Thursday, November 13, 2003

Concierge Services owner Pono Shim said he has worked out arrangements with licensed manufacturers of trademark movie items.

Ward theaters concierge
expands into movie retail

The entrepreneur will open
an outlet featuring film and
character items

The entrepreneur who started a movie concierge business two and a half years ago, allowing fee-paying members to dodge admission lines and even get reserved seats in the Ward 16 complex, is taking on a new movie-related business.

Pono Shim, owner of Concierge Services at Ward, will open a retail outlet on the other side of the theaters' lobby on Saturday.

Right now the Concierge Gift Store is just a kiosk, but it has a lot of potential, Shim said. It will sell movie-themed, character-logo items such as shirts, key chains, magnets, "Harry Potter" chocolate frogs and even beach towels featuring Looney Tunes characters such as Tweety Bird and Taz, the "Tasmanian devil."

"This is far different than most people are going to realize," Shim said. It's a concept he has been working toward for five years, he said.

"It's really about marketing. Through our established clientele and relationships with merchants we've built a relationship with consumers. Businesses are coming to us and asking how can we access your consumers," Shim said.

What he has been able to do, he said, is work out arrangements with licensed manufacturers of trademark movie items to get a good price, which means he can resell the items at much lower prices than those found in department stores.

A big item now is the DVD version of the movie "Whale Rider," and he is developing a relationship with the producers of the "Lord of the Rings" and "Spiderman" movies.

"Once again, I'm put in the position of, my clients want something and I am in the position of being a conduit," he said.

Among other items, Shim has stocked a little more than 1,000 shirts representing "Return of the Kings," the latest in the "Lord of the Rings" series; and he expects them to go fast.

Much of his client base comes from "e-notices," which he sends out weekly to subscribers on the Internet, he said. His Concierge Services also has hundreds of members in a hospitality card system, originally established to get significant discounts for hospitality industry workers when they shop at each other's establishments.

Because the card offers considerable discounts, he was going to raise the price to $20 but decided to sell it at $4, of which $1 goes to charity, Shim said. It is now open to the general public, regardless of what they do for a living, he said. For more details see the Web site

Shim became an entrepreneur out of unemployment. He worked in the restaurant business at Orson's in Ward Warehouse, which closed, and next at A Pacific Cafe, which also closed. At that point he decided to do something for himself.

What makes his Ward 16 business work, he said, is good partnership relations with theater-operator Consolidated Amusement Co. and land owner Victoria Ward Ltd.

Shim's Concierge Services offers such treats as group bookings for movies, movie birthday parties for kids, reserved seats with popcorn for a little more than the regular admission and the big one, the opportunity to pay a little more than regular admission to bypass lines, which could hold as many as 300 people.


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