Place of Worship | O.C. Tanner
At cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, we glorify good architecture. We exalt good design. We sing the praises of good business. But really, the sum of what we love is beauty. Beautiful people, beautiful spaces, inside and out. And whenever we can, we marry those things (call us spatial matchmakers, property consultants, house therapists…we’ve heard ‘em all). Due to our affinity for good people, places, and things, it should come as no surprise that we’ve long since had our COLLECTIVE eye on Utah jewelers O.C. Tanner. As a business owner, I have always been fascinated with how other folks do it, and I crave hearing success stories of those who have done it right. Obert C. Tanner didn’t just start a jewelry store–oh, no. Though the focus of this particular piece is, in fact, the structural masterpiece in which the SLC jewelry shop resides, it’s certainly worth noting that the business model for O.C. Tanner is remarkable in its own right. The Tanner model is based on recognizing and rewarding employees all over the world. It’s a forward thinking, good vibes/better people, not just feel-good but feel-great company (and it just so happens to specialize in selling the highest-end, holy-shit jewelry and timepieces). True story: I remember going with my mom to drop my 16-year-old sister off to work at OC Tanner when I was just four years old. She still works there (how’s that for employee retention?) Years later, I would sit down with a dear friend (and client) and wax philosophical about good style, good business, and why she loves her job at O.C. Tanner. And suddenly I was the four year old in the car–face pressed against the glass in wonder, and maybe a twinge of jealousy–all over again. O.C. Tanner was quickly becoming an obsession. The employee recognition and rewards programs that they help companies implement are, quite simply, exquisite. Picture the possibilities: rather than getting a pat on the back for your 10-year employee anniversary, you get a slap on the wrist. With, say, a Rolex. What does this have to do with architecture? Only everything.
We believe the best ideas deserve to be cultivated in the best of spaces. We believe our friends, family, and clients deserve the prettiest locales to call “the office.” We believe these folks, along with their stunning wares–whatever they may be–deserve to be put on display and shown off. We wholeheartedly respect those that invest in their surroundings for the betterment of home, ‘hood, and city, and this company has done a damn fine job. When they took on the renovation of the old planetarium on State Street and South Temple (where O.C. Tanner Jewelers now stands, just next to our friends at the Alta Club), there was a communal sigh of relief. We knew if any company was going to do this restorative renovation right, it would be O.C. Tanner. Their headquarters would remain just down State Street, but their specialized retail space would become a shining example of how good business–with a vision for the future and a respect for the past–can hunker down and commit to the importance of space. To put it bluntly, they’re killing it. And since 1927, they’ve been ours. Started right here in Salt Lake City. Originally built in 1905, the building’s 20,000 square feet and $24 million renovation (by architecture firm MJSA) only reinforces the testament that the best things are worth preserving, and preserving well. And since the shop is only a handful of blocks from our COLLECTIVE HQ, we can pop over to this beautiful jewelry box down the street to appreciate all the brilliance that resides within whenever we please. We chatted with O.C. Tanner’s Dominique Anderson about the real estate, the renovation, the reality, and my royal love affair…
Being in the real estate business, I’m always intrigued by the building acquisition process. What did that look like for O.C. Tanner? How long did the process take, and how many people got a say in things? Was it love at first sight? You could definitely say that it was love at first sight, as we’d had our eye on it for several years before it came available. It took only a few months for us to acquire the building as it was quickly recognized that O.C. Tanner was the right one to be moving in. And then the renovations began…. Almost two years later, and 50% over budget, we opened those gorgeous front doors to the public with a spectacular two-day open house in Sept., 2009.
It seems architecture and jewelry are quite compatible–tell us everything about your marriage. We feel that the beauty of the building mirrors what we love in jewelry and timepieces–fine craftsmanship speaks volumes; beauty in shapes, lines and textures evoke emotions. And opposites attract–classic and modern jewelry can certainly live together! Our customers and visitors also comment on how unpredicted the interior of the store is once they walk through our front doors. We like to think what we offer inside is also unexpected.
Neighbors are a big deal. Any words about your friends on either side? We are actually having lunch at the Alta Club right now! Seriously, the Alta Club welcomed us warmly and we regularly host events there. We love being nestled between two beautiful historic buildings – they just make us look more beautiful. And who doesn’t love the cool new Harmon’s for shopping and a quick lunch?
I know why I’m obsessed with O.C. Tanner as a company. What makes it so special in your opinion? The people. Definitely people are at the top of the list. The company unquestionably cares about everyone who works here. The jewelry store team is an especially close group; we truly are each other’s friends and second family. It’s also special to be part of Obert Tanner’s dream to have the most beautiful jewelry store in America. Not a day goes by that we don’t come in and are amazed at our product and the space in which we reside.
What’s your definition of “luxury”? Luxury is exclusivity, beauty, something that is curated; but it is not exclusive in terms of out of reach. It is also an experience that is unparalleled, exquisite, and memorable. We strive to offer that to everyone we work with.
In the world of precious stones and precise timepieces, does size actually matter? Yes and no. The numerous, tiny parts that make up the movement of a fine timepiece are its hallmarks, and it’s also what makes it so exceptional. For jewelry, we say go as big as your budget and personal style allows, but quality always trumps.
Why do you think your clients are so loyal? Our clients trust us to provide them with the best and the brightest. They are treated like part of our family; many of them have become close, personal friends. New customers come to us because of our reputation of quality and trustworthiness – and they stick with us.
Do you ever overhear clients or visitors talking about your building? What do they say? So many of our clients are grateful that O.C. Tanner made the investment to restore our building in such a spectacular way. It truly is a gift to the city. We have many tourists who stop in the store just to see the space and almost every one of them marvel at our chandelier.
When/where can I pick up my Patek Philippe Calatrava? Since you have such a great relationship with Sara, we have to defer to her on this one. (But we know what you’ve got your eye on and we can special order it for you today!)