Longtime Albert Lea jeweler set to retire in June

Published 6:40 am Saturday, April 20, 2024

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After more than 36 years in business, Larry and Sandra Fisher of Fisher’s Fine Jewelers will retire in June.

Fisher’s opened in 1987 in the former Rivoli Theater building, also known as the historic Bessesen Building, in what he described as the former Braaten Jewelers location.

In 1994, the business moved a few doors north to the corner of William Street and Broadway, where it has been ever since. Larry Fisher said they needed to expand, as the original store only had 400 square feet with five showcases and his work bench was in the middle of the store.

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Fisher said he grew up with his mother and father owning their own jewelry business in Crookston but didn’t decide until he was a senior that he wanted to go to jewelry school and be like his dad.

He went to school in Paris, Texas, where he studied gemology and jewelry technology to get his goldsmith degree after a 2-1/2-year program.

He and his wife heard about Albert Lea through salesmen who came through the area, and after checking out the community, they decided they liked it and moved to town.

“We were 23 years old, and I was the youngest jeweler in the state of Minnesota at the time, but it’s been an awesome community,” he said. “It’s been very good to us.”

The first four years of the business, it was just him and his wife, but after that they usually had anywhere between five and seven employees up until the last few years when it was mainly just him and Sandra again. He thanked his team over the years who worked with him and said it would not have been possible without them.

When asked how the jewelry business has changed since he opened, he referenced the internet and online shopping. It did not exist when he started.

Despite this, he said business has still been good because customers still like to touch and see jewelry in-person and know what they’re getting for their value.

“That’s why I feel independent jewelers, family-owned stores will always survive because people like to see the product and they like to know the person that is fixing their ring,” Fisher said.

People also like to support their local communities.

“Southern Minnesota and northern Iowa have been so good to us,” he said.

Though the Fishers tried selling the business a few times, in the end they were unable to do so, and they will just be looking to sell the building later this year.

He described the location as a wonderful corner in Albert Lea and talked about the recent revival he has seen downtown.

Signs go up on Monday of their retirement sale, with 20 to 65% off storewide. He said they hope to conclude in June.

After the store closes, Fisher said they plan to move to Tennessee, in-between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains — they fell in love with the area when their son was stationed in Camp LeJeune.

They enjoy riding motorcycle and hiking, and there will also be opportunities for ATV and horseback riding as well as zip-lining.

“It’s sad and exciting at the same time,” he said, recalling how hard his father said it was to walk out of his store of 51 years. “(There’s) a lot of great memories, a lot of great friends. …you meet a lot of great people.”

He said he and his wife will always cherish their memories and friendships made in Albert Lea, as well as their involvement over the years with efforts such as Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, lake restoration projects, the Freeborn County Humane Society and other efforts fighting cancer.

“We feel we’ve had a great place to take care of our friends over their years — that’s how we look at our customers — good friends,” Fisher said. “It’s been a wonderful community.”