Kansas Jeweler Reopens Store After Fire

When Benelli’s Jewelry in Pittsburg, Kan., suffered damage
from a fire in a neighboring hardware store on May 21, owner Bud Benelli was
not ready to give up his over 60-year career in the jewelry industry.

“I didn’t want to quit,” Benelli, 71, tells JCK.  “I just wanted to keep going.”   

Roughly a day after the fire, a friend suggested Benelli
look into purchasing a storefront across the street from his damaged store.
With the help of friends and family, Benelli reopened his store on June 13 in
the corner shop of the Hotel Stilwell in Pittsburg, Kan.

Benelli says most of his inventory escaped the blaze
unscathed. “We managed to save all the good stock in the safe,” he says. “My
friends and neighbors helped save and clean everything we could. My workbench
was the only thing that survived the fire.”

He was able to obtain watch repair equipment, another workbench, and supplies from retired watchmaker. Soon after, a competitor called as
asked how he could help. Benelli says he received nine display cases from his
competitor.

Benelli’s focuses on watch repairs and sells middle to low-end
jewelry. “The stuff that the big boys don’t want to work with,” he says.

His grandfather founded the store in 1903, and the store
moved its Pittsburg location in 1910. Benelli’s father took over the store in
1949. “I’ve been there since I was 9 years old. My dad owned the other store
and I worked for him, until he passed away.”

Benelli says the new location will likely receive more
exposure because it’s on the corner. “I want to bring in new stuff and make it
more modern,” he says. “It’s like starting brand-new. I’ve got more going for
me.”