TRAVERSE CITY — Railroad workers used to come to Martinek’s jeweler and set their pocket watches to the time on the grandfather clock.
For decades, a green clock with Martinek’s on the top and jewelers on the face marked the passage of time in downtown Traverse City, even after the store opened at 217 E. Front St.
A replica of the clock was built outside Martinek’s Jewelry’s new location when the 144-year-old company moved to 950 Duell Road in 2013. The blueprints for the clock are proudly displayed inside the shop, which traces its roots back to Union Street in 1878.
Soon the two brand watches will mark the passage of time in a completely different way. The jewelry store is expected to close its doors for good by the end of June.
“It’s just about time,” said owner Paul Everts, who bought the business in 1993 with his father Lawrence. Paul became the sole owner when his father retired in 2008. “I have an incredible customer base – our customer base is very loyal. We could go on and on (in business).
“I just don’t have anyone to leave it to.”
Paul Everts, 57, said his sons Alex and Jake choose very different career paths as doctors and mechanical engineers, respectively. Everts said his sons were “too smart” to get into the jewelery business, as he did as a 9-year-old, first cleaning up his family’s backyard shop before repairing watches a year later.
“I’m tired,” he said. “I’ve been working 7 days a week since I was 18.”
A liquidation sale began at Martinek on May 1st. While it’s difficult to ascertain how many regular customers have shopped at the store over the years, Paul Everts said on Friday there is a stack of about 250 receipts by the register, all since the sale began.
“We have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds,” Everts said. “That’s why I work 7 days a week, although I’ve been closed on Saturdays and Sundays for years.”
Getting some work done on a ring – and checking out all the items for sale – brought Kalkaska’s Karen Stuck into the store on Friday. It was also a nostalgic stop at the shop for Stuck, who worked there for a decade.
“I’m sad about it because I love Martineks,” Stuck said. “I used to work at Martinek’s Downtown when it was owned by Mr. (William F.) Martinek.”
Not only the customers were sad about the long-term business closure. Kathy Warner has been a manager at Martinek’s for 13 years. Warner said she will miss the day-to-day interactions with regular shoppers.
“I will miss many of our customers; They were like family,” Warner said. “There are) too many to count. I always meet people at the grocery store or at Costco. They always stop and chat – like family.”
Neil Cooper, who was brought in to help with the liquidation sale, said he’s also hearing from customers outside of the store.
That’s a direct statement of Everts, specifically “how humble and how trustworthy Paul is.”
Everts said the family approach to work is one of the reasons he doesn’t continue his craft. It started when his father died three years ago at the age of 83 and was really driven home almost a year ago when his older brother Howard “Howie” Everts died at the age of 58.
“It changed my thinking,” Paul said. “That changed my attitude. Money is not everything. Time spent with family is more important to me.”
Martineks began with James N. Martinek, who established the jewelry business on Union Street in 1878, Everts said. After a fire just after the turn of the century, the shop moved to Front Street and the green-painted clock blew up in 1909. The business was run by James N. Martinek and his son James S.
William F. Martinek managed the company until it was sold to Lawrence and Paul Everts in 1993.
“I had (the replica) built downtown just like the old one when we moved here,” Everts said. “(The) downtown (clock) is still downtown and should stay downtown forever.”
The grandfather clock in the store – which says “JN Martinek City Time” – has been on display at every Martinek location since the store started. Until it went back to Mark Martinek, William F.’s grandson, on Saturday.
“It’s been around since the beginning of time,” Everts said.
While the Martineks have a long history in the Traverse City jewelry business, the Everts have a long background as well.
Paul’s grandfather, Howard Everts, founded Everts Jewelers in Clare in 1945. They were adding a second store in Mt Pleasant before Lawrence received a call from Bill Martinek.
“My dad and Bill were close friends and[Bill]didn’t have anyone to leave it with. He said, ‘Will you come up and take it?’ and he said, ‘I’d like that.’”
As much as Paul Everts has enjoyed the business and working with clients, it is now time for him to move on.
“I’ve been part of a lot of great jewelry stores,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of great teachers. I am blessed.”
Paul Everts said he wasn’t sure what to expect next when the Duell Road deal closes. He joked that his wife Val probably won’t let him “retire.”
“It’s time to start his next chapter,” Cooper said, answering the question for Everts. “He’s closing that chapter and it’s time to enjoy the next, whatever that is.”
“I’m tired. Since then I’ve been working 7 days a week
I was 18 years old.” Paul Everts, owner of Martinek’s Jewelry