It’s fair to wonder if the old adage, "slow and steady wins the race," applies to the growth of a business.
According to Time After Time, a watch sales and repair shop in the , it does. In fact, that’s been the company’s entire approach that has helped it to steadily grow for more than 21 years.
“We don’t go into malls, try them out for a little while and leave. Every mall that we’ve been in, I don’t believe that we’ve ever closed a store,” said Mark Pliner, executive vice president of store operations with Time After Time. “It’s not the irresponsible growth of wherever there’s an opening, we take it. It’s well-thought out, it’s well-planned and it’s the right market for what we do. We want to be able to provide that service properly.”
That’s why, despite being around for more than two decades, the company only has 11 stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with the opening of its Bridgewater location last month. Pliner said the Bridgewater store is the northernmost location of Time After Time to date, with other locations mainly centralized around the Philadelphia area, which is home to Derek Koss, owner of Time After Time.
According to Pliner, the opportunity to open a store in the Bridgewater Commons Mall came at the perfect time, which is the reason why the company decided to jump on it.
“You always want to be in a Bridgewater, but it doesn’t always work out that you can just open up in a Bridgewater. You don’t say, ‘I’m going to be here,’ and then you’re here,” Pliner said. “The mall has to be willing. It has to be the right terms, it has to be the right economic environment."
"All of those things do have to align to do that and do it effectively," he added. "We’ve never entered into a marketplace where we’ve felt that we were incapable of delivering the service that our customers have become accustomed to and where we have been.”
So far, it would seem that Time After Time’s customers would agree.
“People do say to us—and this isn’t a knock on our predecessors at the mall—‘what took you so long to have a store here?’ that has the mix of product and customer service that we provide,” Pliner said. “That’s been the biggest question.”
As for products, Time After Time prides itself on its selection—and on the fact that it has an accomplished watchmaker on staff for custom items.
“They love the mix of products that we have. We can go from our $19.95 Timex watches and the everyday stuff that people still want and need, up to $2,500, $3,000-plus watches,” Pliner said. “We have them on-site and easily attainable for our customers.”
Pliner said there is also a market for those affected by the economy, who may not be able to afford those high-end timepieces.
“There’s a large segment of the population that as the economy beat them up a little bit, it wasn’t so easy for them to say, ‘I’m going to go buy dad a new watch.’ What they can say is, ‘I’d love to get dad’s favorite watch repaired,’” he said. “For us, that did help us, certainly, to stay afloat, and our service is a huge part of our business. Everything counts and everything builds up, so when that customer who can trust us to work on their watch is ready for a new piece, they come back to us.”
Combined, the store’s business model, selection and customer service have contributed to very positive early returns for Time After Time in Bridgewater, and Pliner believes that there is nowhere to go but up.
“Our plan is to be here forever,” Pliner said. “We’ve been here for about a month now, and I expect that we’ll be here until the end of time.”