Anderegg Jewelers longtime owner Jake Anderegg is retiring in early January 2022 after more than 45 years at the store. / Photo by Renee Preston Photography

As Andereggs Jewelers prepares to close for retirement, local businessman reflects on changes in his vocation

BUCKHANNON – Anderegg Jewelers, a staple of Buckhannon’s Main Street for 71 years, will close its doors one final time Jan. 8, 2022.

Jake Anderegg, owner of Anderegg Jewelers, said he has been operating the shop for the last 47 years, and now he’s retiring.

“My wife and I talked a couple years ago and decided I would do it until I was about 72,” Anderegg said. “She’s been retired now for about five years, so we thought that would be a good time and we could work it out financially and still be able to live a good lifestyle. We’re just retiring; we’re not being forced out by COVID or anything like that. We just feel it’s time to go.”

Most of the items in the store are on sale, with discounts of up to 70 percent off.

“At this point, we have cut repairs; we’re just selling items right now,” Anderegg said. “If we sell a ring to you, we will fit that ring for you, and we’ll do that right up until the end, but as far as taking repairs, we’re not doing that right now.”

He thanked the Buckhannon-Upshur community for their continued support and said he would miss seeing the storefront on Main Street.

“Buckhannon has just been great to my family,” Anderegg reflected. “It’s just been the best; it’s never really been like a job. Most of the people who walk through the door I know, and even when we don’t know them, before they leave, we do. It has just been a great run and Buckhannon is a great little town. In my estimation, there’s no place better.”

Throughout his more than four decades at the store, Anderegg and his employees honed the ability to listen with a caring ear and were always searching for ways to better assist customers and “to make them feel important and appreciated as they celebrate life’s most special moments,” as the business’s website says. In 2013, that skill set led to the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce naming Andereggs Jeweler Small Business of the Year.

Becoming a jeweler like his father was not originally part of Anderegg’s plan for his career, however. Anderegg said his father attended school to learn the ins and outs of the jewelry industry after World War II and then returned to Buckhannon to open Anderegg Jewelers.

“I never actually wanted to get involved in the business,” Anderegg said. “I was teaching in Marion County and had just gotten married. My parents wanted me to try this, and I always resisted. I talked to my wife [Cheryl Anderegg] about it, and we decided we would give it a try. We went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for two years to school – a watch-making and jewelry repair school – and then in early 1975, we moved back to Buckhannon, and we have been at the store ever since.”

Although he had already earned an undergraduate degree from Fairmont State College, Anderegg enrolled in the Bowman School of Watchmaking in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Anderegg said his father became ill shortly after he came back, so he and his mother ran the store for about 30 years until 2006 when he took over the enterprise entirely. One of the main principles he has tried to follow throughout the years is that each watch or piece of jewelry customers bring in has its own unique value to those clients.

“A lot of the items that we fix aren’t particularly [monetarily] valuable, but they’re really valuable to the people because of who gave them the piece,” Anderegg said. “We’ve always tried to keep that in mind when we’re taking something in or talking to someone about what they have because we may look at it, and it might not be a special piece to us, but we certainly want to make you (customers) feel like it’s a special piece.”

He reflected on his time in school and lamented the lack of jewelry and watchmaking schools left.

“There aren’t many schools left to teach you the trade,” Anderegg said. “It was a very difficult school. The instructors were all old German jewelers, and they were very strict. They really didn’t care whether you moved on to the next step or not, so until you did it right, you were stuck at that step.”

Out of curiosity, Anderegg started looking for another shop that repairs its own jewelry.

“I’ve been checking around and finding that most of the stores actually send the repairs they take in to another company – that’s the way it’s going,” Anderegg said. “Even with the smaller stores, I think most of them don’t have a jeweler in the store to do the repairs on-site.”

He said the trade isn’t as popular, which has led to a drop in specialized schools for jewelers.

“I think there’s just less interest and fewer people going into the trade,” Anderegg said. “If there were more people interested in learning about the trade, then the schools would still be available. It seems to me that people buy more jewelry than ever, but there are fewer people to repair it.”

Andereggs Jewelers, located at 9 East Main St., will remain open through Jan. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. The store is closed Wednesdays and Sundays, but you can check out its website for a special coupon and more information.

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