Columnists Amy Minnick Hearne’s Fine Jewelry sports a new location and thriving second generation

Hearne’s Fine Jewelry sports a new location and thriving second generation

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In the small, sleepy seaside town of New Bern, North Carolina lives a ‘gem' of a jewelry store. With 4400 square feet of store, more ‘bling' that you can blink an eye at, and a reputation for going beyond (think way beyond) what their customers expect, Hearne's Fine Jewelry has become a city tradition. As a second generation family-owned business, Hearne's proudly serves second and third generation customers; blurring the line between business and friendship. Hearne's is the epitome of a small-town business done in a big way.

How it all started

Mickey Hearne first opened the doors to Hearne's Fine Jewelry on June 3, 1972 after spending 15 years working for other jewelers. Laura, his wife, joined him that same year as the two of them worked tirelessly to build the business. Mickey's strong work ethic quickly became recognized around town. As someone who never left the store, Mickey became the ‘go-to' jeweler of New Bern.

Mike Hearne, the youngest son of Mickey and Laura, recalls how his dad felt about the store: "The store was his life. My dad rarely, if ever, took vacation and was always at the store. He would've done anything for his customers."

As Hearne's Fine Jewelry grew so did Jimmy, Craig, and Mike, sons to Mickey and Laura. The boys, with ages spanning nine years, recall growing up running around the New Bern downtown area while their parents worked.

They had the privilege of watching their father and mother interact with customers, accommodating any request regardless of difficulty.

Hearnes-Nov
In 2007 Hearne's Jewelers realized their dream of moving in to a large freestanding store. Pictured are
employees, friends and family at the Grand Opening ceremony. The Hearne sons are wearing ties
in the middle (Mike on left, Jimmy on right) with their mother, Laura, between them.

"I remember my dad saying ‘If you take care of their requests they will always come back to purchase from you.' We've helped customers on our days off, tied anniversary bands to fishing tackle and have even sat down to dinner when we make home deliveries," recalls Mike.

In 1974 Jimmy, the oldest of three sons, joined the Hearne's team. He learned the business first hand from his parents and, for 15 years helped them run the downtown store. In 1989 the family decided to branch out and open a second Hearne's location in the Wal-Mart shopping complex.

Mike left college to join the business working with his brother. Both locations were flourishing but, as the years passed, the family longed to build a free-standing store that was easy to access and with plenty of parking - something the other Wal-Mart store didn't have.

Finally, in 1994, Hearne's made the decision to close the original downtown location. Laura went to work with the boys while Mickey enjoyed life, hobbies and grandchildren. Although he wasn't in the store every day, he was still very involved in the business. He really never left it completely.

"My dad passed away from cancer in 2001 and I miss him every day. Aside from being my father, he was such a smart business man and always seemed to have the perfect advice," recalls Mike.

In 2007 the family realized their dream to give their customers a really exceptional place to shop. The doors to the newly built, professionally decorated custom showroom in Hearne's first, free-standing building were finally opened. Their custom built Artco showcases and a large selection of name brand inventory are just a small part of the overall appeal of this new store. The ease with which customers can access the store, as well as a parking spot, are greatly improved, but the faces remain the same. The sparkling new store is one that benefits owners, employees and customers.

"We worked hard to build our new location. We started in 2005 and it took two years just to negotiate the price of the land. We broke ground in January of last year amid the economic downturn, but we survived. Now we have this tremendous store to show for it," states Mike. "And we've given our customers what they deserve - elegance and a wonderful shopping experience."

Today the Hearne brothers, along with their mother, carry on Mickey's business tradition; combining old-fashioned courtesy with integrity. They always focus on meeting customer needs, regardless of the difficulty and they are dedicated to their suppliers. "We really believe that maintaining strong relationships with the people we do business with inside the industry is one of the most important aspects of building a strong business," states Jimmy. "We still work with several of the sales people that called on my dad so long ago."

It takes one trip to Hearne's to see that the mother/sons trio enjoy what they are doing and plan to continue running the business until, possibly, a third generation is ready to take over.

"I guess we love what we do and it shows, because Hearne's was awarded Best Jeweler in our area for 10 years in a row," states Mike.

‘Courtesy with integrity' is the Hearne family motto, and as long as Jimmy and Mike (with Mom's help) are running the business it doesn't matter how hard they have to work, they will do what it takes to continue the successful business their father started so many years ago.

"Jimmy and I agree to work harder and earn less money so that we can survive and grow stronger," states Mike. "We love working with our mom and we will always put our best into it."

To find out more about Hearne's Jewelry check out their website at www.hearnesjewelry.com or give them a call at 252-637 2784.

 
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