West Bend, WI – After 18 years in business Doug Schalla will be taking down his sign and closing his doors. At 60 years old, he says, “It’s time to retire.”
Schalla got his start working with his dad, Gordon, at his shop on Villard Avenue in Milwaukee where he specialized in watches. Schalla spent about four years working as a goldsmith at Maus Jewelers and then shifted careers to West Bend Tire. After a dozen years in the automotive business, he returned to his roots with watch repair and jewelry.
“I didn’t go to any real watch schools or anything like that,” said Schalla. “I have a watchmaker I send all the stuff to be repaired but I can do crystals, watch batteries, and a ton of small repairs with watch bands and things like that.”
Home, for Schalla Jewelers, came in a small storefront at 235 S. Main Street in West Bend, WI.
The building, constructed in 1960, had a life of its own before Schalla settled in. Reaching behind the counter he pulls out a couple of dusty picture frames that hold a collage of the building’s past including Staehler’s Beer Depot and several grainy black-and-white photos of Carl’s Choice Liquor, Berre’s Liquors, and Create it Ceramics.
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The photo below from September 1965 looks like a Maxwell Street Days sale outside Carl’s Choice.
When Schalla opened his neighbors were Apple Barrel General Store to the north and Riverside Brewery was under construction. Neuy’s Tap was to the south with a big sign that read: Color TV. Across the street was West Bend Savings; now Westbury.
Some fond memories of the store included having a prime spot for the annual parades and the people. “I just, I enjoy the people that come in. My customers are very nice. Happy. You know, I’ve got the dog here for 12 years now and everybody comes in to see Maggie,” he said.
The decision to close the shop was a difficult one. “I kind of feel like I’m leaving my customers,” he said. “I don’t know, where some of the people are going to go to get their services. Yes, there’s plenty of jewelers in town, but not all the jewelers will do what I do,” he said.
While Schalla is looking forward to Saturdays off and spending more time with his family, he is confident he made a difference in the community.
“I contributed to a lot of the charities and door prizes and things like that,” he said. “I think that brought in a lot of customers and it’s good advertising. I’ve brought quality products at a price everybody can afford.
“I want all my stuff to go to people that really are going to enjoy it. You don’t buy something for your wife for Christmas and she loves it and wears it two or three times and then puts it away in the jewelry box. Hopefully, she rotates through and wears it and sees it and it’s special to them.”
Schalla will be holding a retirement sale. “That doesn’t roll off the tongue very well,” he said. That will begin May 20 – June 17; up to 50% off. The sale does not include past purchases, repairs, or custom work.
Healthy and 60 years old, Schalla said he is ready for his next adventure.
On a real estate note: Schalla’s building has already been sold. Stay tuned as a new business announcement is ahead.