This week’s Retailer of the Week honor goes to Craig Husar,
owner of Lyle Husar Designs in Brookfield, Wis. Husar reacted faster than a
paramedic to a 911 call when First Lady Tonette Walker, wife of Wisconsin Governor
Scott Walker, contacted the store owner with a “jewelry emergency.”
Although the First Lady had two lovely gowns picked out for
back-to-back black-tie events—one of them the Governor’s Inauguration Ball—she was in definite need of some fine jewelry.
The emergency call came on New Year’s
Day night. Just recovering from a busy holiday season at the store and at home,
Husar spent his first working hours of the new year pulling together 20 suites
of jewelry for a private showing on Sunday Jan. 2. The First Lady needed
jewelry for a fundraising event that night at Milwaukee’s historic Pfister
Hotel. Another jewelry suite was needed for Monday night’s Governor’s
Inauguration Ball in nearby Madison.
The First Lady found Husar thanks to a suggestion
from her dance instructor, who for many years was a loyal customer of Husar’s.
He liked Husar and his store so much he decided to work for the retail jeweler.
After the former sales associate blazed a new career path as a dance
instructor, he was once again a loyal customer to Lyle Husar Designs. When the
First Lady finished with a dance class just before New Year’s Day weekend, the
governor’s wife mentioned her jewelry emergency to the dance instructor. He
immediately recommended Husar.
The First lady arrived at Husar’s store Sunday afternoon for
the private showing with a friend. The Governor’s wife was willing to go to the
private showing at the urging of her friend, but was hesitant to purchase
anything lavish after learning that the editors of Merriam-Webster Dictionary named austerity their Word of the Year for 2010 the Monday before Christmas.
Husar sensed the First Lady’s moral dilemma when she
produced a pair of marcasite and silver earrings from her purse, the jewelry
she was going to wear for the black-tie events. “She was torn between wanting
to look her best for a once-in-a-lifetime event and knowing that many of her
fellow Milwaukeeans were suffering economic hardship,” says Husar. “I could
tell she was really struggling with the decision to buy jewelry.”
The store owner solved the dilemma by offering to let the
First Lady wear the jewelry at no charge for two nights. “Her friend and
shopping companion helped advance this idea,” says Husar. “I knew the First
Lady had graciously accepted my offer when the marcasite and silver earrings
went back into her purse.”
With a dark blue gown worn during Sunday evening’s
fundraiser, the First Lady wore a one-of-a-kind tanzanite and diamond necklace complemented
by a tanzanite ring, both original designs by Craig Husar. Diamond earrings and
a matching diamond bracelet completed the ensemble. At the Governor’s Inaugural
Ball, the First Lady wore a custom-designed diamond necklace, diamond drop
earrings, a diamond bracelet, and a diamond ring.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, First Lady Tonette Walker, and
Craig Husar at the Sunday evening fundraiser
To show her gratitude for all of his help in responding to
the First Lady’s jewelry emergency, Husar and his wife Danielle received
personal invitations for both the Sunday fundraiser and the Governor’s
Inaugural Ball the next evening.
Although Husar was an invited guest, he was still “on duty”
as the “unofficial official jeweler” to the First Lady those two days. Husar
can’t remember a time when he received so many compliments about his jewelry, and
from so many important leading members of Wisconsin’s political and business
Craig Husar helps First Lady Tonette Walker put on diamond
drop earrings before the Governor’s Inaugural Ball.
“I lost count of all the compliments and business cards I
handed out,” says Husar. “It was all such a blur. I sometimes had to pinch
myself it all seemed so much like a fairytale.”
In addition to networking with the who’s-who of Wisconsin’s political and business classes, Husar walked
away with two memorable moments from the events. “My favorite moment was when
Mrs. Walker whispered to me and said, ‘I feel like the Queen,’” says Husar.
The First Lady Tonette Walker pictured here with Craig Husar
and his wife Danielle.
The other came when Husar and his wife Danielle were helping
the First Lady with her jewelry in the Governor’s private suite just before
ball. As Danielle and the First lady were in the final stages of readying
themselves for the big event, Governor Walker and Husar were sitting around
watching the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears like a couple of average
guys waiting for their wives to get to dressed up before stepping out for a big
“The Packers beat the Bears,” says
Husar. “The two teams have always had a heated regional rivalry, making this a
big win. The game really got the Governor and all of his guests very excited
for the evening’s festivities. It just couldn’t have been a better night.”