FARMINGTON — John N. Anderson, owner of Trask Jewelers, has decided to retire and spend more time with his 95-year-old father.
Those that he approached about buying the store all indicated that they weren’t interested in working that hard. Thus, the longest continuous store in the downtown will close and bring about the end of an era.
Anderson said that the store was founded in 1855 by the Blake family. Father and son operated the store until 1928 when their watchmaker, Lindsay Trask, bought them out.
Trask was the owner until 1955 when he sold out to his watchmaker, Paul H. Anderson, who is also John’s father.
John began working in the shop sweeping floors at the age of 7 and was grading jewels by the time he was 9 years old. He began working at Trask Jewelers full time in 1975, right after graduating from college.
He bought the store from his father in 1981.
While he knows that it is time for him to retire, John did look for someone to take over the business. He sees a definite need for a jewelry store in the area and is disappointed that the business would be closing after more than 158 years of service.
John has been moved by the hundreds of people who came in to tell him “good luck,” wish him well and shake his hand.
“It’s hard for me to let go, but it’s time,” he said. He plans to spend time with his dad, who still fixes watches in Florida.
“A small business is a jealous mistress,” John said. “It takes a lot of time and dedication.”
During his time in the jewelry business, John has repaired just about everything and has gone out of his way to “fix items with sentimental value but not much monetary value,” he said.
Others in the business have questioned why he does such repairs, but John recognized that it meant something to those he helped and continued the practice.
Trask Jewelers started as a 19th-century store and John has run it using pencil and paper and a hand-cranked register. This is the electronic age, though, and a few concessions were made along the way. John has seen many changes throughout the industry and many of the older, familiar jewelers are no longer in business, either.
A 1926 edition of the Strout Service Index lists the company as Blake Jewelers. The Franklin County Business and Personal Directory listed the store’s motto as “a square deal at a fair price.” Each owner stood behind that sentiment and offered personal service to their customers.
John stated that his roots are here in Farmington. He is a deacon of the Baptist Church and wants to continue that association. He is thinking about opening up a part-time shop for repair work during the warmer months when he is in the area, but it will depend on his father’s health.
“I want to thank the people of Farmington and Franklin County for their support over the years,” he said.
Many of the people who shopped at Trask Jewelers were third- or fourth-generation customers. John expects that he will miss them as much as perhaps they will miss him.