A downtown fixture since the 1940s, Golden Jewelers will close April 3 when Norman Golden retires.
Until then, the store will still purchase scrap gold and customers can shop for jewelry at discounts of from 10 to 75 percent in a retirement sale, Golden said.
In a nod to the city's changing demographics, window signs announce both a retirement sale and a "venta de jubilacion."
The family business began in New York, then moved to Perth Amboy before Golden's father, Joseph, opened a store at 129 West Front Street in the 1940s. The present site is 181 East Front Street. Recalling the days when Plainfield was a shopping destination for all of Central Jersey, Norman Golden points to the store's site on an old photograph, one of many he has collected.
Here's a close-up, dominated by Buck & Benny Sport Shop, where guns were sold downtown. Golden recalled names such as Vim, Wall Drugs, Dreiers, Tepper's, Steinbach's and R.J. Goerke's from the old days.
Looking at another photo of the Queen City's heyday, Golden says the main thing he will remember from his decades in the downtown is "all the good people" who were and are his customers. The social interaction is one thing he will miss, he said, although he will be continuing to serve them on an eBay Golden Jewelers store. The eBay site will allow him to reduce the store's extensive inventory, while also serving customers across the world who seek out specific desires, such as the Reed & Barton silver teaspoons he recently sold to someone from one of Russia's new ethnic states.
Golden said the business was not one that could easily be sold, as it requires an owner "trained in gold, trained in diamonds," and knowledgeable about watch repairs in addition to being "good with people." A new owner would also have to have money to establish an inventory, he said. His store has a remarkable array of special pieces, as indicated below.
The store's legacy includes some quirky items, such as this National Cash Register from the early 20th century.
A visitor Tuesday did not immediately understand that the "Golden" in Golden Jewelers did not refer to the goods, but to the family name.
Norman Golden tossed it off with a quip: "Can you imagine if it was Smith? I'd have to shoe horses."