Dan Grunwald said Tuesday that he and Martha are retiring after 38 years in the jewelry business in downtown Geneva.
"I’m excited, apprehensive, sad—all these emotions all at the same time," he said. "I’ve never done retirement before, I don’t know if I’m doing it right."
"I’ve put it off for a long time," he added. "We’re still profitable, we’re doing well. So we're kind of asking ourselves, 'Are we stupid to do this?' But we still have our health and most of our brain cells, so we said, 'Let’s do some of the things we’ve been wanting to do.' "
Among the reasons for Dan's excitement are the prospects for selling , which has been a mainstay at 12 S. Third St. for a generation.
"We’ve had some interest in the store," he said. "In fact, we've got a couple people interested. We'll just see how it plays out."
Grunwald said the original plan for the "going out of business" process was to sell off the remaining inventory and retire, maybe as soon as the end of March. But with the proposals to buy the business, that timetable is likely to change.
"I’m kind of picky, too," he said. "It's not going to be somebody who sells gold at 50 percent off. It’s got to be somebody who likes the way we do business."
Dan Grunwald comes from a family of Geneva jewelers. His dad grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, but cranked up the old Model T and found his way to California to seek his fortune during the Depression. Once there, he found a job going door to door, buying gold and often selling it to the government. Dan's dad then went to England during the war years and got into the antiques business. He brought that knowledge back to Geneva and opened a store on State Street.
"I didn’t realize I had picked up any knowledge of this stuff, but somehow I must have over the years," Dan said. "My sister opened the old Bargain Corner. We bought that and ran it for a number of years, then established ourselves in antique jewelry. For a long time, we were in semi-competition with my dad, although he was more antiques and we've always been more jewelry and contemporary jewelry."
One lesson Dan learned from his dad stayed with him, and has been part of Dan's business philosophy for these 38 years, as well.
"He did what he loved to do," Dan said.
One thing Dan wanted to emphasize was that the jewelry business is doing well, and he and Marty were making a lifestyle decision rather than just going out of business. He's also extremely optimistic about the prospects, not only for the jewelry store but for downtown Geneva.
"This is not because of the economy," he said. "Geneva is absolutely the greatest place in the world to have a business. It’s just a magical place. We’ve been lucky enough and privileged enough to be here longterm. I’ve been able to make a good living just doing what I love. There’s very little gravel on this road.
"We hear some things about Geneva and stores being empty, but this is a constant thing," he added. "People come in when they're in their 30s or 40s and open a unique little store. They retire, and in a few years someone else comes in with something unique and interesting."
He noted Third Street stores like the and , which he said are one-of-a-kind places you just won't find in other towns or shopping malls.
In retirement, Dan and Marty hope to spend more time with their daughter and her husband, both teachers in Marengo, and their daughters—Dan and Marty's "grandbabies"—Alyssa, 5, and Ashley, 1.
"They are the most intelligent and beautiful and funniest grandchildren in the world," Dan said.
Dan also hopes to continue freelance writing for a sports car market magazine, something he started doing for fun and profit about 12 years ago. He enjoys antique and classic cars and writing about them. Writing assignments will give the Grunwalds an excuse to do some traveling, and Dan said he's looking forward to being able to take about 30 days off in a row—something that's pretty hard to do when you're in the retail business.
But they're likely to stay rooted here, close to family and the community they love so much.
"I’m excited about Geneva still," Dan said.