Over the past 75 years Edmund T. Ahee Jewelers has reached the heights of serving metro Detroit, earning accolades across Michigan and fans from around the world for the store’s legendary customer service and charitable giving.
So, for the Grosse Pointe Woods–based jewelry store’s diamond jubilee anniversary, co-owners and siblings Peter Ahee and Pam Ahee Thomas and the other 20-plus members of the Ahee family who work in and around the store did what Edmund would do: They gave back to the community once again.
The jeweler’s 75th celebration includes a variety of free, in-store events including Roberto Coin and Mikimoto trunk shows, a special broadcast with a Detroit radio station, and a Santa event for the area kids and families. They’re even bringing in a jazz band to perform on weekends during the holidays to recall when the store was founded in the 1940s.
But the most noticeable and celebrated thing the Ahee family did? They paid for all 900 parking meters in Grosse Pointe Woods along the street where the store is located, allowing parking free for anyone visiting Mack Avenue to shop, dine, or stroll from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.
The reaction to all of the store’s events for this anniversary has been exciting, Peter Ahee says. But the explosion of sentiment around that free parking has been unexpected and heartfelt, he and Pam Ahee Thomas say. They’ve received countless social media posts of gratitude, but they also got sweet gifts from nearby retailers and friends to say “thanks” for making their holiday season so bright.
“We had fun planning it, and now we’re enjoying the reaction,” says Peter, who started working with his father Edmund in 1974 and now serves as the jewelry store’s president. “My dad always used to say: ‘We’re so lucky we’re in a business of making people happy.’”
Edmund T. Ahee Jewelers opened in 1947 in a Detroit bowling alley owned by Edmund’s uncle. That’s the same year that Edmund married Bettejean, who was his partner in life as well as in the store, the Ahee family says. That first bowling alley store carried a variety of household items, even vacuum cleaners.
After four years, Edmund was ready to grow into a new space, moving down the street in the same block as the bowling alley on Harper and Van Dyke. Their biggest move came in 1968 when the store moved to an old DeSoto car dealership on Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods—Bettejean had a vision for the store, and she made it happen.
Over the next few decades, Ahee became known as a community jeweler, serving its customers with style and grace. The store was a happening with live music and treats for its customers. Edmund continued to find rare treasures to share with customers, including the estate jewelry of heiress Matilda Dodge Wilson.
The store also became known for offering custom work, cleaning services, and everything in between, allowing customers to make, buy, and transform jewelry all in house, Peter says. More importantly, the Ahee family shared that success with their charitable partners, including Edmund’s personal choice, Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
Peter Ahee says his father lost his own dad at age 13, and he had to leave school and help take care of his siblings and mother. Edmund recalled seeing kids in line waiting for food at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, and he knew he, too, was always one emergency away from needing its help. Ahee as a company has always created events and donated funds to this cause, Peter says, because his dad loved its mission. To date, the family has raised more than $7 million for the soup kitchen.
Edmund died in 1999, and Bettejean died in 2020. But their legacy lives on through the Ahee name and its reputation as a stellar jewelry store and community supporter, Peter and Pam say. Pam also says they are thankful for their staff and customers, who have been with them all along the way.
“They’ve become family,” Pam says. “We’re so grateful to the community for supporting us all these years.”
Top: Edmund and Bettejean Ahee were community-minded jewelers who started their retail and jewelry company in 1947. The business, which is still run by the second, third, and fourth generations of the Ahee family, is celebrating its 75th anniversary by doing a variety of events around metro Detroit (photo courtesy of Edmund T. Ahee Jewelers).@jckmagazine
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