KB Jewelers has stood the test of time while downtown Hettinger faced rotating business presence
By COLE BENZ | Record Editor
As businesses on Main Street have opened and shut their doors over the years, one has been a mainstay and a staple with the community for the past four decades.
On Jan. 1, 2017, KB Jewelers celebrated their 40th anniversary of the day they opened their doors to the community of Hettinger and surrounding communities.
Co-owned by husband and wife since 1981 when the two married, Kent and Kathleen Brackel said it is an amazing feat to be steady post during the ever changing landscape of businesses on Main Street. Throughout his grand opening Kent was sent 30 bouquets of flowers from different businesses. Today only three still stand.
“It doesn’t seem possible,” Kent Brackel said.
The journey started when Kent was just a senior in high school, when his aunt offered to sell her late husband’s bench and jeweler tools. Not knowing what the future held for himself, he purchased the equipment.
From there he worked for his father, who was also a jeweler, for three years before venturing into business for himself. During this time he became a certified clockmaker, adding to his skill set.
Kent bought Britton Jewelers and the location was where Taqueria El Pueblo is now located. By Jan. 1 1980, Kent had bought a piece of land and built a new building, and he’s been there ever since.
Kent and Kathleen married in 1981 and raised their kids in the adjoining residence behind the store. The two have a great dynamic, something that would be required for a husband and wife to work so closely for so many years while having their home only a few steps away from their daily jobs. When talking to The Record, both acknowledged the great partnership, and that they needed each other.
“We’re definitely partners,” Kathleen said. “Because Kent can’t do it without me, and I can’t do it without him.”
The business has evolved over the years. Beginning with jewelry and clock making, the pair have since expanded their gift line, added a prominent brand of scented candles, opened some real estate in their store to book sales, and have been known for their trophies and engraving services. Kent said this diversification has also helped the business succeed. It allowed the pair to offer services for a wide range of clients.
Something that Kent has also attributed to their success. In the forty years since the business’s inception, the Brackels have taken off a total of two weeks off from their jobs. As they both have said, you need to be present.
Kathleen said one attribute Kent possesses has also helped KB Jewelers stand the test of time, honesty.
“Kent is honest, too,” Kathleen said. “You can’t be anything but super honest to be a jeweler.”
The two have not been without challenges through the years. The Brackels cite the growing number of online shoppers to the demise of some of the stores on Main Street, something themselves have had to battle as the internet has become more prudent in society. They also said the sense of community camaraderie has been lost in recent years, which has hurt every business owner.
As they look back at the years in the store, Kathleen said they have been blessed to have great help, who’ve stayed many years and been great for the store and the customers.
“We couldn’t get any better help than [that],” Kathleen said. “So we’ve been lucky that way too.”
What does the future hold for the Brackels and KB Jewelers?
The duo has no immediate plans to retire and close the doors. But when they do, they plan to continue to be a presence in the community.
“After we do retire, we’ll do a lot of volunteering,” Kent said.
In the end, it’s the people that have made the years so great, Kathleen said. And their affinity for Hettinger and their part in making the community great is something they will always treasure.
“We love Hettinger, and we want it to be successful,” Kathleen said. “We feel that this store has been here for forty years and are just happy that we are the reason why it has stayed here for forty years.”
To celebrate their 40 years, they will be giving away a $40 gift certificate each month. Customer can register in the store.