HOWELL, Mich. – Tom Cunningham's first job in the jewelry business was as a teenager helping with engravings in his stepfather’s store in nearby Hudson, Michigan. That inspired a lifelong career as a jeweler.
However, at that time he didn’t realize he would eventually own Yax Jewelers with deep roots in Howell, Michigan.
“There was never any consideration of doing anything else,” laughs Cunningham, who is now ready to retire and end a retail legacy of more than a century.
On Friday Yax Jewelers began its huge closing sale that ends a 102 year legacy in Howell. You can Expect to find deep discounts on a wide range of upscale, fine jewelry in all styles – sterling silver to multi-carat diamond jewelry in all price ranges.
Cunningham and his stepfather Charles Blanks (who previously owned H.C. Blanks Jewelers in Hudson) purchased Yax Jewelers in 1973 with Cunningham at the helm. Yax Jewelers was already a mainstay in Howell, having opened in 1917.
Cunningham and Blanks purchased the building and moved the store to its current location at the corner of Michigan and Grand River Avenue in 1979, which served as McPherson State Bank from the beginning of the century to 1960.
What has made Yax Jewelers different from other big retailers is the exceptional craftsmanship, trust, and integrity. Unique pieces you won’t find anywhere else using a variety of gemstones. Also, all repair work is done in-house, it’s not sent out. “That’s always been a significant point for our customers,” said Cunningham.
When Cunningham reflects on 40-plus years in the community he realizes it has “gone by in a flash,” said Cunningham who finds multiple generations of customers shopping with him.
“Grandparents bought their wedding bands from us and now the grandchildren are coming in for engagement rings,” said Cunningham, himself a grandfather to several grandchildren scattered across the country.
He continued, “The store has been here forever – 102 years - people who find out my retirement and the store closing say congratulations and good luck.”