Diamonds aren’t forever – Wallaceburg jewelry store closing

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After selling countless engagement rings and gifts, the owners of one of Wallaceburg’s last jewelry stores are retiring.

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DS Walker Jewelery on Margaret Avenue will close at the end of December after 35 years in business. David Walker said his store was still doing well, but he and his family needed a change.

“Wallaceburg has been a great town to have a business in and we have a very loyal customer base that supports us very well,” said Walker, who owns the business with his wife Karen.

David and Karen Walker, owners of DS Walker Jewellers, are pictured outside their Wallaceburg business on November 9, 2022. They are retiring after 35 years of owning the store.  (Tom Morrison/Chatham this week)
David and Karen Walker, owners of DS Walker Jewellers, are pictured outside their Wallaceburg business on November 9, 2022. They are retiring after 35 years of owning the store. (Tom Morrison/Chatham this week)

“We’ll be sad to see them go, but he’s reaching an age where you think it’s time for a change there.”

Walker had not originally planned to enter the jewelry business. He graduated from teachers’ college in 1982, at a time when “there were hardly any teaching jobs”, he said.

He worked as a substitute teacher for a time, but took a job with People’s Jewelers in London, where he worked for a year.

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David and Karen – originally from Chatham and Charing Cross respectively – moved to Wallaceburg when Bob Leach of Leach Jewelers was looking for an employee. Eventually, Walker realized he either had to buy the business from Leach or go out on his own.

Leach wasn’t ready to sell at the time, Walker said, but Diamond’s Plus at the local Wallaceburg mall was on sale in 1987.

“The gentleman was very nice and made it easy to buy the business,” Walker said. “We bought Diamond’s Plus and replaced it with DS Walker Jewelers.”

In 2006, the Walkers decided to leave the mall and purchase the building where they are currently located.

“It was actually the best decision we’ve ever made…and we’ve been extremely busy in the jewelry business ever since,” Walker said.

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As part of the Canadian Jewelery Group – a group of buyers – the Walkers attend an annual show to learn about the latest trends in the field and bring back items “that sell well in Wallaceburg”.

“I’ve sold some really nice, really big diamonds to people over the years,” Walker said. “It’s always surprised me as to what sells. We’re certainly trying to adapt the store to the market.

“We’ve always tried to have something for everyone,” added Karen. “If someone comes in and only has a little to spend, we can help them, and then we try to reach the other end of the market as well.”

Walker said when they open their own Christmas presents at home, they think of “thousands of people” unwrapping presents with DS Walker Jewelers on the box.

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“And we have second-generation families,” Karen said. “We sold (engagement rings) to mom and dad, and now we’re selling to their kids.”

“And we had a weird person come up in our store,” Walker said.

Karen noted that there were five jewelry stores in town when they started, but only Stekelbos Watch and Clock will still be open after this year.

“It’s a shame that independent businesses tend to behave like this,” she said.

Walker still decides whether to sell or rent the building once they close.

He said they have been “very busy” with their retirement sale and expect it to continue until their last day on December 23.

“The reason we’re not going to be open on December 24 is because we’ve been here 35 years and I’ve never had a day off on December 24,” he said. “It’s time to have one.”

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Sarah C. Figueiredo