WILKES-BARRE TWP. — A familiar clock hangs on the wall at the new RACO Watch and Jewelry store on state Route 309.
The clock was a gift from Max Bartikowsky to two of his former employees — Ron Antolick and Carol Hannon — owners of the new store. Antolick worked at Bartikowsky’s for 23 years and Hannon was employed there for 26 years.
When Antolick and Hannon opened the doors to their new venture, a definite Bartikowsky’s flavor was in the air. In addition to the clock, the store has display cases from Bartikowsky’s. And while a reporter was visiting, two former co-workers — Terry Hahn and JoAnn Nat — came to browse.
“I’m really overwhelmed for them; this is very emotional,” Hahn said. “They will be successful, for sure. They will have the following of Bartikowsky’s customers. This is a special day.”
Nat and Hahn are friends of Antolick and Hannon. Nat said she was thrilled and excited for the store’s opening.
“Ron and Carol are two of the most competent jewelry people I know,” Nat said. “I would trust them with anything and customers should feel confident bringing their jewelry here.”
Joe Palischak of Larksville stopped in to get a watch repaired. A longtime customer of Bartikowsky’s, he said he couldn’t wait for the store to open.
Antolick, 45, and Hannon, 50, live in Ashley.
“We expect some trials and tribulations,” Antolick said. “We will continue to add items as we grow and get established.”
Antolick said RACO will be a full-service jeweler. He attended the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, Calif., and he will repair all jewelry and watches.
After having reported for work at Bartikowsky’s for 23 years, Antolick now realizes he and Hannon bear all responsibilities of store operations.
“It’s a totally different feeling,” he said. “It’s good in the sense that we have the freedom to do things the way we want to do them, but on the other hand, we’ve lost that sense of security. The responsibility of our success rests completely on our shoulders.”
Hannon said former Bartikowsky’s employee Nikki Stapleton will continue the add-a-pearl feature that was very popular. Hannon also said a grand opening will be April 13 with a ribbon cutting, giveaways and snacks.