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The Marrying Type

Hawaii bridal jewelers' store even looks like an engagement ring.

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The Wedding Ring Shop, Honolulu, HI

URL: weddingringshop.com; OWNER: Mike and Becki Han; FOUNDED: 1987; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2007; LAST RENOVATED: 2012; ARCHITECT: Peter Vincent & Associates; AREA: 7,000 square feet; EMPLOYEES: 21; TOP BRANDS: Hearts On Fire, Tacori, Kirk Kara, Michael M., Christian Bauer; YELP RATING: 4 Stars on Yelp; FACEBOOK: 4,683 likes; ALEXA GLOBAL RANK: 2.65 million


THE WEDDING RING SHOP even looks like an engagement ring. Wide glass panes suggesting a cushion-cut diamond wrap around its front. The buff stone façade sweeps back on the sides like a bezel setting.

That’s exactly what owners Mike and Becki Han, and their architects, Peter Vincent & Associates, wanted when they began designing the new building in 2005. For 27 years, The Wedding Ring Shop has claimed the niche of nuptial jewelry as 90 percent of its entire business — rings pendants, bracelets, earrings and bridal party and anniversary gifts — and works with customers to hand-select diamonds for settings. It carries 40 suppliers and has six custom designers, one of them in-house, for the customer who wants something completely individual.

The 7,000 square-foot store holds boutique spaces on its first level, where gently rounded cabinetry dominates. Crescent stainless steel-and-dark wood cases frame oyster-tone shelves of one “diamond bar”; soft blue shelves set off the circular Hearts On Fire display, and electric blue, the Tacori counters.

Despite the fact the building is not yet eight years old, these came from a 2012 remodeling. “We expanded our showroom. We bought all new showcases, new custom wood design, and installed really plush carpeting,” Mike Han says. “I think five years is a good time for a refresh. Change out your surfaces and finishes, something to make people notice a difference.”

Then, of course, Instagram it, they’d advise. The Wedding Ring Shop uses social media extensively over print and broadcast. Even magazine advertising is generally limited to where there’s editorial content. It advertises on radio stations aimed at the young-adult demographic. “We concentrate on where our customer age group is,” Han emphasizes.

The showroom has a glass wall showcasing its service and design area; on the second floor there are administrative offices, and on the third, an employee lunchroom — an important component.

“One of our best times for people to share ideas is in our lunchroom. That’s not just about business, but life in general,” Han says. “Because administrators get to know employees and what’s going on in each others’ lives, they help each other.”

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“We do have a lot of meetings to engage people, too,” Han says. “I have a one-on-one meeting with my direct reports every week. There are team meetings every week. And there are special meetings,” such as if a supplier is coming to the store.

The Wedding Ring Shop serves all eight Hawaiian islands, and considers itself a local store.

“Typically, tourists don’t buy here. They buy the ring in their home town, and that’s the way it should be,” Han says. Still, the store has had calls, he concedes, from people who are heading to Honolulu and want to buy.

Oahu means “gathering place” in Hawaiian, and outer island residents, who make up 30 percent of Hawaii’s 1.4 million people, come to its main city, Honolulu, for special events. The store stays in touch with its far-flung customers through a strong customer relationship management program. Part of the mix: Birthdays and anniversaries, perhaps a reminder for jewelry cleaning or of its full-price trade-up credit for diamonds purchased there. The store’s own diamonds are graded by Becki Han herself, who’s a gemologist.

Among its promotions, an “If it rains, your purchase is free!” ad offered buyers on certain dates a full refund if there’s more than 2 inches of rain on Christmas Day.

With Yelp as cosponsor, the store held a Sparkle Soiree for the online review site’s Elite Squad. Yelp is widely followed in Hawaii, explains Michelle Koo, marketing coordinator.

“It was a chance for us to tap into a different data base. These are generally young professionals from 18 to 35, which is our market,” says Koo, who asked participants to come in white to show off its new Tacori collection. There were sushi, sweets and swag, all splashed on Facebook.

Customers are the store’s best advertisements online, pointing out details they appreciate, such as its free under-cover parking and that buyers can set appointments to ensure they work with that sales associate who got such raves. Its employees are a great advertisement as well. Knowing Mike Han would not return from a trip in time to enter INSTORE’s Coolest Stores competition, his staff submitted the application — and told him after he returned.

“Everything the owners do creates the culture and values here. They have really modeled it for us,” says Jennifer Koos, the Wedding Ring Shop operations manager who sent in the application.

PHOTO GALLERY (6 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About The Wedding Ring Shop

1. WHEN EMPLOYEES SPEAK, MANAGERS.  During his 15 years in chain stores, Mike Han saw veterans who weren’t given respect. “I always felt there’s so much discretionary effort that can be brought to a company. If you give respect to someone and support them, and give them a good program and process” they’re happier workers.

2. IT HAS ITS OWN SPARKLE. Its architecture won a 2008 National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Honolulu chapter, award. It won Honolulu magazine’s 2014 Best Jewelry Store award and was among Hawaii Business magazine’s Best Places to Work, small business, in 2012. On a customer level, what’s more exciting than buying your diamond in the shadow of Diamond Head?

3. IT’S A YELPER. TSales representatives ask their customers to comment about their experience in Yelp, and respond to comments online. There are occasional blisters, and sales associates even respond to those, with an apology or a promise of a phone follow-up. Tales of happy experiences far outweigh the complaints, however.

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4. IT LOVES TO SMILE. The store snaps photos of happy engaged and newly married couples with their rings and from parties such as its Sparkle Soirée and its Tacori Collection opening for Facebook.

5. CUSTOMERS GET A FRIEND HERE. Education and relationships are primary. Clients get a course on the four Cs of diamond quality to help them choose the best value. Sales Force customer relations management software reminds the staff of key customer dates. “That’s our culture: client follow-up and touches,” Han says.

Try This

Cross-pollinate your social media, as the Wedding Ring Shop does. Offer Facebook followers a sneak peek at a new collection on Instagram or Pinterest to collect more followers there. Add all the hashtags you can conjure, as well as tagging the bride’s and groom’s photo so it will go to them, and doubtlessly, their followers.

 

JUDGES’ COMMENTS

Heather Hanst:  It’s always inspiring to read about a family-run business that has been successful and growing for over 20 years. The Wedding Ring Shop’s dedication to its employees is clearly at the heart of their mission — from rewards and recognition for staffers to gratitude cards passed among the team regularly. It’s no wonder they’ve been voted one of Hawaii’s Best Places to Work several times.

Natalie Bos: What makes Wedding Ring Shop cool is how much it cares about its employees. Companies often forget how important it is to keep their staff happy and healthy, and WRS has gone above and beyond with all the fun perks that come with working there.

David Brown: At last, a business the puts its employees ahead of it customers in the firm and accurate belief that you can’t have a customer culture until you have a team culture or organizational health.

Bob Phibbs: I appreciate the lack of distractions in this store. The wedding rings and jewelry are the stars. The blue cases add interest and the big sign across the back is the perfect backdrop for happy customer pics.

Danny Clark: That huge glass tower and the clarity of that name: The Wedding Ring Shop leaves no doubt where you should stop and buy your ring.

Andrea Hill: The company culture is cool cool cool. They embrace the Hawaiian concept of ohana (family) as essential to their work culture, and I’m sure their customers feel the positivity and promise of being in a caring environment.

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