Berman’s Jewelers in Ellicott City, Md., is closing up shop.
The fine jewelry store, which is owned by Sam and Paula Fribush, was founded as pawn shop and jewelry store in 1910 by Isaac Berman. Sam’s father bought the store in 1955 with partner Herman Miller. Sam officially took over the shop in 1994. But he started working in the store—nights, weekends, and holidays—as a teenager.
Paula, who came on as bookkeeper for the business in 1988, told JCK the couple is retiring because, “Sam is just tired and worn out. The man literally hasn’t had a vacation in maybe 24 years. He’s overdue.”
The couple has been married since 1971, and Paula says she will miss their clients and “seeing Sam make everyone happy, which he does all the time.” But she’s looking forward to traveling to Florida (Sam’s never been on a plane before but wants to visit Epcot Center) and “just having time together—for day trips and just to enjoy our life. He’s definitely earned that.”
The store’s customer base has dwindled since the dawn of online shopping, she says—another reality that made the pair’s exit from the industry feel timely. “There are so many more people buying jewelry online,” she says. “And we’re seeing that young people just aren’t into jewelry, beyond watches and engagement rings, like older people are.”
Berman’s will close for good on June 16, following a storewide liquidation sale that includes merchandise discounted up to 70 percent off.
Sam, 70, told the Baltimore Sun that he will miss his clients, but recently found himself “taking the long way to work, driving slow,” which led to him feeling like his lifelong passion “was becoming a job.”
He explained, “This was never a job to me, I just liked it…. I’m going to miss my interaction with people.”
Top: Berman’s Jewelers in Ellicott City, Md. (courtesy Berman’s Jewelers)