For 75 years, Fletcher’s Jewelry has been selling clocks, watches and jewelry in downtown Waupaca.
“In 1934, my father came to town. He worked for an eye doctor and jeweler,” said Mike Fletcher. “In 1937, he went out on his own across the street.”
His father, the late Myron “Mike” Fletcher grew up on a farm in Royalton.
Mike explained how his father came to be a jeweler.
“He had polio in both legs. He wouldn’t have made a good farmer,” Mike said.
Myron was joined by his brother Kenneth in heading to Illinois to go to the Elgin Watchmaker’s College.
After completing their schooling, they went into business together in Hortonville, until Myron decided to move to Waupaca.
When he opened Fletcher’s Jewelry in 1937, it was a small shop in the front of the former Ed Abraham building across the street from their current location.
“I can remember it,” Mike said.
The business was located there until about the late 1940s. Then it moved to the 200 block of North Main Street in what is now the Waupaca Community Arts Center.
Mike took over the business in 1968.
“Mother (Ethel) had passed away. Dad was open one to two days per week. He was ready to be done,” Mike said. “I had a back injury, so I thought I’d try this.”
Up until then, Mike had not worked with his father.
Mike was working full time for Holly’s-Waupaca Ambulance and continued to do so for 10 years, while also running the business.
“At the same time, I was on the Waupaca Fire Department for about 32 more years. Now, I’m off both of those but am still at the store,” he said.
In 1974, Fletcher’s Jewelry moved just a bit south – to 118 N. Main St. – which is where it has since been located.
Mike’s son Jeff began working there in the late 1970s. He was in high school at the time, and a work co-op program allowed him to spend the last one to two hours of the school day in a workplace setting.
“I worked with my grandfather on clocks,” he said.
After graduating from Waupaca High School in 1980, Jeff apprenticed with a local jeweler and then joined his father in the business.
Jeff’s wife Pat started working part time at Fletcher’s in 1981 and became full time in 1983. The couple has two daughters: Leah and Jessica.
Mike and his wife Carol also have a daughter, Lisa, who lives in Cottage Grove, Minn. She has three daughters: MaKenna, LaKendra and AuBrenna.
Mike’s sister, Donzella Anderson, works part time at the store. She worked for their father when she was in high school and has been working at the store again for about the last five years.
When Mike’s father left the business, one of the reasons why was because clocks and watches were going from being wind-ups to being electronic, Mike said.
Jeff remembers working on many mechanical clocks and watches when he first started working there.
Today, Fletcher’s Jewelry continues to sell clocks, watches, and, of course, jewelry.
Pat said they also have crystal and items that are perfect gifts for newborns. “We try to be full service,” she said.
It is Pat who makes all the decisions about what to order for the store.
“That’s the job I hated the most, so I gave it to Patti,” Mike said with a smile. “I would rather be waiting on customers than waiting for salesmen, and she was better at putting a ring on a pinky.”
In addition, when Mike first got into the business, he was often on an ambulance or a fire call, so it made sense for Pat to do the ordering.
During the years she has worked in the business, she has seen trends come and go.
Today, white gold and sterling are the popular metals.
“We try to keep new, current things, like beads and different fashions and the crystal jewelry,” Pat said. “We try to keep things that are affordable for everyone with a price range of under $50 to thousands of dollars.”
Fletcher’s Jewelry has a large inventory and will place special orders for customers.
They do custom pieces and also watch, clock and jewelry repairs. They have a large customer base, and Pat said, “The hardest thing is getting people to realize we’re here and offer the same or more for their value.”
Fletcher’s anniversary celebration included giving away a one-carat diamond anniversary ring.
The winner was chosen on Monday, Aug. 6, and it was Kelly Waala, of Waupaca.
As the Fletcher family reminisced about the past 75 years, they talked about what they most like about the business.
“I enjoy what I’m doing,” Mike said. “I like the people.”
Jeff enjoys working with the jewelry and being part of Waupaca’s downtown business community, saying that is a large part of their success.
Pat likes the the people she meets.
“It’s fun to help pick out surprises for people,” she said. “We just hope to be he here for a long time to come. The success of our business has been our customers.”