ZEPHYRHILLS — Myron Nabers opened the jewelry business that would bear his name in 1933.
By then, America’s Great Depression had reached its depths, so the business decision by Nabers, a talented watchmaker raised on a dairy farm outside Zephyrhills, must have been a gamble.
But Nabers Fine Jewelers, originally located in Dade City, did more than merely survive. For over 80 years, and through more than one drastic economic downturn, the business shined like the loose diamonds, wedding rings and Rolex watches it sold, displayed or repaired.
Tom Vanater, who bought the business from Nabers in 1982, said this week, though, that the business will close sometime around mid-May.
Vanater said his decision has nothing to do with declining profits — he said 2012 was the store’s best year — and everything to do with his desire to retire.
“I’m 65 and ready to start slowing down,” Vanater said. “I have other properties I manage. It was just time to start thinking about getting out of this. The other things are more manageable for someone who is semiretired.
“The business has been a very viable and profitable business over the years, and it was for Myron, too.”
Vanater said that a few prospective buyers showed interest in the Gall Boulevard store just south of Daughtery Road, but no deals have been made.
“We’re working toward someone who may want to take over the lease or purchase it,” Vanater said, adding that the 2,000-square-foot space could easily house another jewelry store.
“It’s kind of a turn key operation,” he said.
The closing of Nabers’ leaves a void in Zephyrhills’ growing business community.
Vonnie Mikkelsen, executive director of the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce, said she is glad that although Vanater plans to retire, he is not leaving town.
“Will Nabers Jewelers be missed? You bet it will,” she said. “Think about it: 80-plus years in business means making it through more than 160 winter-summer seasonal cycles and coming out on top. So much can be learned from this business, and from Tom Vanater who has earned the respect and trust of his customers and the business community.
“The good news is, Tom will continue to lend his expertise and business acumen to the community through continued service on the Chamber Board and the Zephyrhills Economic Development Coalition Advisory.”
A West Virginia native, Vanater bought the business — then located in Dade City — after moving to the area from New York. By the mid-1980s, he opened the Zephyrhills location.
“We had both (locations) for about eight years, then we had a fire at the Dade City store and that pretty much closed it,” Vanater said.
Still, Nabers continued to thrive.
“We basically just combined both stores into the (Zephyrhills) location,” he said. “Within a year, we were doing more business in the one location than when we were in two.”
As Nabers prepares to shut its doors, Vanater said customers can find great values.
“We started our going-out-of-business sale, but we still have a lot of merchandise to move,” Vanater said. “We will continue to reduce prices. There are some great specials. We have a large inventory, more than I needed over the years — like most in the jewelry business — and most things are marked at cost or near cost.”
It is the people Nabers has served — as well as its employees — that Vanater said he will most miss.
“We have had several people stop in to say they’re sorry to see us go and, certainly, I feel the same way,” he said. “I’m happy to retire, but I’ll miss all the people I’ve dealt with through the years.
“Selling jewelry is a happy thing. It’s been a fun, interesting business to be in.”