Motorists on Tampa's Westshore Boulevard are apt to do a double-take when they see Continental Wholesale Diamond's “Wife Insurance” billboard next to the sign for Thee Dollhouse advertising “2-4-1 drinks and dances” during happy hour.
The billboard's placement and message aren't a coincidence.
“It was absolutely intentional,” says Continental owner Andrew Meyer. “We wanted to be funny and entertaining. It was intended to get a chuckle.”
Meyer and business partner Joy Pierson opened a jewelry store at 1715 N. Westshore Blvd., a short distance from the billboard. They adopted the Continental name following last year's closing of Continental Jewelers, a 35-year-old Tampa store they helped liquidate.
Meyer and Pierson chose the billboard to inform that store's former customers of their location.
“We need to do things that are noticeable, a little different than what standard jewelers in town are doing,” says Meyer, a third-generation jeweler whose company, Andrew Meyer Design, sold to the former Continental.
The idea of using “Wife Insurance” was Meyer's idea.
“It came to me as soon as I saw the Dollhouse sign,” he says.
The sign appears to be doing its job and driving foot traffic to the store on the first floor of Westshore Center.
Continental Wholesale Diamonds made the news in April after Miriam Tucker swallowed a 1.03-carat diamond along with the champagne in her glass. The jeweler had donated the diamond to the Tampa Woman's Club's fashion show. All the other glasses contained a cubic zirconia.
A physician eventually removed the diamond after Tucker admitted she'd swallowed the stone in her flute, but news of the event landed her an invitation to the “Late Show with David Letterman” to tell the tale.
In Meyer's 40 years as a jeweler, he says he's heard it all.
“Most are good love stories about romance,” he says. “Now and then it gets hysterical.”
One time, Meyer's store was to blame for the mishap. It sent a written appraisal on a pair of diamond earrings to the buyer's house. Turns out, the earrings were for the buyer's girlfriend, not his wife.
The irate buyer showed up at the store demanding help, Meyer says. The jeweler sold an identical pair of earrings to him for his wife.
“I tell all the guys on the golf course I can get them out of trouble,” Meyer says.