Small Business Profile: Big Smiles At UPEX & Bennett’s Fine Jewelry

Melanie Bennett behind the jewelry counter ready to serve customers.  Photo by Chris Clark/
Los Alamos Daily Post
Ernie and Melanie Bennett moved to Los Alamos in 1998 and started UPEX, formerly operated as LA Express.

“We saw a great community, great people, beautiful blue skies, green trees and a great, safe place for family,” Melanie said.

“We wanted to own and operate our own business and saw Los Alamos as an ideal place to do so. We just love the kick back, comfortable life style.”

The couple opened UPEX IN 1998 and Bennett’s Fine Jewelry in 2007.

“It was really hard when we first opened. Ernie worked one entire Saturday and had sales of 25 cents,” Melanie said. “But he was determined to make a go of the business.”

Ernie had been a former UPS manager and he spoke with UPS and FedEx about getting a later pick up in Los Alamos. Neither carrier thought that Los Alamos warranted a late pick up. So, Ernie personally drove air packages to the UPS center every night and to the FedEx Center every Saturday to Santa Fe or Albuquerque.

“UPEX has been honored by Los Alamos in being named the UPS Top Air Shipper and the FedEx top shipper over the course of our business,” Melanie said. 

Melanie and Ernie started Bennett’s Fine Jewelry by test marketing a few jewelry items in the UPEX store. They opened with a couple of jewelry cases in front of the UPEX counter to see if there was any interest from the community in having a jewelry store in the community.

“Thank goodness the response has been so positive,” she said. “Customers constantly remark about how nice it is to have a full feature jewelry store in town.”

Bennett’s employs three employees and one after school high school employee. Assistant Manager Yasmin Acosta has been with the company the longest and works in both businesses and provides “stellar customer service.”

What makes Bennett’s so special?

“UPEX at 108 Central Park Square and Bennett’s Fine Jewelry at 107 Central Park Square is a locally owned and operated business. We believe in treating people the way we like to be treated. We hope to continue to provide the services that the community has come to expect and rely on.”