Two long-time Saginaw County jewelers calling it quits - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Two long-time Saginaw County jewelers calling it quits

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(12/03/13) - As we first reported last month, Simmons Jewelers in Bay City is closing its doors for good in January.

Now, two Saginaw County independent jewelry stores have decided to do the same.

Longtime Nuechterlein's Jewelry customer Monika Rivers couldn't let her beloved Frankenmuth store close without one last stop. "See what I could add to our collection," River said.

Owner Sally Hovis says it was not an easy decision to close, Jan. 10. "It is bittersweet because I love working in Frankenmuth, for 30 years, but I'm happy to be retiring," Hovis said.

The Frankenmuth store was first owned by Hovis' father.

Hovis says most of her decision to retire was made for personal reasons - she wants to spend more time with her family - but she does see changes for independent jewelers.

"I read a lot of trade magazines, and they predicted that within 10 years, at least 20 percent of independents will close," she said.

Mark Billmeier, co-owner of Billmeier Jeweler in Saginaw Township, has also noticed changes and challenges. "I think that the jewelry industry is in, having an upheaval," Billmeier said.

He tells us competition comes from an unlikely place when it comes to the hard-earned dollars of the younger generation.

"They still buy engagement rings, but after that it's TVs and iPods and iPhones. I think electronics have taken over," Billmeier said.

Billmeier Jeweler closes Dec. 31.

Until these sale signs went up recently, business hasn't been what it used to.

"We've been mostly selling watch batteries and repair work and you can't really live on that kind of thing," Billmeier said.

He also tells us gold prices have forced many people out of the market for fine jewelry.

While both businesses say it was their decision to go out of business, they admit it will be hard. They will miss their loyal customers who kept them going until the very end.

"I'm so happy for her, and you can see on her face she's happy too, and for her husband, but I'm so sad for myself, and for people that come, we've been coming here for years," Rivers said.

Nuechterlein's also has a location in Old Town Saginaw, but it is not closing. Only the Frankenmuth location is going out of business.

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