Work of Love: Family finds fulfillment in Cullman jewelry store

Doug Doggett, right, owns Doug Doggett Jewelry in Cullman, but says his daughters, Kim Doggett Odom, left, and Deanna Doggett Millican, center, are the heart of the business.

Even though his name is on the building, Doug Doggett proudly motions to his daughters, Deanna and Kim, when you ask him about his jewelry store.

“They’re the ones you need to talk to,” he said. “Kimberly has been working here since the beginning, when she was just in high school. And even though Deanna was only 4 when we opened up, she’d come up here and start answering the phones, if we weren’t careful,” he said with his distinctive big laugh.

“I thought I could do it all,” Deanna added, prompting another laugh from the close-knit family members.

Doug, who founded and owns Doug Doggett Jewelers in Cullman, says getting to work with his daughters every day is one of his biggest blessings. Another has been the chance to get up every morning and do a job he loves.

“I started with no more than a dream. And I didn’t have enough sense to know that it was hard to start a business on 100 percent borrowed money. But the good Lord was looking after us,” Doug said. “And after all these years, I’ve never regretted that decision.”

Forty years ago, Doug and his family lived in Decatur, and he was working in medical sales. His brother-in-law, Jimmy Smith, who owns Jimmy Smith Jewelers, asked Doug to come help him in his store a couple nights a week.

“I decided to do it, and absolutely fell in love with it. I’d even take two weeks’ vacation around Christmas and spend that time working in his store. After a while, Jimmy said, ‘Doug, you need to think about doing this full time.’ And I thought I’d really like that too,” Doug remembered.

In 1981, Doug took Jimmy’s advice and opened Doug Doggett Jewelers about 30 miles down the road in Cullman, a town Jimmy suggested as a good place to open a jewelry store. Nearly four decades later, Doug Doggett Jewelers is a fixture in the city of Cullman. In fact, the local newspaper just named the business “Cullman’s Best Jewelry Store” for the 20th time. The distinction is earned by winning the most votes from residents in a community poll.

Deanna is also Cullman’s only Graduate Gemologist, meaning she can serve their customers with the highest level of education in gold, precious metals, diamonds and gemstones. Kim is just a few classes away from the title herself. Aside from the family oriented customer service they’re known for, the family behind Doug Doggett Jewelers takes pride in giving back to the community.

“We love Cullman,” said Deanna. “Our kids go to school here, so it’s important for us to give as much as we can. We try to make sure our customers understand that when you shop with us, and when you shop local, it allows us and other businesses to be able to give.”

On the heels of a busy holiday season, Doug says February is their next busiest time of the year.

“I can remember years ago, we used to say we’d just leave it up to the flower people and the candy people on Valentine’s Day. But now it’s our second biggest season of the year, and we have to spend a good bit of time getting ready for it.”

Deanna says part of the reason is that the jewelry business has evolved over time. At one time, their store only carried fine jewelry, but now it has a large selection of bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings at all price points.

“Someone can come in with a $50 budget or a $5,000 budget and be able walk out with something they are proud to give,” she explained. “Jewelry is an emotional gift that can be handed down. That’s why I believe we get so busy this time of year.”

“We want the person who receives our jewelry as a gift to love it,” said Kim. “Because if she loves it, she’s going to tell everyone where it came from.”

Visit Doug Doggett Jewelers at 215 Compass Way SW in Cullman Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Story and Photos by Melissa Johnson Warnke

This article also appeared in the February 2018 edition of the Alabama Retailer magazine.