Yonkus Family Bands Together to Make Ring Shopping a Memorable Experience

You are on eastlansinginfo.org, ELi's old domain, which is now an archive of news (as of early April, 2020). If you are looking for the latest news, go to eastlansinginfo.news and update your bookmarks accordingly!


Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 4:10 pm
Sarah Spohn

Goldsmith Tom Awrey works on a piece of custom jewelry at Sundance Jewelers, 330 Albert Ave. (ELi file photos by Raymond Holt)

Jewelry stores can be intimidating. Especially when selecting a wedding band. The third-generation business, Sundance Jewelers, hopes their casual approach and down-to-earth atmosphere makes customers feel at ease, and in good hands.

For their latest event, Bands and Brews (Custom Band Event), Sundance Jewelers is inviting customers to shop for their custom wedding bands, while sipping beer and wine from Burgdorf’s Winery. Bands & Brews is happening all week at the downtown East Lansing business, 330 Albert Ave., through Saturday.

The downtown East Lansing business has operated under the same ownership since 1973. For Betty, Bill Jr., and Audrey Yonkus (all co-managers/co-owners) keeping familiar faces happy is just as important as meeting and getting to work with new customers.

“We’ve been through a lot of stuff with changes, economic cycles, and whatnot in East Lansing—but we’ve dedicated ourselves to customer service,” Bill Jr. said. “We’re trying to provide a good value for the people, and developing relationships with customers—we’re working with second- and third-generation people at this point.”

For the bands and brews event (wedding bands, not live music from bands), they’re expecting to see more generations of families through the doors. “We do a lot of bridal stuff, we’ve done engagement rings for people whose grandparents shopped here in the seventies,” Bill Jr. said.

Audrey spoke about the event’s offerings, including custom options from Lashbrook Designs, a Utah-based jewelry company.

“We work with a company that does some really unique designs, and uses a lot of alternative metals. We’re kind of taking this opportunity to show everybody,” she said.

Lashbrook Designs has received 25 international design awards for its use of exotic woods and diamonds, which are ethically sourced. They were also one of the first U.S. companies to make and distribute titanium wedding bands, the first to launch a Carbon Fiber wedding band line, and Damascus Steel wedding band line.

Sundance co-owner Betty Yonkus.

The combinations of unique custom jewelry are nearly endless. While many people come into the store with an Instagram picture of a ring they think they’d like, the Yonkus family prides itself on providing expertise to ensure the perfect material is used for each customer’s lifestyle.

“We’re pretty knowledgeable on how things are going to wear, and the durability and practicality of different materials. Somebody can have a conversation with somebody that has a bit of expertise rather than pointing, clicking, and hoping for the best,” Bill Jr. said.

Simplify the ring shopping experience

Part of the bands and brews event is also designed to simplify the process for buyers, which can be overwhelming, especially to those who don’t regularly frequent jewelry stores, or shop for rings.

“We try to break it down as easily as possible,” Audrey said, “where we separate the widths, and types of metals, the types of metals, and profiles, and finishes to really make it as easy of a process as possible—and as hands-on.”

The trend of men wanting to be more involved in the wedding band shopping process is one Bill Jr. has noticed over the past few years.

“The women’s bridal, as far as engagement and bridal, has always been an area of creativity, diversity, and different styling,” he said. “The men would come in, and just go, ‘Give me the vanilla. I want one of those gold half-rounded rings like my dad and my grandpa wore.’ Now we’re doing rose gold, and a lot of alternative metals, woods, meteorite, and all kinds of things.”

Both agree the event is more to just invite people into the store, regardless if they’re ring shopping—and to see all the bands they have to offer, but also jewelry cleaning and resizing.

Ultimately, Sundance’s goal is to keep their down-to-earth, trusty relationships with customers—both old and new. It’s the East Lansing community that has been their home for the last four decades, and has no plans of changing that anytime soon. They have even noticed an uptick in sales over the past six to eight months in their Albert Avenue location from where they were previously on Grand River Avenue (where the Target store now stands).

“We’ve got a pretty long term agreement here, our plans are to be here—and I’m pretty optimistic really,” Bill Jr. said. “I know this world is changing, but I still think a town needs a jeweler.”

eastlansinginfo.org © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info