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Thursday April 24, 2014
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Tea, antiques, and pipes

 

continued

Austin & Warburton jewelers is coming off its second-best year ever, so owners Craig and Brenda Warburton decided it was time to close their store. Craig says that's not as screwy as it sounds-20 to 25 percent of last year's sales came from online sales and wholesale jewelry manufacturing. As those sales continue to grow, maintaining a showroom made less and less sense. "Retail is changing so fast," says Craig. "The way we buy things as a society is so different than it was even two years ago. I don't want to be on the back end of that curve. I want to be on the front end of that curve." Not that they were ever very far behind: they've had a website for more than fifteen years.

Retail's long hours factored into the decision, too. "I haven't had Saturdays off in twenty-three years," Craig says. "My kids are twelve and fifteen. I eat with them twice a week."

Craig says everything about the business revolves around his wife. "Brenda builds jewelry that could sit in Tiffany's and Cartier. She has won more awards for design and quality than anyone in the Midwest," including three Spectrum Awards, which Craig calls the equivalent of the Oscar in jewelry design. He says that both her custom jewelry and her "Parent and Child" pendants (featuring a mother holding a child in your choice of precious metals and set with a birthstone) are selling like hotcakes online, making a show-room extraneous.

The going-out-of-business sale was continuing through the end of May.

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