The Jewelry Box on Broadway Revere is more than a place to buy and sell gold and jewelry; after 35 years, it has become a symbol of family.
That’s precisely why owner Tom Yourawski is known as ‘Uncle Tommy’ by people far and wide on the North Shore – people use the term ‘uncle’ because they’ve known him forever and he’s become like family to them.
This week, Yourawski and his grandson/co-owner Justin Puopolo celebrated their 35th year in business with a small ceremony on Tuesday morning. It’s a pat on the back for the business just in time for their 35th Christmas shopping season.
“I’m tight with a lot of these families in this area and I’m intermingled with a lot of them,” said Yourawski. “It’s not only community we’re a part of, it’s family here in many ways. That’s a good thing. You walk into the Jewelry Box – whether you’re buying or selling – and you always feel comfortable. Always did and always will.”
Looking back on 35 years, Yourawski said he has reflected on the business success of the store – noting that they sold more than $1 million worth of jewelry during its heyday – but said it is his place in the community that makes him the most proud.
“I have felt more safe and part of the community here in Revere,” he said. “This is a community business. It’s community to sell. It’s community to be active on business boards with the City and community to have a team in the Little League year in and year out. It’s community when seniors come in here ask me for help and know I’m not going to rip them off. That’s a very nice thing to look back on and to look forward to.”
He also pointed to the fact that many of his customers are third generation.
“We are on our third generation now with many of the families that do business at the Jewelry Box,” he said. “A man will come in and wants to get diamond earrings for his wife on their anniversary. Then I see a little girl come in with her parents and that’s nice because I know they’re still together. Then I see that daughter go to college and she comes in with her boyfriend one day and he wants to buy her something. Then they get done with college and move on to the next step in life, and maybe they get engaged and they come in to find a ring. They all came in here and over the years we played a part in the happy times of that family.”
Yourawski got into the jewelry business quite by accident.
He had been an insurance underwriter in Boston and had a store where he sold TVs here in his hometown of Revere. Gradually, he saw an opportunity to sell solid gold chains as they were very popular at the time. Then, he began to see that perhaps being a jeweler was his calling.
“I decided I would learn everything I could about being a jeweler and I learned from people in the business and took a lot of courses as a jeweler,” he said. “You have to know what you’re doing.”
Yourawski took some good advice and bought a good safe and – after a short stint at the corner of Broadway and Mountain Avenue – he decided to buy his current building at 345 Broadway. That has been another key to his success, having virtually no overhead costs.
“I don’t care what business it is, you are what your landlord charges you in rent,” he said. “If he hits you with a big increase, then that hits your business hard. We don’t and never have had to deal with that.”
After buying the building at what he says was a cheap price for the times ($28,000), he remodeled the showroom and opened for business just in time for the Christmas rush of 1977.
And he continued like that year in and year out until things began to change in the business.
“This place is like a dying breed in our local business districts,” he said. “People used to go to their local jewelry stores in their towns – like in East Boston, Chelsea and Winthrop. One by one all those people died out. No one replaced them. I’m one of the only ones left. I don’t know where you can go into a downtown area and see a store with 16 cases of jewelry. We’re still here and people come in because they like this.”
But their business has changed, and Yourawski is good at changing with the times. Part of the key to his success has been switching from a store that mostly sells to a store that mostly buys. He said things changed a few years ago, and he quickly realized he needed to change with the times or get out of the business.
“At this time five years ago, all the sudden our customers started to bring their jewelry back to us,” he said. “They weren’t desperate, but they had seen the price of gold on TV. The styles had changed and the light bulb went on in their heads. They wanted to bring in their old jewelry and gold, sell it to me and upgrade to something new.
“What I did is I went back to square one and learned all about this new trend of buying – how to buy, how much people pay and what is a fair price,” he continued. “After that, I figured I could do this. Really, I had no choice.”
After reinventing his store, he has become one of the most popular outlets for gold buying in the Greater Boston area – known for giving the fairest prices and offering the best deals.
“We learned to treat everyone fairly, like family, and so we never got greedy and ripped people off with this new business,” he said. “Some get greedy, but the consumer isn’t stupid – they’ll find out.”
Now, 35 years later, Yourawski said he is glad that his store is staying in the family with his grandson, and even more, he is happy that he has been part of so many happy occasions for people in Revere, Winthrop, Chelsea, East Boston and Everett.
“To me, this became part of my life,” he said. “The best part about it was this is a happy store. I worked in a happy business all my life. Jewelry is something that makes people happy. I made more women happy on the North Shore than any other kind of store. It’s a nice thing to help people.”
The Jewelry Store is located at 345 Broadway, Revere, and will be open through the holidays for all your holiday buying (and selling) needs.