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Peoria and Bloomington, IL--When Ronda Daily, president of Bremer Jewelry, a two-store jewelry company based in central Illinois, says, “Our business is based on family,” she’s not kidding. Her staff of 30 are her family, and her husband Craig (vice-president) and daughter Ashley (marketing) are part of that total. “We have fantastic employees and we like to believe that we make them feel like family and so they act like family with our guests. It’s a fun atmosphere for the shopper.” At Bremer Jewelry, the family members really do refer to their customers as ‘guests.’

“We do that on purpose,” says Daily. “Both my stores are an extension of my home. We try to treat everyone like they are a guest.  If we are a family, this (the store) is our home.” This concept isn’t just a theory at Bremer’s.  She carries it through to the décor. “I use the same colors in my business than I do in my home,” says Daily. “They both share the same reds, taupes and browns.

Daily credits her staff with the stable environment at Bremer. They have a low turnover, with one employee who has been around since 1984. “He’s the lead goldsmith; he joined us when he was in college. The staff has almost 400 years of experience between us. The average length of employment is around 10 years. When I hand out service awards annually, I see lots of 10 and 15 year tenures.”

The interior of Bremer's Bloomington store, done in reds, taupes, and browns. The store's exterior is pictured at top left of the page.

In Central Illinois, Bremer Jewelry is ‘where Central Illinois gets engaged.’ The two stores are in Peoria and Bloomington. “The stores are 50 miles apart. We are Central Illinois,” says Daily. She estimates a 150 radius for her market area. To support this, Bremer’s has its own brand of bridal jewelry and also carries a number of well-known bridal vendors to round out the merchandise mix including Tacori, Hearts On Fire, Simon G., Martin Flyer, A. Jaffe and BeLoved by Bremer Jewelry.

Exterior of the Peoria store, with Bremer's tagline.

“It’s our own brand,” says Daily. “Our team came up with the brand name. It’s ‘Be Loved’ by Bremer Jewelry; because everyone deserves to be loved.  Each collection within the brand comes with a little card explaining the thoughts behind them. For instance, the micro-pave collection is called ‘glamorous.’ What girl doesn’t want to think she’s glamorous, if she likes pave’?  We work closely with the manufacturer and designers to ensure that each collection has good representation,” says Daily. 

Along with an extensive bridal department, Bremer Jewelry also carries watches and fashion jewelry: Tag Heuer and Philip Stein for watches. Tacori, Pandora, Elle and Charles Garnier for fashion jewelry, to name a few. “When you walk in our stores, one entire side is fashion jewelry,” says Daily. “It’s for the woman self-purchaser and in a price point that women will want to buy and wear.”  Of course, Daily also has higher price points for the women self-purchaser  and gift givers including fashion designs from Simon G. and Hearts on Fire.

“We’re not trying to be everything to everyone,” says Daily. “We may have $99 price point that maybe anyone can afford. But it’s the best $99 product that I can find. It’s a quality issue with us.  It just has to be up to par.”
Daily admits to having a “healthy advertising budget,” to get the word out about Bremer Jewelry. “Our marketing is very broad based. We do some print including local magazines, a Pandora ad in a newspaper for an event, and some local college entertainment programs. We also do lots of outdoor digital boards, radio, direct mail and Facebook – we’re huge with Facebook,” she says. On Facebook, Bremer Jewelry clocks in with an impressive 5,302 ‘likes.’ “We do lots of work with Google ad words, and our website does well.  You have to be everywhere. You can’t say, I’ll just run TV this week; that’s just not going to work anymore.”
Daily spends some time managing e-commerce on her website. While she does sell on the web, once a guest places an order, he/she receives a phone call to consummate the order. “It’s so important for us to be able to touch our guests,” she says.

Bremer’s is also very event oriented. “We have virtually something every month,” says Daily. “Bridal events, diamond events, Pandora events, and Tacori or Simon G trunk shows. We’ve recently become a Forevermark retailer so we’re planning a “Center of my Universe” launch in Q4. We are physically busy in our stores. We do lots.”

The interior of the Peoria store.

Along with the Race for the Ring (which included an on-stage proposal from the winner), the other events at Bremer’s are fun, as well as often creatively named. To wit: Bollywood Nights, Little Black Dress, Spring Bling, Big Bridal Bash and Wedding Band Extravaganza.

Daily stays busy with both stores. “I have a general manager who goes back and forth.  I live between the two stores, and I spend some time in Bloomington but I do spend more time in the Peoria location. All my people are really good. I believe we put in the time, effort, training and money that it takes to build a great team.” Her secret to team success: “We do something that’s really important; weekly training every Friday. Sometimes it’s a vendor, sometimes an employee or manager does the training.  Great flow of information to and from the staff is the most important thing in our world.” She’s very systems oriented for the operations of both stores. “We have a huge advantage when it comes to our internal systems and processes.  My husband was a data architect for a large systems company in California before coming to join the team.  I think our team has the best information systems available to them for guest relations, and I feel grateful to have such talented people on the team.”

At the end of the day, “When you think about the Bremer jewelry, you think family, passion and relationships,” says Daily. “I feel very blessed I have my husband, my daughter and the staff that I have,” says Ronda. “Everyone brings it all every day. It makes my job so much easier.”

This is a small portion of Daily's 30 employees. The full ‘yearbook’ can be found on the Bremer Jewelry website in the ‘about us" section.

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