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Jewelry store brings bling to Main Street

Robert and Elizabeth Madson opened Elizabeth's Fine Jewelry, LLC, at 707A N. Main St. on Monday, Dec. 12. <i>Debbie Griffin photo</i>1 / 2
The Madsons' German Shepherds Jager (left) and Morgan, stay at the store during business hours and keep a watchful eye on operations. Their names translate in German to mean hunter and morning. <i>Debbie Griffin photo</i>2 / 2

Robert and Elizabeth Madson turned on the neon "Open" sign the morning of Monday, Dec. 12 but said lots of people had already stopped by the see what was happening inside the newly renovated space at 707A N. Main St.

Elizabeth's Fine Jewelry is now open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

Many wonder: Is it the same store that did business in Hudson along Coulee Road for eight years? Yes, it is.

The Madsons say rent became too expensive in Hudson, so they closed the shop and intended to start a new chapter in life.

Elizabeth said she maintained the store's business phone so people could still reach them to pick up remaining items.

She was fielding a handful of phone calls every day during which people lamented their closing and basically said, "Please don't go."

The couple began thinking about opening at a different site and looked at many options, scrutinizing each one's parking.

One day during the first week of November, they sat inside the River Falls Family Restaurant and happened to see across the street, a "for lease" sign in front of the remodeled building.

Elizabeth and Robert called property owner Chad Halvorson and soon decided to re-enter the retail jewelry business -- at about one third of their previous rent and with only themselves as employees.

The retail store has about 1,000 square feet, about the same as it had in Hudson.

Elizabeth said, "We were happy to find this space," adding it is a good, convenient high-visibility location with plenty of parking.

Building trust, delivering service

The Madsons realize the jewelry business is built upon trust. People hesitate to hand over their precious metals, gems and family heirlooms to just anyone.

"We're mostly going to be concentrated on repair and custom work," said Elizabeth.

Robert will do all repair and design work in the store. The Madsons say the only things they send out for repair are watches and clocks, a fairly specialized trade.

The store offers a little of each kind of merchandise, including wedding and engagement rings, gold pendants and necklaces, earrings, bracelets, lockets, a small men's line and sterling silver, as well as a few plated items.

The owners say during the first few weeks, much of the merchandise will be on sale. Customers can get a 20% discount on repairs through January.

The Madsons will have an appraiser on certain days -- another service done while a customer waits. The business provides a complimentary cleaning and/or an inspection.

Elizabeth said some people have owned jewelry for a lifetime but have never had it cleaned. And an inspection can reveal issues like loose stones, weak prongs or broken fasteners.

Another service they provided frequently in Hudson and will offer in River Falls too: Replacing watch batteries and repairing eyeglasses. The Madsons also plan to buy gold, pending a license they expect to be issued this week.

"We pay as much as we possibly can," said Elizabeth, adding that it's a service growing in demand and a part of "being here" for whatever their customers need.

The Madsons say they can help with nearly any jewelry "situation" and encourage people to come see them. For example, someone may inherit jewelry from a relative and not know if it's valuable; Elizabeth's would help them sort through it.

Asked what kind of design projects people bring them, the Madsons say they include lots of special engagement rings plus maybe resetting a stone or maybe giving a piece an updated or different look.

Sparkle, shine

The Madsons are encouraged by people's response to their news.

"When Gemini closed," said Elizabeth, we actually got a lot of business from River Falls."

She lived in town for several years during the late 1990s, and she and Robert have friends who live here, too. They live in North Hudson and before opening the business, typically visited often.

Robert started in the jewelry business 42 years ago in a trade program when he attended high school in Minneapolis. After graduation, he worked for a large jewelry manufacturer for 10 years.

He next opened his own shop in Tulsa, Okla., where he worked for eight years before moving back to Minneapolis. He worked in various shops before taking a long-term position as a manager at a big, national, jewelry company.

Robert says the jewelry business is interesting with styles, equipment and preferences changing all the time. He said unlike a lot of others, the jewelry industry is very supportive, where people share ideas and tips plus train together.

Elizabeth's professional background involves more administration, but she's always been a jewelry buff. For 25 years she's accompanied a jewelry-making friend to the world's biggest gem and mineral show in Tucson, helping her pick items to bring back.

The two met 11 years ago and got married a short time later.

"Then we started Elizabeth's," she said.