Cancer forces shop owner to close
Jeweler liquidates inventory through holidays
By John Faucher
When Ranee Frank was still in high school, she had the opportunity to work at Fuhrmann’s Jewelers in downtown New London for one holiday season.
She liked it enough that when she graduated New London High School in 1992, she went on to pursue her Goldsmith degree and became a certified G.I.A. Gemologist.
She quickly became well known in the industry for quality workmanship and her knowledge of fine jewelry.
In 1995, Frank’s family established London Jewelers on New London’s north side. Frank worked full time in the store as a G.I.A. Gemologist providing custom jewelry design and repair services. She eventually became the store’s owner and operator.
Through the years, the store’s clientele grew, as did its reputation for personal service and a large selection of quality products.
In July, Frank was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Mucosal Melanoma. A short while later, she underwent surgery and spent the next eight weeks recovering. She continues to receive aggressive medical treatments in hopes to slow the progress of the disease.
“My world seems to revolve around doctor’s appointments,” said Frank.
By October, she realized it was becoming increasingly difficult to balance the demands of running a business against the time and energy needed to fight for her life.
“I decided to close the business and liquidate the inventory and fixtures in a going out of business sale,” said Frank. “My family is precious to me, and I want to spend as much time with them as I can.”
The decision to close the store was difficult, she said, because the business has been very successful.
She announced the news of the store closing to her customer base in early November and held a special three-day customer appreciation event.
A closeout sale continues with huge discounts throughout the holidays.
Five part-time employees assist Frank at the store. She also has the assistance of Susan Morales, a veteran marketing consultant who specializes in jewelry store transitions and retirement closures.
Frank continues to work at the store on days when she is feeling well enough.
“There are good days and bad days,” she said as she worked on a long list of projects to finish at the store.
Renee finished her last custom piece for a customer just one week earlier. She combined three rings into one single piece.
“The customer loved it,” said Frank.
“People have sentimental attachments to jewelry, but that’s because of the memories and people they symbolize with,” said Frank.
“I have a tree skirt that I will always cherish, because my mom made it for me,” she said.
She said she is thankful for the tremendous support from her customers and friends who have come into the store with cards, gifts, treats and flowers. “It’s been very emotional,” said Frank.
“The people in our life are the most important thing we have,” Frank said.
Morales said the amount of hugs, prayers and support going out for Frank has been tremendous.
“It’s amazing to see that kind of community support,” said Morales. “It’s been huge.”
Frank agreed it has been uplifting when she can be at the store to meet with friends and patrons through the sale.
“It’s a very aggressive type of cancer. I didn’t even know if I’d be here to run the sale,” she said.
Having Morales and the other staff there throughout the sale has helped give her peace of mind.