Piece of history closes: jeweller to retire
Thunder Bay is losing one of its oldest jewelry stores. After 43 years of serving Thunder Bay and area, Dave Douglas Jewellers will be closing its doors in a few weeks.
Douglas told The Chronicle-Journal on Thursday that he will miss his customers.
“I will miss the people I deal with every day. I probably would have retired a year ago or so, but I thought who’s going to look after them,” he said.
“I am sorry to close, but the time is right for (wife) Rosalie and I to retire, and spend time with our family.
“It has been a pleasure serving the Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario community and sharing in their special occasions and generally their happiest times.”
Douglas said he is one of four major independent jewellers in the city.
“With me being the last one, people looking for jewelry will have to head to the malls.”
Since the closing sign went up and ads started running, the phones have been ringing off the hook, Douglas said.
“I have marked everything down to clear out, and look forward to seeing our many friends and customers to say goodbye one last time.”
Douglas said he bought a piece of Thunder Bay history when he purchased George H. Burke Jewellers in 1973. He changed the name of the store at 898 Alloy Pl. to Dave Douglas Jewellers in 1992. The store in the former city of Port Arthur opened in 1936, the second location for McCartney and Burke Jewellers. The original store was opened about 1908 in the former city of Fort William.
Douglas said the rising price of gold has made things difficult for jewelry dealers and their customers.
With the price rising over the past few years from US $550 to US $1,800 an ounce, “we found we were buying less gold,” he said, adding that the price of small diamonds has also shot up.
Wedding rings, for example, which were selling from $550 to $600 a couple of years ago are now going for $1,100 to $1,200, he said.
With that pricey product on the shelves, Douglas said, he has had to deal with more than his share of “smash and grabs” over the years.
“At least a dozen times . . . windows have been broken,” he said.
In one robbery in 1996, a man pulled a gun on store employees and took several diamonds.
Douglas ran after the man, jumped into a truck and helped police locate the thief.
“Some people called me brave, others called me stupid (on that one),” he said.
As for retirement, Douglas said he plans to spend more time with family, which includes 10 grandchildren, and “maybe relax a little bit more.”