Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography & courtesy of Wimmer’s Diamonds
Diamonds might be forever, but so, too, is change. Aaron Wimmer, the fourth-generation heir to the Wimmer’s Diamonds throne, is embracing that most constant of constants as he prepares to usher in a new era at the nearly century-old Fargo jewelry business.
He recently shared with us some bits of wisdom he’s picked up in his seven-plus years in the industry and how they inform the direction he wants to take Wimmer’s.
What I know about: Longevity
Adaptability is the lifeblood of business…
Aaron Wimmer: “Being in business 97 years, one would think the groundwork has been laid and you just pop in, start working and there’s not much to do. To continue the legacy of the business, though, it’s highly important to adapt and grow and change with the changing business atmosphere. Right now, for example, it’s about the experience Millennials want when buying anything.”
A strong reputation spans generations…
AW: “We have a lot of clients whose parents have come to us for engagement rings and purchased them through my grandfather or great uncle. Then, they purchased their rings and now their children are coming to us.
“I think that’s important to people when making a decision on where they want to purchase something special. Sometimes I take that history and longevity for granted, and while I am looking more toward the future than the past, the past is very important, too.”
Family businesses still play a vital role in a community…
AW: “We’ve been around for nearly 100 years now, and that’s kind of a thing of the past. You see a lot of mom-and-pop shops getting pushed out of the way by corporations, chains, that sort of thing.
“I feel like a family-owned business can create and maintain more personal relationships, not only within our business with customers and employees but within the entire community as well. That’s how we have survived is by being involved in the community, supporting the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area and giving back. They supported our start so we want to contribute by improving the future.”
What I know about: The next generation of buyers
When it comes to jewelry, online is for browsing…
AW: “You can look at pictures of jewelry all day long, but that doesn’t mean once you get the real, live thing on your finger that you’ll even like it. That’s why starting your experience off by looking online and seeing what styles catch your eye and then coming into the store to physically play around and try things on is very important. There aren’t many people who buy jewelry sight unseen.”
Shopping is more than a transaction…
AW: “No matter what age they are, people want a shopping experience in a brick-and-mortar store. They still prefer the relationship and the trust that you can build in actually speaking to a person. And it’s not too often that you get to sit down and talk to the owner of a company when buying a diamond, engagement ring or another piece of jewelry.
“You build that face-to-face relationship, and hopefully they come back for future purchases down the road when they’re a little more established.”
Customers are more prepared than ever…
AW: “The biggest change we’ve seen in business is that people are now looking at reviews and researching a lot more than they ever used to. They almost always look at Pinterest or a website before actually walking into a store.
“That’s why we do our best to reach shoppers through our website and social channels on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.”
Wimmer says that while he has a number of long-term plans for the business, one of his more immediate goals is to bring the Wimmer’s aesthetic into 2016:
“From the interior to the exterior, right now, our stores don’t reflect my vision. I want them
to feel more fresh and contemporary, with both the product we carry, as well as the look, feel, and experience customers get looking at or walking into our store.
“For instance, I would like to get rid of the window- display cases out front and open our store up so you can really see in and see what’s happening. What’s nice is that myself, my dad, and my uncle all have the same vision in the sense that we want the business to be successful and to continue. And it’s nice they know that, in order to continue, we need to change and grow.”
What I know about: Relationship and sales
I listen but mostly I watch…
AW: “When I’m doing a showing and the customer and I are in the beginning stages of them looking for a ring, I don’t just listen to what they’re saying. I watch her face and her reaction and I know exactly what ring she has fallen in love with when she tries it on. I know when she’s found the one. I can tell.”
Trust is timeless…
AW: “Products and styles change, but making somebody gain trust in you and making them understand that we’re always there for them—through the good and the bad—is something that will never go away.”
There’s a misconception about diamonds…
AW: “A luxury good doesn’t have to be expensive. There’s no rulebook to tell you what to spend on an engagement ring. It’s more important to me that a client gets something at a price point that’s comfortable for them at that time in their life. And that’s different for everybody.”
“Our customers put great trust in us to find or create the perfect piece for them. Together, we’re a part of some of life’s most memorable moments, and I’m lucky I get to do that each day.”
A yearly excursion
Every year for 36 years, representatives from Wimmer’s have made a week-long trip to Antwerp, Belgium—the diamond capital of the world—and hand-selected loose diamonds directly from diamond-cutters themselves.
“It’s a chance for us to personally pick out diamonds for specific customers and inventory— earrings, necklaces, engagement rings,” Wimmer says. “It also allows us to pass on some savings to our clients.
“It’s not just about the price, though. It adds a very romantic, unique story behind your diamond that says, ‘This diamond was hand-selected for me in Antwerp.'”
Aaron Wimmer, Co-owner Wimmer’s Diamonds
After graduating from college, Wimmer spent five years working in the Twin Cities restaurant industry before moving back to Fargo to work in the family business. He says the motivation for his return was a realization that Fargo was becoming a “fun, vibrant place to be.”
602 Main Ave., Fargo
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