FARGO - If Fred Wimmer were still alive today, he’d probably be sporting a smile that sparkled like a diamond.
Wimmer’s Diamonds is celebrating 100 years and four generations in the jewelry business with a ribbon-cutting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at the downtown store, 602 Main Ave.
“It’s certainly a proud moment in the legacy of Wimmer’s,” Co-owner Aaron Wimmer said Friday, Sept. 13, of the upcoming celebration.
“There’s not that many businesses that can claim they’ve been around for 100 years and can claim they have customers from many generations of the same family,” the fourth-generation jeweler said.
“People still get engaged, still have anniversaries. As long as love is in the air, we’re still in business,” Aaron’s father and co-owner Brad Wimmer said. “It’s gratifying. It’s rewarding. Fargo’s been good to us. .... It (time) just goes so fast.”
The multi-generational business gem was started by Hungarian-born immigrant and craftsman Fred Wimmer, who left Budapest for New York in 1907. There he worked for Tiffany & Co as an engraver.
He moved to Minneapolis in 1910 and continued in the business. Six years later, he moved to Owatonna, Minn., where he worked for Jostens, starting the school emblem department, Forum files say.
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In 1919, Fred Wimmer moved to North Dakota and started Fargo Jewelry Manufacturing, a wholesale jewelry business on the second floor of 2½ Broadway, similar to what was being done by Jostens at the time, Brad Wimmer said. Over time, Fred switched his sales focus to include retail sales under the Wimmer’s Jewelry banner.
In 1932, Arthur “Art” Wimmer, bought Fargo Jewelry Manufacturing and Wimmer’s Jewelry, according to The Forum’s files.
In 1941, Wimmer's Jewelry moved to 610 Front St. (which was renamed Main Avenue in 1955).
In 1947, Andy Wimmer (Brad’s father) joined the company. When Fred Wimmer retired, Andy and Art ran the company.
After Art died in 1966, Andy’s wife, Florence, then became a partner in the business.
The Wimmer’s downtown store moved to its current spot in 1982, Brad said.
Brad and his brother Randy took over the business in 1985, Brad said. That same year they bought the Keepsake Diamond Center in West Acres, renaming it Wimmer’s Jewelry. It is now known as Wimmer’s Diamonds.
It's been a fun ride, Brad said.
“You’re working with young, engaged couples, you’re working with people that are celebrating 25th, a 40th a 50th anniversary. You see people at fun times in their life. I think it’s just a product that we sell that can bring a gleam to their eye. It’s a fun product to sell,” Brad said.
For a few years, Aaron Wimmer, Brad Wimmer’s son, was a partner with both Randy and Brad. However, Randy has since retired. For the last five years, Brad and Andy have been equal partners.
“I think it is certainly an honor, and also a challenge” to be the fourth generation of the family in the business,” Aaron Wimmer said. “I think a lot of people assume that with three generations ahead of me, that everything is laid out for you, but that is not really the case. Retail is forever changing, and in order to be relevant in the marketplace, you have to grow, change and adapt."
Aaron said he grew up in the business.
“I’ve been coming in ever since I was little. Visit the staff and my grandparents, play around with the microscopes and take out the garbage,” Aaron said. “My family business could have been in any industry. It just so happened to be in gold and diamonds and gemstones. It’s actually really fun to be part of such an interesting and cool industry.”
Aaron’s four-year-old son, Rhett, could potentially be part of a fifth generation of owners. In some ways, he's already following his father.
“He loves to come in and take out the keys to the case and open them up, and play with the microscope, and wreak havoc in here,” Aaron said with a chuckle.