News: Loyal Locals - Prior’s Jewelry (1973)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Prior

----Source: Tribune Gleaner Record (Loyal, Clark Co., WI) 12/13/1973

Prior’s Jewelry (13 December 1973)

Mingling with Mary

Going into business today on $100 may not be a very wise decision, but back in 1945 Bob and Dorothy Prior did and for them it has proven to be a very wise decision and one that brings a lot of enjoyment.

Owners and operators of Prior’s Jewelry in Loyal, the Prior’s had their first place of business in the corner lot, north of the old water tower. The store consisted of two rooms, one for the jewelry, and the other for the repairing of radios and televisions, later to be dropped from the business.

Asked how he became interested in the watch and clock repair business, Bob stated, “When I was a child and my father was sick with pneumonia, the nurse who was caring for him gave me an alarm clock to take apart and put back together again, and ever since I have enjoyed working with watches and clocks. While I was in the service, I also repaired watches for my friends and on occasion even hand built a few parts to be able to fix them.”

In 1946 the Prior’s went to Missouri so Bob could attend watch making school, and in 1948 returned to the area. The business of television repairing was a “big boom” according to the Priors. The television was a very new invention at the time, and if something went wrong, the customer wanted his fixed as soon as possible.

In 1957, the priors built the present store which has been remodeled and expanded. In 1962, the radio and TV repair part of the store was dropped, and the area was converted to provide for more jewelry and smaller gifts.

Reflecting on the business many years ago, Dorothy states that the first thing that was sold in the jewelry part was watch bands which were made of metal. Earrings were perhaps the most purchased dress jewelry, and many purchased Bulova watches.

“Jewelry seems to fun in fads, as a lot of other things do,” states Dorothy, “for one season it is beads, and other season it is bracelets or chains. But, if people would keep their old jewelry, they would find that in time it would be in style.” Reflecting on the style changes in jewelry, Dorothy states, “No matter how the styles do change, almost all the articles are hand assembled, which takes (words missing).

Both Mr. and Mrs. Prior have seen the change in jewelry and clocks. Diamonds are perhaps the most thought of jewelry when it comes to the store, and the Priors are well aware of their value and that no two people ever think alike when it comes to picking out that “special” ring. “Most men bring in their girlfriend when it comes to picking out the ring. Smaller stones and gold seem to be the favorite of most girls,” the Priors remarked.

As to why people come into the store, everyone has a different reason according to the Priors. Men usually come in with a girlfriend or wife, women come in for most everything, and high school girls can be noted for “wishing” over the diamond case. But, no matter what they come in for, the average amount of time spent in the store is a half hour to an hour.

Noting the advancement in the jewelry business, the Priors remark “Perhaps a great improvement was the invention of the battery-operated clock. The idea and look of a clock without a cord is much more becoming to a wall and a room than having a cord. Hanging was also a problem with the electric clock, for you had to put the clock by the outlet and now it can be hung any place in a room.”

According to Dorothy, “The jewelry business is enjoyable for I work with so many people. One of the things that people may not think of a being a problem in the store is keeping the jewelry shiny and free of dust. It’s amazing how often each piece of jewelry has to be dusted off because of the dust that is accumulated.” Dorothy also enjoys working with the different types of dishes that are also available at the store.

For Bob, the enjoyment of the store is perhaps the fixing of old clocks – one of his greatest loves. Anyone who has visited the store will see many clocks of antique value.

To keep up with the changes in the clock business the Priors enjoyed a 17-day vacation in Switzerland. “We never saw so many clocks in one place,” stated Dorothy, “everywhere we went, there were clocks of all types. We wanted to tour a clock factory, but we were not allowed to for various reasons, including that the tourists slow down the workers, but we still were informed by people who were connected to the factories.” “It was a rewarding trip in so many ways,” added Bob.

Both Loyal born, Mr. and Mrs. Prior have four children, Mike in Wausau, Scott at Ladysmith, and Mitch, and Maureen, both attending Loyal High School.

For Dorothy and Bob Prior, the business that was started on $100 has proven to be a business that lets them meet people from all over, and in many ways a means of continuing their hobbies of working with jewelry and clocks, and together the two of them add a spark to the City of Loyal.



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