Letter To The Editor: Jewelry Store Goes Above & Beyond To Serve LGBT Community
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As a recently engaged lesbian, and Richmond native, I’m compelled to write to GAYRVA.COM about my experience about the true “Gem” located in the near west end, Adolf’s Jewelers. First I need to be clear; I am not an employee, no family member or even friend of mine works there. However, having collaborated as a consumer with this small, local business with a history of over 50 years, I feel like I am not doing justice to Richmond’s LGBT community by not shouting from the rooftops “Spend Your Money HERE!”
My first experience with Adolf’s was not even as a customer. I was attending Richmond’s “Fun For a Cause” event in 2011 where I threw down a few bucks towards a raffle who’s prize was donated by Adolf’s Jeweler. I remember being a little shocked because I thought it was an older company and made the unfair assumption that that meant it would be too “conservative” to want their name associated with the GLBT community. I didn’t win the raffle, but I thought it pretty exemplary that with all of the events in town that a jewelry store could allocate “charity” towards, the Fan Free Clinic’s fundraiser was deemed worthy by Adolf’s and made a mental note that I would have to check them out for my next jewelry purchase.
A little less than year later my partner and I started seriously discussing marriage, and needing to get a sense of what her “style” was, Adolf’s was my first stop to just “look” at rings. Anyone who has planned a same-sex wedding in Richmond could probably attest to the fear of judgment or confused looks by sales staff however we were greeted by Tammy with a warm smile and the most dedicated attitude towards customer service I have ever had with ANY major purchase. She never asked the awkward question of “where is the groom?” or even blinked at the idea that TWO engagement rings were needed. She worked with each of us individually over the next few months as we each bought the “perfect” ring and never once made either of us feel like our journey towards a life together was anything outside of a beautiful endeavor. We agreed that when it came time to look at wedding bands, we would be repeat customers.
We stopped into Adolf’s the Tuesday after Labor Day, needing to inquire about our ring appraisals. The home-owners insurance company would not put both rings under the policy because only one of us is “the home owner” and wanting to avoid having my partner take out a separate policy I wanted to ask what it would cost to have my ring (which was originally appraised with my partner’s name), appraised in mine. Tammy greeted us like old friends, and went to the back to find out about the appraisal. As my partner and I poked around the store looking at the wedding bands we liked, Tammy came back with Ronnie Adolf, the store’s owner. Having complete understanding and sympathy for the situation Ronnie switched the appraisal for us, at no charge.
Ronnie then disclosed that he’d recently come back from a trade show in Chicago, and was elated that Adolf’s will be carrying designer Rony Tennenbaum’s jewelry. To fully appreciate what a big deal this is, check out the website (www.ronytennenbaum.com). Rony Tennenbaum is a premier mission driven designer, dedicated to marriage equality and anti-bullying.
Ronnie Adolf told us the story about how he came across Tennenbaum’s jewelry, and what prompted him to approach the designer – an ad with two men kissing. That advertisement campaign was the first in a series of three that Tennenbaum produced –the second was of two women kissing, the third had two men, two women and a straight couple all on the same page. Here is the kicker: Adolf was the only retailer anywhere that responded to that first ad – all other retailers had responded to the more universally focused third. Ronnie Adolf went on to tell us that this was all so new the display was not even up, but wanted us to know it was there before we made our final decisions on a wedding band.
I explained to him that Tammy already made us feel like there was nothing abnormal about our situation, but shared some of the awkward experiences some friends had at OTHER retailers – and he seemed horrified! I went on to explain that little things like adopting the gender neutral word “partner” across the board is one very simple and effective thing that would make any couple feel legitimized and he was quick to excitement over the impact that could have on his customers.
People do trust word of mouth – and my firsthand experience with the sincerity of this family-owned business is one worth sharing with the whole community.
With Christmas coming up and then wedding season shortly following thereafter, the GLBT community needs to be supporting businesses that support them – not just in advertisement, not just in charitable donations, but in human interactions.
It just so happens that Adolf Jewelers does all three! They are located at Ridge Shopping Center, 1537 N Parham Road Richmond, Virginia 23229.
Join us as we raise a glass to #MarriageEquality.April 16, 2015
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