KENNETT SQUARE >> When the last customer walked out of Bove Jewelry Store in Kennett Square on Saturday at 5 p.m., it signaled the end of an era. The doors will never again be opened as Bove Jewelry Store, which started 86 years ago.

“We heard people tell their stories about how their grandparents shopped here, and got their engagement rings,” said Donna Reinas, who owns the store along with her husband, George. “It is really heartwarming.”

The store, at 124 W. State Street, was forced to close after George and Donna Reinas pumped millions of dollars into inventory and renovations about eight years ago, just before the economy went downhill. They were unable to pay creditors, and in November, staged a huge going out of business sale. Most items in the store were marked down more than 70 percent retail value.

Reinas said the going out of business sale netted him millions of dollars, but not enough to pay his debts.

“We owe the banks a lot of money, and they want to be paid,” he said. (The sale) netted millions, but there is a cost on that, and overhead, and just not enough to clear the debt. That’s the problem.”

George Reinas said the remaining inventory will be liquidated in the next three weeks, and the money from that will determine what happens to the store.

“We’re hoping not to have to sell the building,” he said. “We may, but we will have to see how all the cash turns out. If I can’t afford to pay it back, I may need to sell, but hopefully, I will be able to lease it out as another jewelry store.

George Reinas said retirement plans are unclear because all the money went into keeping Bove Jewelres going. But he said he is definitely getting out of the jewelry business, and will not be working another full-time job. They plan to visit relatives in Florida, and downsize their house eventually.

Of the 14-person sales staff employed at Bove Jewelers, two have found full-time jobs. Some of the staff have been working at the store for more than 30 years.

Current customers will be contacted, and recommendations for other jewelers will be given.

Both George and Donna said the best part about operating the store, which they began in 1993, has been the people.

“I can’t say enough about this town,” George Reinas said. “The people, the merchants, they were all great. Sure, parking is tough, but it’s tough anywhere, even at King of Prussia Mall you have to walk.”

One of the items left unsold from the mega sale was a $94,000 emerald and diamond necklace, marked down to well under $40,000.

George Reinas said his desire is to get a tenant into the building.

“We’re working real hard on getting someone to lease,” he said. “it’s looking pretty positive, but even with leases, you have to put money into it. But there is a good chance we will have a good tenant here.”

Bove Jewelers was originally founded in 1929 by C.L. Thomas, then purchased in 1961 by Barbara Bove, and purchased in 1995 by Reinas. Just recently Bove Jewelers was the largest independent jewelers in Pennsylvania. It is one of the few jewelers with a watchmaker and a graduate gemologist on premises, and sells some of the world’s finest Swiss timepieces. Bove Jewelers has the largest variety of designer and customer jewelry, platinum, diamonds, pearls or gemstones in Chester County.

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