November 12, 2002 11:00 pm
GOING OUT OF BUSINESS: A shopper heads to Mack and Sons Jewelers Tuesday. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
GOING OUT OF BUSINESS: A shopper heads to Mack and Sons Jewelers Tuesday. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

One of the longest operating businesses in Eastern Oregon is calling it quits here.

Mack and Sons Jewelers at 1202 Adams Ave. has announced that after 53 years of service to Eastern Oregon, the company is closing its La Grande store and selling the building and inventory.

"With considerable emotion and despite perhaps an uncertain future, my wife Sally and I wish to chart a new course to pursue other interests that we have been experimenting with these last few years," Joseph Mack stated in a letter addressed to "friends and valued customers."

The letter said that very shortly the store would list the building for sale and announce the liquidation of the merchandise in a going-out-of-business sale.

A special by-invitation-only sale was being held for favored customers Tuesday and Wednesday.

Fabian S. Mack opened the family's first store in Baker City in 1949. It closed in 1998 or 1999.

F.S. Mack and Sons opened in La Grande on Dec. 7, 1995, when Jerrold and Shirley Mack bought I.J. Gems from Jerold's brother, Joseph Mack.

Joseph Mack has been the manager of the La Grande Mack's store since.

When contacted Tuesday, Joseph Mack said he and his wife "just want to take some time off" before delving into any further business ventures. They want to spend more time raising two sons, 4 and 7.

Joseph Mack said he was associated with some real estate business in the area, including being involved with a La Grande RV resort.

"The jewelry business has been a big part of our whole family. We have developed a large clientele here and our customers have been good to us," he said.

The Eastern Oregon economy has been tough, generally, he said, "but since we've owned our own buildings, we've been able to make a fairly good living."

The family owned a store in Ontario, which it closed three or four years ago, Mack said. In 2001, after extensive research, Jerrold and Shirley Mack opened a jewelry store in St. George, Utah.