In April 1961, Dick Elliott, with a used showcase from Ensler’s Luggage in Cedar Rapids, set up a watch repair shop in a single room above B & B Clothing he rented for $10 a month from Martin Hayes and Dutch Jacoby. The tiny room had no heat and he had only one watch in stock, but Dick worked tirelessly building his burgeoning business. During his off-hours, he would often hand-write postcards to send to customers, adding that personal touch to his business.
As his business began to outgrow that single room, Dick convinced the owners of Carter & Herman Drug to rent out their old soda fountain counter space and the window space next to it for $75 per month. From this street level location, Dick’s business began to boom. In several years’ time, he began to outgrow his location at the drugstore and began to look for a third, and final location for his shop.
In 1967, five years after moving into Carter & Herman, Dick moved out and into his own store, which he had purchased from Lud Larson, who had run a dry cleaning business in the building for many years. The shop was sparsely furnished with nothing but two old radiators along the western wall. He purchased handmade cases from Lawrence Ricker one at a time as he could afford them. The time that Dick spent at his shop was far from a regular eight-hour working day. At times, he would be working diligently on jobs until one or two in the morning. From this hard work and dedication, his business soon grew very rapidly.
When the need arose and when there was the money, Dick would purchase more wall and floor cases for his shop. For many years, all of the money he made went right back into the jewelry store. Dick and his family lived off of the money his wife, Shirley, made from a beauty shop she ran in the back room of the store.
Over the years, business has grown more and more. Dick’s son and daughter-in-law, John and Shelly, purchased the business in August of 2002, and plan to continue the legacy of the store well into the future. John has a graduate degree in Gemology from the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California. He later apprenticed for two years at Ring Specialty, a jewelry manufacturer in Minneapolis. “There,” John remarked, “for ten hours a day, I would set diamonds until it became second nature to me.”
Elliott Jewelers continues a tradition of doing all jewelry work in-house, something of which had become a rarity nowadays. This distinction has set the store apart within the region, and Elliott Jewelers enjoys the attention this reputation of quality work had brought. They have customers from throughout the tri-state area come to their store because of this reputation.
As the years have progressed, so has technology. Although the long tradition of hand crafting jewelry is far from dead (John still has a full compliment of hand tools for working with gold and setting diamonds), the store also benefits greatly from new technology that has become available. One such device is a laser welder that replaces the more typical torches used in the fabrication and repair of jewelry. The laser welder uses a very accurate and powerful laser to weld gold, platinum, silver, and other metals used in the making of jewelry. The laser leaves a much cleaner seam and a much stronger bond between the metal. The time required for tedious welding and soldering has been cut in half, allowing the store to do more, higher quality business.
Since the store’s beginning in 1961, Elliott Jewelers has built its business on the principles of quality merchandise at fair prices and service that is second to none.
Elliott Jewelers 31 West Main Street, P.O. Box 481, Waukon, IA 52172 (563) 568-3661