W-B is losing a jewel
Last Modified: March 29. 2013 9:01AM
WILKES-BARRE – Lynn Ahmad, one of the owners of Bartikowsky Jewelers was nostalgic on Friday about her lifetime in the business that will shut its doors today, marking the end of an era.
Ahmad never looked back after she left teaching to assume her role as part of four generations of family members – over 125 years – to own and operate the South Main Street business, she said.
“But today I am looking back,” said Ahmad, 62. “I'm thinking abut my father and grandfather and grandmother. I'm thinking about all of the years – from childhood until now – of my time in and out of this store.”
Ahmad had a sense of satisfaction, she said. The family served the community well, both as a retail jeweler and as a community and civic contributor, the said.
“We gave back in many ways,” she said. “And I know I intend to continue being involved with the community – I will probably even increase my time.”
Ahmad's uncle, Max Bartikowsky, said he has mixed emotions about the store's closing. “I'm happy, yet I'm sad,” he said. “It's been a great run. We've developed so many relationships – friendships – with so many people.”
Bartikowsky and Ahmad said the store's employees and customers are like extended family to them. They talked of the weddings, christenings and anniversaries that they helped make special with their merchandise and how they've attended many of the events.
“We built our business on customer service,” Bartikowsky said. “We're going to miss it all.”
Lon and Sue Zimolzak of Huntington Mills browsed the near-empty counters Friday in search of one last Bartikowsky treasure. They bought their wedding bands there, and Sue's mother's engagement ring was purchased at the store when it was located on Public Square.
“There were many Christmas seasons we stood in line here,” Sue Zimolzak said. “The service has always been great and the merchandise is top quality. The employees always made it a pleasure to shop here.”
“Bartikowsky's is an institution in this area,” Lon Zimolzak said.
Many of Bartikowsky's 25 employees have logged more than 20 years of service. Lynn Ahmad said she feels close to them and will miss them.
Marian Czarnowski has worked as floor manager and buyer for Bartikowsky's for 22 years. She said the entire operation, from ownership on down, has been a wonderful experience. “So many customers have become our close friends,” she said.
Patty Zipko has worked at the store for 29 years. The store's closing has been “heart-wrenching” for her, she said.
“Where else could you go and be with family and have fun for 29 years at work?” she asked. “The bond between employees and the owners and our customers will never be broken.”
• Bartikowsky Jewelers was founded in 1887 by Max Bartikowsky, who emigrated to the United States in 1880 from his home on the border of Germany and Lithuania.
• In 1905 the first store opened on Main Street in Kingston.
• In 1927 Max's son Bernard took over the company and in 1948 purchased a three-story building on Public Square. Bernard's sons, Leonard and Max, joined the business, as did his son-in-law, the late Jay Karnofsky.
• In 1957 Bartikowsky's became a local pioneer of catalog showroom merchandising by publishing a four-color catalog. The catalog ended in 1988.
• In 1972 the Agnes Flood forced the store to a temporary location until the corporation bought a large building in 1978, the current location on South Main Street.
• Bernard Bartikowsky died in 1990 at age 92. His son Leonard retired in 1994 and his son-in-law Jay Karnofsky, the corporation's longtime president, retired in 1999.
• Jay Karnofsky's son-in-law Mac Ahmad, current vice-president/COO of the corporation, joined the business 31 years ago. Along with Jay's daughter Lynn Karnofsky-Ahmad, secretary-treasurer, and Max Bartikowsky, Bernard's youngest son and current president/CEO, they continued the Bartikowsky tradition.