Jacob Frederick Reusch started as a jeweler's apprentice in Ionia, Michigan, in the year 1844, for $1.50 a week. After a year , his pay was increased to $6.00 a week, and by the time he moved to Petoskey in 1885, he was making $18.00 a week, considered a fabulous wage for that time.
Jacob purchased The Little Will Jewelry Store when the owner retired, and in 1926, shortly after his graduation, Fred Reusch joined his father in the family business. The store at that time was on the corner of Lake and Howard, where Cutlers is now.
One of the largest repair jobs that Fred and Jacob handled was in the early 1930s when the town clock in the old court house refused to work. It was necessary to take the clock works apart and, as the size of the pieces were so great, jewelers' tools were hardly enough. Tools were borrowed from the plumbing department of the Bremmeyr-Bain Hardware store. One of the bronze shafts had become pitted and flat on one side. It was built up and machined by Leonard Paige, in his blacksmith shop. In this case it was no joke that a timepiece had been repaired by a plumber and a blacksmith.
In 1933, during the depression, Fred decided to try his wings at other jobs. But his real desire to be in the jewelry business was ever present in his mind. In 1936, the senior Mr. Reusch moved his jewelry store to its present location at 427 E. Mitchell in Petoskey. As Jacob's business flourished, the demands of running the store and repair shop required another pair of hands. Fred returned in 1947 to f ill that need. He remained an employee until his father's death in 1951, when he assumed the operation and ownership of the business.
In 1970, John started in business on his own with the acquisition of a jewelry store in nearby Charlevoix, and the start of a gift operation in conjunction with the Petoskey jewelry store. In 1974 Harold Travis contacted John Reusch with an offer that he could not refuse. Harold and his wife Margaret wanted to sell their jewelry store and retire after many years of serving the Cheboygan community with fine jewelry products and services.
Even the fire across the street at the J C Penney building in Cheboygan did not slow up the change of ownership which occurred in early April of 1975. Reusch Jewelers had many friends already in Cheboygan through their parent store in Petoskey. This helped the business grow quickly and in a few years expand into the Budget Shop which had been their neighbor in the old Dalton Hotel building. Fred retired in May of 1978, selling the Petoskey store to John, insuring that the Reusch name would continue into the next century of business.
Under the enthusiastic direction of John, the company grew to eight stores by the late 1980s. Reusch Jewelers was proud to serve customers in the Northern Michigan communities of Petoskey, Gaylord, Cheboygan, Cadillac, Mt. Pleasant, Manistee, Ludington, and Big Rapids.
With the 1990's came the need to trim this expansion, and the company sold its locations in Cadillac, Mt. Pleasant, and Big Rapids. The remaining five locations are strong members of the communities in which they serve.
As John neared his retirement goal, Vance gradually assumed many of his father's responsibilities. Things moved along quickly, and plans were formed for Vance to purchase the Cheboygan and Gaylord locations in January of 1999. As plans often do, however, these plans changed when the restaurant next door to the jewelry store burned.
On the afternoon of August 18, 1998, John Reusch was just finishing some office work in the upstairs office of the jewelry store, and getting ready to fix some supper when Vance called. "Dad, you had better get ready to leave, Pappas' Restaurant is on fire." The fire crews worked successfully to contain the blaze to the restaurant, and the Reusch's left that night believing that their jewelry store had been spared.
With Christmas fast approaching and no jewelry store, the Reusch's needed to act fast. Vance purchased a building just two doors from the original location, and quickly began remodeling the location while refurbishing everything that could be salvaged from the old location. Two months of hard work later, and Reusch Jewelers was once again open for business in downtown Cheboygan with Vance at the helm.
In July of 2002, Vance took ownership of the Petoskey location. The Petoskey store is the original Reusch Jewelers' location, with a long history of involvement in the community.
Vance, along with the rest of his energetic staff, have brought some fresh new energy into the store. If you haven't stopped in lately, you'll be sure to see some exciting new lines of jewelry. We now have several new designer lines as well as some "updated" classics. Stop by, and speak with any one of our experienced staff for expert help with your jewelry needs. Whatever you are looking for in diamonds, gold, and colored gemstones, you're sure to find it at Reusch Jewelers.
We've seen countless changes since Jacob Reusch came to Petoskey in 1885, but we've also made sure that at least one thing never changes, and that is our dedication to providing the best in quality, beauty, and service.