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The next generation are running Main Street



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Kelli and Autumn Poulin outside the store that will soon be theirs, Greetings Jewelers. (Photo by Erik Eisele) (click for larger version)
August 19, 2009
BERLIN — In some cases, even the anchors on Main Street can be new once more.

As part of our continuing coverage of businesses and business people in Berlin, the Reporter is tracking down the people bringing new life to the city.

This week: Sisters by marriage, partners by choice — Autumn and Kelli Poulin.

If you've walked into Greetings Jewelers in the last 20 years there is a good chance you were greeted by an attractive, courteous woman named Poulin.

The only thing that has changed is the Poulin standing there greeting you.

Kelli Poulin, daughter-in-law to Greetings Jewelers original owner Sylvia Poulin, has been behind the counter for six years. Autumn Poulin, also Sylvia's daughter-in-law, has been there for almost a year.

Autumn, 30, and Kelli, 34, are the 21st century Greetings.

"We have a lot of good ideas we want to implement," Autumn said. "We bring a younger generation into the store."

The two are in the process of taking ownership of the store. The business, which has been in Berlin for two decades, proves the longevity possible in Berlin.

"We are an anchor and an example of what people can become," Kelli said. "We want to be here for 20 more years."

Both women took their time away from Berlin; Kelli to become an RN, and Autumn to study behavioral sciences. But both came back to have a family.

"For us the big thing is family," Kelli said. "Both of us have such a strong family background."

Their investment in family means that every Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving they'll be sitting across the table from their former boss and their business partner, but the women said they wouldn't have it any other way.

"We're like double trouble here," Kelli said. "She's stuck with me whether she wants me or not."

The two are used to each other. They've known each other through their husbands for 15 years, and when they had children they were back to back roommates in the hospital. They know they can work together, and they know they can't bring their work home with them at the end of the day.

The larger family they turn to are their customers.

"We do something special to draw people here," Autumn said.

"When people leave we want them to be happy," Kelli said. "Word travels fast. You need to be loyal to your customers. We're still here because of our repeat customers. Our customers know we will take care of them."

Customer loyalty is only part of the picture. The store has more than just high end jewelery.

"It's important for people to know we have something for every price-point," Autumn said.

The range of gifts has kept the business' doors open since the new owners were in high school.

Both women said it's important to complement the selection with the customer service people have come to expect from Greetings.

"I do a lot of what I did as a nurse," said Kelli. "The thing I enjoy most is people. I never left that, I just put it in another environment."

They hope the same things that have kept the business going in the past will work in the future. For Autumn, the last year has been a learning process, and not just for her.

"It's been a transition for my kids, it's been a transition for my husband," she said. "In the long run they are really going to benefit."

She said it's easier because she is learning from Kelli, someone she trusts. Kelli said she got the same thing because she learned from Sylvia.

The women hope their success continues, and that the business thrives for another 20 years.

"Until our sons get married and take on the store," Autumn said.

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