State Street Jewelers announced Saturday that it will move into the landmark building that for decades was the home of the Merra-Lee.
Owner Jeffery Hampton said Saturday that the business is going to be moving form its longtime location at 214 W. State to the high-profile corner of State and Thrid, probably sometime in the late spring or early summer.
"It's the right thing for the business," he said Saturday morning. "I didn't want to get bids (for interior renovation) until after the holidays, but I have a design, and we're excited to get started."
The Merra-Lee closed its doors almost exactly a year ago, in January 2012. The business had been part of the Geneva landscape since 1929.
It's hard to imagine a more appropriate tenant than State Street Jewelers, which has been a downtown mainstay for more than a quarter century, and was Anderson Jewelers for 37 years before that.
The news piggybacks on the recent opening of Perlman Fine Jewelry in the Erday Building, kitty corner to the Merra-Lee. Just six months ago, the intersection of State and Third had vacancies in three of its four corners. Come this spring, all four corners will have vital businesses that could anchor the downtown business district for many years.
The move also enhances Geneva's reputation as a jewelry destination. Fox Jewelers is located at 307 W. State St., and Matson Jewelry is at 312 S. Third St.
"We’ll have our little lifestyle mall downtown here, I guess," Hampton said. "Generally speaking, if one business attracts a customer, it's good for all the businesses around it."
State Street Jewelers, for example, is the place you might go to buy the perfect wedding ring.
"We tend to focus a little more on bridal-business diamonds, and a lot is custom," Hampton said.
State Street Jewelers' Donna Zollner recently announced her retirement, and there were a number of sales during the holiday season. The news that State Street Jewelers isn't leaving but is in fact moving into the prime real estate of Third and State bodes well for Geneva's downtown in 2013.
And Hampton said business at State Street Jewelers is going strong, even in a tough economy.
"It’s been really amazing," he said. "I'm shocked and surprised and thrilled."