On The Final Day Of Goodfellows Jewelers' Going-Out-Of-Business Sale
On Main Street in Barre, a block and a half away from the largest zipper in North America, there’s a brick storefront with green awnings. For decades, it’s been the home of Goodfellows Jewelers. But Saturday was the shop’s last day.
There was a sign on the sidewalk outside Goodfellows that said "final days" — but the “s” was all scratched out. This was the final day.
The jewelry store has moved locations and changed names several times since it was established in the late 1800s, but it’s been in the same family since the 1960s, when it was purchased by Virgil Gentl. After Virgil came his son Raymond Gentl, who died near the end of last year.
Marian Czarnowski was running the going-out-of-business sale. She said Gentl's kids decided it was time to close the shop.
“The children that are in the next generation have their own businesses, they’re out of state, so it was a very tough decision,” Czarnowski said. “But the stories that we’ve heard of people that have bought their engagement rings, wedding bands, going back 40, 50, 60 years, it’s been very special.”
"It's the end of an era." — Marian Czarnowski, Goodfellows Jewelers
Rosa Jakes was there helping with the sale, and had lots of stories: The one about the lady in her 80's who came in the store, wearing the same ring her father had bought her when she was 18. And another about the store's owner, who used to deliver rings to couples at the church — on the day of the wedding.
She said that last one gave her goosebumps to think about: “Who does that anymore?”
After Saturday, no one will be getting a wedding ring from Goodfellows Jewelers.
“It’s the end of an era,” Czarnowski said.
But just before the end, dozens of people stopped by the shop to buy one last piece of jewelry. Those people included me, and Joe and Christine Sainz from Plainfield. They were there to buy a ring.
“My husband actually got my engagement ring here 25 years ago,” Christine said. And Joe said it was time to “upgrade” the diamond.
“So it’s perfect,” Joe said. “We take advantage of the sale, and she found one.”
It was an ovaline diamond cluster, set in 18-karat white gold. "Absolutely gorgeous," according to Christine.
And while she would "be doing a happy dance" about the ring, Christine said she and Joe were sad to see Goodfellows closing.
“They have been here my whole entire life,” she said.
By this point, most of the store’s glass display cases were cleared out. There was a tray of men’s rings, a couple cases of high-end pieces, and scattered items from estate sales. I lingered over the cameos.
“These were like, made for someone,” Rosa Jakes said. “So they all have a history to them, you know?”
Marian Czarnowski lamented so many businesses being chain stores these days, which look the same from town to town.
“And so if you want to keep especially little towns like Barre, hopefully you can keep [a small business],” Czarnowski said. “But sometimes, it just doesn’t work, and you have to close them.”
Eventually, I was drawn to one of the smallest items left in Goodfellows, and almost definitely the least expensive: a small pendant with St. Jude on it. He’s the patron saint, I later learned, of lost causes.
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