By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
Wesley Jewelers will close its doors in the coming days after nearly two-thirds of a century in Upper Montclair. Owner Ken Scheren said the store will shut down at the end of April or the beginning of May.
The Valley Road store first opened in 1956 under original owner Mike Wesley. Wesley later sold the store to Frank Horonsy, who was the owner up until 1985. In 1985, Ken Scheren bought the store.
Scheren, 66, has been in the jewelry business since he was a teenager. He started at the age of 16, working for a small jewelry store in Wayne.
“I was doing repair work, working on the bench,” Scheren said. “I like working with my hands. It’s natural.”
Between 1981 and 1982, Scheren owned his first store, with a partner, in Cranford. He worked in the store for four years before deciding to buy his own store.
“The gentleman that opened the store [Mike Wesley] contacted me years back because he knew I was in the business, and I was looking for a store,” Scheren said.
His decision to buy Wesley Jewelers was simple: it was closer to his Little Falls home and it was in a nice area.
Scheren kept the name of the store “because of tradition,” he said. “It was sort of like a staple in town, so why bother changing it.”
The reception to the new owner was warm, he said. Scheren remembered how nice customers were to him when he first opened the store, with many continuing to shop there.
“I enjoyed the past 35 years greatly,” Scheren said.
Scheren has seen Upper Montclair change throughout the years. There were once more retail stores and fewer restaurants, Scheren said. But he doesn’t complain: He said the changes have helped the area grow.
“Plus, it brings people to the town,” Scheren said.
In its 65 years, Wesley Jewelers has only closed once — during the lockdowns prompted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Scheren said when the store reopened after two months, customers started coming back immediately.
Scheren continued helping customers. Some needed broken watches fixed, or batteries changed. Others wanted help finding perfect gifts for birthdays, anniversaries or other occasions they’d missed in the lockdown.
Scheren said he didn’t request any federal assistance because the customers were coming back.
“The town has been very helpful,” Scheren said. “No complaints.”
Even though the business did not suffer during this past year, Scheren said he knew it was time to retire from the jewelry business after 51 years working in the field.
“My wife is retiring as well,” Scheren said. “So, it was time to do it. “
Scheren said his customers are sad that the store is closing since some have been coming to Wesley Jewelers since it first opened in 1956.
And some of the customers are like family, Scheren said, because they have been supporting him for the 35 years since he took ownership of the store. He’s grateful for the support he’s received over the past few weeks, since announcing his retirement.
Several responded to Facebook posts from Montclair Local about the closure, wishing Scheren well.
“I always appreciated Ken’s professional and kind demeanor, whether making a major gift purchase or having a watch repaired,” Mare Marg wrote. “I was always treated like a valued customer. I’m happy for him — yet will miss his shop.”
Stuart Keil called Scheren “a great merchant” and “a credit to Upper Montclair.”
Scheren doesn’t know what is going to happen to the store’s location. But he knows for certain it won’t be another jewelry store.
Even with the closure of Wesley Jewelers, one jewelry store will remain very nearby — at Frederic’s Fine Jewelers, right down the block from Wesley’s, on Bellevue Avenue.