ST. CHARLES – Jim Petterec Sr. was 16 when he started working in the jewelry industry. Now, he’s celebrating 20 years in business at his own store, JP Jewelers in St. Charles.
“I’ve been doing this for 45 years,” he said. “As a 16-year-old, I thought it would be really cool to have my own store. When the time was right, it found me.”
In the last 20 years, the shop has steadily made its way toward its current location at 151 S. First St., St. Charles. Petterec said he originally opened in Bloomingdale and then moved to Bartlett before ending up in St. Charles in 2009.
“It was a natural progression,” he said. “I always wanted to come here. ... The river is charming and enchanting, and there are all types of mom-and-pop shops serving the community. It’s fun.”
Petterec said when he first opened the store in Bloomingdale in 1993, he remembers filling jewelry cases with gem books just to take up space as he built up his inventory.
Today, customers can choose from a number of custom-made jewelry pieces or bring in their own ideas so master craftsman Salvador Blanco who can create the piece on-site. Petterec said people often stop by the shop’s front window to watch Blanco work.
“There’s a level of trust that’s built immediately because it’s not outsourced to some other vendor,” Petterec said.
Petterec said he enjoys being the official “family jeweler” for his customers, many of whom have followed him to St. Charles from Bloomingdale and Bartlett. He said after 20 years, he’s now seeing the second generation buying engagement rings. Often, he’s invited to celebrate at his customers’ weddings.
Petterec said referrals have been the “lifeblood” of the business since.
“It really is the golden rule,” he said about staying in business for so many years. “You treat people the way you want to be treated. Honesty and integrity are the two key ingredients. We’ll do what it takes to make somebody happy if we get the chance.”
Petterec, a certified diamontologist and gemologist, said he has always been interested in gems, but it’s the personal relationships he built while working in the jewelry industry that inspired him to open his own business.
“I enjoy working with people. It’s a happy business,” he said.
To celebrate 20 years, Petterec is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. On Oct. 19, he said Pesto the Clown – the same clown that appeared at their original ribbon-cutting in Bloomingdale – will be doing balloon art and magic from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the store. A hot dog cart will be available.
For the entire month of October, all items in the store are 20 percent off.