AVON LAKE - For more than 60 years, Jan Jewelers has bedazzled area residents, selling rings, bracelets, watches and other jewelry. The Avon Lake jewelry store will close in a few months as owners Mike and Athena Janapolis prepare to relax and retire.
"I will miss seeing the customers,” said Mike, 67, who expects the store will close in the spring. “Avon Lake has been very good to us. Now, I'm excited about retirement." He said he considered selling the business before deciding to close.
Jan Jewelers, in The Landings plaza at 445 Avon Belden Road, Suite B2, was started by Mike Janapolis' father, George, in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1943. George Janapolis had just been discharged from the military due to a heart condition. His son related how his father remembered taking a test designed to fit students with a trade. The test showed he was good at working with his hands and that he would do best being a mortician or a jeweler. He chose the latter.
George Janapolis moved to Cleveland in 1948 and worked for a number of jewelers in the former Scofield Building at East 9th Street and Euclid Avenue. In 1958, he and his wife, Stella, opened a shop on the northwest corner of State Route 83 and Walker Road in still rural Avon Lake. A few years later, he moved the shop to Lake Road across from the Scoggin Ford auto dealership, now Kowalski Ford. In 1973, Jan Jewelers became one of the first tenants in The Landings.
Jan's is one of the longest continuous family-run businesses in Avon Lake. The only interruption came in 1999 when a fire closed the store for five months.
Mike Janapolis, a 1970 graduate of Avon Lake High School, started out by engraving jewelry for his father in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He joined his father full time in the early 1980s. Stella Janapolis died at age 79 in 2000 and George Janapolis died at age 80 in 2001, not long after he retired.
Athena, an Avon Lake native, married Mike in 2013 and has worked in the shop for 10 years. “When I was little, I don't know how many times I asked him (George Janapolis) to teach me how he made things," Athena Janapolis said. "I loved going in there. I love talking to the people who come in here now.”
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