard-working nature and love of serving for all his years of success at Woodard’s Diamonds & Design.
“I learned my passion of serving from her—she was a kindergarten teacher and principal and she would always set a good example on serving others. She was a good role model for me to follow,” he said. “If the good Lord will let me have good health, I’ll work for 15 or 20 more years. I love what I do, so as long as I’ve got good health then I’ll be here.”
As part of the move, Woodard is holding a huge store closing and moving sale with up to 70 percent discounts on jewelry. Hours at the store have changed for the sale—Woodards Diamonds & Design is open until 7 p.m. each night, with Sunday, Dec. 23, being the last day of the season.