Like the rest of us stuck in quarantine during the pandemic, Usher Klein was bored. So, in Israel at Yeshivat Shaarei Mevaseret Zion, he decided to try selling watches online and once he started, he couldn’t stop. Soon, Giovanni and Associates was born. “Some people like collecting; I get a kick out of buying and selling,” Klein explained. Potential customers text him their budget and what they are looking for and Klein takes care of the rest, even sometimes personally dropping off the watch. While buying and selling watches is his business, customer service is his number one priority. Watches are expensive, and chosson watches are forever pieces, so Klein understands the need to get it right.
It started small, he said, in order to make sure he could handle it, but once he noticed a great demand, he began to close bigger deals and expand his customer base. Klein plans to focus primarily on chosson watches, hoping to be the Jewish community’s “chosson watch guy.”
“[You’re] ultimately buying the seller,” Klein clarified. Researching the seller by putting out reference checks and confirming their credibility is the most essential part of buying luxury goods. This goes not only for Klein’s sellers, but also for himself: he knows people are wary of buying such expensive pieces from someone so young, but Klein pushes through the stigma by making solid deals and ensuring continued success for every customer. “Good business is good business no matter how old you are,” Klein said.
Klein knew there would be difficulties in starting a new business, especially at the young age of 20, but he explained, “I keep a list of mistakes to keep myself in check.” Sometimes people back out of deals, or other unexpected things come up, so Klein makes sure he is constantly doing proper due diligence during the process. Last year, a chosson watch shipment was delayed, so the day before the customer’s wedding, Klein described, “I shlepped out to Staten Island in rush hour traffic” so that the chosson would have his watch on time.
He makes sure to stay up to date with current buying and selling trends by checking various Facebook dealer groups, Hodinkee—a watch e-commerce site and “the ESPN for watches,” as Klein put it—as well as asking jewelers on 47th street for help.
On the customer-facing side of the business, Klein enlisted his best friend Yehuda Schwartz for help. “I’m not a very outgoing guy, so he’s [the extroverted one] for the company,” Klein explained. Schwartz helps with social media as well, since Klein is not on Instagram. Schwartz set up the business’s account, @watchesbygiovanni, and helps with the day-to-day running of the business, too.
As a watch seller, marathon runner and learner, Klein manages to do it all. “I like keeping busy; You can always find time for things,” he emphasized. Just last week he closed two deals on an eight-mile run. Klein plans on continuing the watch business as a hobby and hopes to go into real estate in the future. While this may seem like a lot to handle for some, Klein loves the process of hunting for a good deal, explaining, “I enjoy the hock, I enjoy the hustle.”
Usher Klein graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2022 and currently learns at Heichal HaTorah’s Beis Medrash program.
Etta Feuer is a rising sophomore at Hunter College and a Jewish Link summer intern.