A big yellow sign that reads “retirement sale” outside Nelson’s Jewelry in Crystal Lake can be seen from Route 14. The sale marks a new beginning for the 61-year-old business as it transferred ownership outside the Nelson family for the first time ever.
Nelson’s Jewelry opened in 1962 by husband and wife Art and Alice Nelson. After they retired in the late 1980s, sons Robert and Richard Nelson took over.
For the past 60 years, the family established themselves as a community pillar, developing trust with their customers and participating in philanthropy and community events.
New owner Katie Caven said she aspires to carry on the Nelsons’ key values of trust and fairness. Caven took over about nine months ago after longtime diamond and jewelry supplier Sam Gevisenheit recommended her to the Nelsons.
“We’d like to be here for a really long time,” Caven said. “Maybe one day in 25 or 30 years we hand it down to another family and it stays a legacy jewelry store.”
The team is hosting the retirement sale, which has some items marked as 75% off, as a way to bring in new inventory, Caven said.
New collections and suppliers will be coming to the store with prices ranging from affordable to luxury. Caven aims to bring in pieces that a child can get for a parent as well as special items that can celebrate anniversaries, she said.
“We’ve got generations of people coming in here, from the grandkids to the great-grandkids,” Caven said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see and be a part of.”
The store also will get some remodeling this year to “give it a little love,” she said.
Previous manager Justin Banaszynski has been working at the store for more than 20 years. After going back to school and starting his dream job of being a social studies teacher at Richard Bernotas Middle School in Crystal Lake, he’s still at the jeweler part time.
“It’s that connection to community, and I don’t want to give that up,” he said.
Banaszynski said Robert and Richard Nelson immediately treated him like family, describing them as “positive influences” in his life. Their commitment to the community inspired Banaszynski to become a volunteer for the Crystal Lake Babe Ruth League nonprofit baseball club.
Despite the store being under new ownership outside of the Nelson family for the first time, staff said they feel confident the same values will carry on.
And some employees have been there for more than 50 years to prove it.
“It’s that same trust we’ve been instilling for generations, and that’s not going away,” Banaszynski said.