This year, Jim Eaves celebrates 50 years in the jewelry business in Owensboro.
And he’s not thinking about retirement.
For the past 16 years, Eaves has operated B & E Design & Repair, 315 Washington Ave.
“I value my customers,” he said this week. “It was a good race. But I don’t plan to retire. I need to take care of myself. I always like to come to work.
But, says Eaves, “I’ve downsized since the pandemic. I am no longer open on weekends. My hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
He began his career at age 10 in Cairo, Illinois in the late 1950s.
His father, Rye Eaves, had three jewelry stores in Illinois, which he opened after returning from World War II.
“He started engraving me when I was 10,” Eaves said. “I was making lighters, bracelets, things like that. He taught all of us children.
After high school, he went to Gem City College School of Horology in Quincy, Illinois to learn more about the craft.
In 1972 Eaves moved to Owensboro.
“I used to work for my dad, but a young man wants to make it on his own,” he said. “A salesman told me that Oscar Grant of M&M Jewelers wanted to hire a jeweler and a watchmaker.”
So Eaves moved to Kentucky
Later he worked for Lloyd & Pat’s Jewelry & Gifts and Zales.
Later still, Eaves’ brother moved to Owensboro and they opened a store in Fountain Square.
Then Eaves decided to move to Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We stayed there for nine months,” he said. “I was in a trade store, working for nine stores across the state. But my wife wanted to come back, and so did I.
So he returned to Lloyd & Pat’s.
After a while, Eaves and a friend opened B&E Design & Repair.
It stands for Burkel & Eaves.
“He went to Florida and I bought him back 21 years ago,” Eaves said. “But I didn’t want to do the paperwork to change the name, so I left it.”
Sixteen years ago Eaves moved to the current location.
Anyone who’s been in business for 50 years has a lot of stories.
“Customers are supposed to always be right, but that’s not always true,” Eaves said. “An older man once brought in a watch that was in five or six pieces. He had tried changing the battery himself. I fixed it. Then, two weeks later, he was back with a friend’s watch whose battery he had tried to change. I asked him to stop trying to change the batteries.
He said, “I try to make a deal with people. We do everything here. Since 2001 we have been using laser technology. We can do things that no one else in Owensboro can do.
Eaves said, “The most expensive thing I did was probably $7,000-9,000 for a guy in Texas years ago. It was a large pendant with diamonds and sapphires. I made belt buckles for cowboys. I cut the moose’s teeth to make a ring. I can do whatever people want to do.
A friend said Eaves left out some interesting facts.
“He left out that he was asked to try out for the Saint Louis Cardinals when he was 17,” she said, “and that he coached baseball for 20 years for the Southern Little League 2001 coaching staff led them to a state championship.