A gem of a legacy
Krumrich's Jewelers to close Dec. 31 after 110 years

By Chris Bucher - Freeman Staff

December 24, 2016

Donna Krumrich-Manke and her husband Dick stand near the counter of Krumrich's Jewelers, 234 W. Main St. The store will close its doors after 110 years in business Dec. 31.
Chris Bucher/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - In its 110 years in business, Krumrich’s Jewelers experienced its fair share of change.

From 1906, when Joseph Krumrich opened the family- owned business on Main Street in Oshkosh to 1958, when it moved about 80 miles south to downtown Waukesha, the shop has always been there to see the surrounding environment transform.

In 2006, Donna Krumrich-Manke and her husband, Dick, took over the business from then-owner Joan Krumrich-Marx, who headed into retirement shortly after the jewelry store’s 100th anniversary.

Now, it’s time for Krumrich’s to say goodbye.

The store, at 234 W. Main St., will close its doors for good Dec. 31, leaving behind a legacy in Waukesha that few, if any, can grasp. The couple plans to coast into retirement at the end of the year.

“It makes me feel honored to have been able to serve the community for all these years and to have the people in the community continue to be loyal to us and come here and let us be their jeweler, it’s been awesome,” Donna said. “Even through the tough times, we’ve been able to help (customers) with even the little things.”

Neighboring businesses react to closure

The feeling of looking out his front door and not seeing the lights of Krumrich’s on is especially bittersweet for Norm Bruce, the owner of nearby Martha Merrell’s Books & Toys, 231 W. Main St.

“There’s some pain in it for me,” Bruce, who’s also the president of the Waukesha Downtown Business Association, said. “But at the same time, I have to celebrate that they’ve been here for that long and made such a commitment to Waukesha.”

Bruce said that he will miss Krumrich’s for various reasons, but mostly because of the dedication that’s been bestowed onto the community by Donna and Dick and the things the family has done to give back to downtown businesses. “It will be hard without a business like Krumrich’s and their support, they’ve been involved for the longest time with Friday Night Live,” he said.

It’s much of the same feeling for Roger and Carrie Igielski, who own neighboring Allo! Chocolat, 234 W. Main St. The two candy store owners celebrated a decade downtown in September. And all the while the duo felt at home, which is partly due to the welcoming personalities of their next-door neighbors, Roger said.

“They’re friends of ours that we’ve known for the last 10 years since we’ve been here,” he said. “We’ll miss Dick and Donna personally. They’re great people, great friends and great business people.”

A close camaraderie

The relationships that have been built with not only returning customers, but also downtown businesses such as Allo! and Martha Merrell’s is among the things at the top of the list of which Donna said she will miss the most.

“We’ve become family through all the different activities and everything,” the Pewaukee resident said. “I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished down here along with the other merchants, and I’m very honored to have done so. It means a lot to me.”

Dick, who will turn 81 next month, said he was around in Waukesha during the 1950s when there were five jewelry stores in the area. To be one of the last left standing and consider the transformation of the area and retail business in general during the store’s run has been a whirlwind experience, he said.

“It’s very hard for a small business to survive with the (online) business shipping in the day after they ordered it,” Dick said.

Through its astounding run, Donna took the role of the jeweler, while Dick spent time as the store’s “bookkeeper.” Donna said running a historic store in a such a changing climate has helped her expand her knowledge.

“Every day is a learning experience,” she said. “Every time that door opens, it’s a different person with a different want, need or desire and every time they leave, it’s a happy place to be.”

What’s next?

Though they are exiting that very business community that’s become home, she said they won’t be strangers to downtown. Instead, Donna and Dick will continue supporting the downtown that’s helped them thrive through the years, just from the other side of things.

“We’re going to do a little bit more volunteering,” Dick, who spent 28 years on the Waukesha County Board, said. “There have been a lot of great people, a lot of great people. It’s been fun.”

Donna added she is eager to see what the future holds and looks forward to keeping in touch with those that have contributed toward their many years of success.

“I’m looking forward to being on the other side of Friday Night Live,” she said. “To actually be in the street rather than in here; I think we’ll have some fun.”

Krumrich’s is having a “Going Out of Business Sale,” with customers receiving 75 percent off all items in the store until it closes.

Email: cbucher@conleynet.com