By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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The owner of Fountain Square Jewelers, which has been a fixture for many years, will close shop at the end of December.
Citing “a combination of factors,” Allan Tuttle, owner of the jewelers at 101 W. First St., will shutter the shop by Dec. 31 and move two of the three employees to Cole’s Jewelry, a store Tuttle owns in Sequim.
Tuttle said the third staffer, a goldsmith, will still do work for the Sequim shop but not as an official employee.
“We’re trying to simplify,” Tuttle said, who moved his businesses into the space in 2006.
A billboard advertising a closeout sale is on Front Street.
Tuttle, 66, said employees with multiple years of experience leaving the Port Angeles shop recently contributed to his decision to consolidate the business in Sequim, as it takes at least a year to train a new jeweler.
Additionally, Tuttle said three break-ins in two years at the Port Angeles store played a role.
The burglaries resulted in the loss of about $3,000 to $5,000 in merchandise each time, Tuttle said, though he said the real cost was replacing $10,000 worth of windows and jewelry cases.
“No merchandise was ever recovered,” he said.
Tuttle also cited a seemingly sluggish downtown economy.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything positive happening,” Tuttle said, referring to downtown Port Angeles.
“We stayed for seven years, and it seemed to be going downhill instead of stable.”
When Tuttle first came to Port Angeles 30 years ago, he said he and his wife thought the city had a great deal of potential.
“I remember when we came to Port Angeles in ’83, we said this was a sleeping giant,” Tuttle said, referring to the city’s waterfront and proximity to an international ferry port.
However, Tuttle said he and his wife noticed that other North Olympic Peninsula cities boomed in the following years, while Port Angeles seemed to stay the same.
“We decided the giant’s not sleeping; it might be terminal,” Tuttle said.
The First Street space has held a jewelry store since 1990, Tuttle said, when it was owned by a former business partner of his.
Before that it was a long-running mens’ clothing store, Tuttle added.
The planned shuttering of Fountain Square Jewelers follows two other high-profile downtown closures this year.
Don Zeller, owner of Zeller’s Antiques formerly on First Street west of the jewelry shop, shut his doors and moved to Arizona in May.
A month later, Maurices, once across the street from Tuttle’s shop, closed and moved east to the U.S. Highway 101 Safeway shopping center.
Russ Veenema, executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he doesn’t necessarily see the recent closures as a trend, as the economy has been tough on locally owned stores nationwide.
“Smaller mom-and-pop, one-operator-type business, it’s tough to compete with the larger retailers and also online [shopping],” Veenema said.
“I wouldn’t say that Port Angeles is unique with businesses coming and going.”
Veenema said national trends also show that so-called discretionary purchases, such as jewelry, also have taken a hit.
“I can only imagine how difficult it was to sell jewelry during these tough economic times,” Veenema said.
Tuttle said his Sequim store, in business since 1990, continues to do well and will count five full-time employees once the two staffers from Port Angeles make their move.
“We truly appreciate the local clientele that was there, and we hope they come look us up in Sequim,” Tuttle said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.