After 103 Years in Business, This Illinois Independent Is Closing

IndependentsOct 06, 2022

After 103 Years in Business, This Illinois Independent Is Closing

The owner of Sandberg Jewelers in Skokie, which has been in operation since 1919, is retiring.

Sandberg Jewelers in Skokie, Illinois, is closing after more than 100 years in operation. Third-generation owner Susan Sandberg said the pandemic was the catalyst for her decision to shutter her family’s store and retire.
Skokie, Ill.—A Chicagoland jewelry store that first opened its doors in 1919 will be closed by the end of the year.

Sandberg Jewelers owner Susan Sandberg announced via Facebook earlier this week that she is retiring and closing the store her grandfather and great-uncle founded 103 years ago. 

Susan told National Jeweler that COVID-19 acted as the catalyst for a decision she described as “bittersweet.” 

“My business was going at a good speed before COVID, before we had to shut down. And that really changed the whole landscape for us,” she said. “We never bounced back from that.” 

The pandemic caused them to lose customers and sales, since people were going out less and, as a result, needing less jewelry.

Susan also noted that hiring became difficult following the pandemic, with the store still short-staffed nearly three years after COVID caused shutdowns nationwide. 

“I’ve worked harder in the last three years than I have in my whole career,” she said. “I’m tired.”

The difficulties brought about by the pandemic, coupled with changes in the jewelry industry—vendors selling directly to customers, rising insurance costs and crime, the growing prevalence of lab-grown diamonds, and the specter of another recession—have diminished the pleasure Susan once derived from the business. 

It all has her feeling like she is “working harder for less.” 

“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “I’m disappointed, but my fourth generation isn’t ready, willing, and able to carry on.” 

“At the same time, I  am very proud I was able to carry it through the third generation. And you know I’m going to have to retire at one point. All signs are pointing to now.”  

 Related stories will be right here … 

Philip Sandberg Sr. (Susan’s grandfather) and his brother, Frank Sandberg, first opened Sandberg Jewelers on Chicago’s Milwaukee Avenue.

The business relocated to the city’s Irving Park neighborhood in the 1950s.

Susan and her sister, Karen Sandberg, moved the store one final time, to its current location in the Village Crossing Shopping Center in Skokie, Illinois.

Sandberg Jewelers started its going-out-of-business sale with a special preview for VIPs this week and will open it up to the general public Friday, with merchandise marked down as much as 70 percent. 

It will continue until the store runs out of merchandise or on Christmas Eve, “whichever comes sooner,” Susan said.

In retirement, she said she plans to continue to “dabble” in jewelry—she is keeping her bench and her laser welder—and volunteer with Safe Families for Children, which works to help at-risk children.

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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