When Wes Barrow first started working in the jewelry business 22 years ago, he had no idea it would become his career—let alone that one day he would own his own store.
Barrow, the owner of Larc Jewelers, is celebrating the business’ 40th Anniversary this year and kicking off the celebration with a weekend filled with promotions at his downtown Glen Ellyn store.
While Larc is celebrating its 40th anniversary and is the oldest jewelry store in Glen Ellyn, Barrow has been the owner since 2001. Barrow began working at Larc when he was 22, he said.
The Glen Ellyn store was opened by its former owners and was originally called Larc Jewelers West. Until last spring, the store was north of the train tracks in downtown Glen Ellyn at 413 Main St. Last May, Barrow moved his location into a bigger space at 479 N. Main St.
The store sells diamonds and fancy gemstones, estate jewelry, William Henry knives and custom jewelry pieces. But, Larc Jewelers is also known for Barrow’s three French bulldogs, which are a draw for many customers and residents, he said.
“The dogs are the ambassadors of good will,” Barrow said. “But, I had no idea what impact they would make.”
The French bulldogs—Winston, 8, Violet, 9, and Wallace, 15 months old—spend time in the store and enjoy greeting customers, Barrow said.
He never considered bringing Winston to work until one day an employee said, he was the boss and could do what he wanted. Now, the pups hang out with him and enjoy regular visits.
Barrow said he has no idea whether the dogs have helped him close a sale, but they have been a draw for the store and customers enjoy stopping in to pet the dogs and give them treats.
Another draw for customers to the store is the type of jewelry Larc sells.
“What I specialize in that sets us apart is rather than selling big names, I work with smaller manufacturers who make quality products at a reasonable price,” he said.
The store has many loyal customers who make up a majority of its customers, but Barrow said the business also attracts a younger clientele that may not have the budget for high-end jewelry brands.
In addition, the store’s offering of William Henry products also draws a specific clientele, looking for the intricately designed knives and pens.
The new space, which doubled his square footage, allowed Barrow to expand the offerings at the store, he said.
The jewelry store also employs a master watchmaker and a designer who can create custom-designed jewelry or rework older pieces. The business is diverse and also buys jewelry, silver, gold and silver flatware and service.
As in any jewelry store, a major component of the business is selling engagement rings. That is often the way Barrow said he builds relationships with his customers, who may need other gifts after they are married.
“I don’t want to be a cookie-cutter store,” he said. “The biggest thing in retail is dealing with the public and you encounter a million different personalities. I try to listen to what the customer says and what they really want. The most important thing for me is to see that people leave with a smile on their face and that they trust us.”