With an intriguing family history that dates back to Santa Monica merchant days in 1945, Bubar’s Jewelers is celebrating 70 years of business success and has the owner and jeweler sparkling with pride.
Bubar’s was opened as a modest jewelry and “accessories” business on Santa Monica Blvd. by Nat Bubar in 1945. Stocking a wide range of items including silverware, porcelain, clocks, watches, pens, and gifts alongside gems and jewelry, Bubar’s quickly grew from a two-person operation to a thriving business and local institution on Third Street.
“We had a full staff, we had a 3,000 square-foot store, products from watches to rings, we had two shops in the back… we had a jeweler and a watch maker, a Swiss watch maker, we spoke seven languages, so my dad was very forward thinking about having a manufacturing jewelry store,” owner Bill Bubar explained.
Citing a wide-range of customers over the ages from young people getting married to generations of the same family coming in for gifts, Bubar said that one prominent businessman in the early days, came in regularly from his office upstairs to purchase ink for his Schaeffer pen.
“So the man that brought his pen down was J. Paul Getty,” Bubar smiled. “That was his office and at the time he was the richest man in the world. And his office was right above my father’s store! That was his big sale.”
The business landscape changeD in the late 1970s and with north Third Street in decline in the early 1980s Bubar’s relocated to Santa Monica Place, with their new store designed by famed-architect Frank Gehry, who was also making his name known in the design world.
“We had an amazing store, my dad invested a lot of money and it was a thriving store in the beginning,” Bubar said. After the earthquake and the redevelopment of the Promenade, Bubar’s made a move back to a pedestrian street-facing store, occupying the historic corner space on the corner of 4th and Broadway in 2002 where it stands as a jewel in the crown today, with a heavy customer-service focus.
“Beyond selling jewelry, people want service,” Bubar explained. “They want a relationship with a jeweler and this is how we’ve survived. It’s a trust relationship.”
With a constant flow of clients from over the ages, some whose families began buying at Bubar’s in the 1940s, the glittering store prides itself on integrity, quality, and service.
“We’ve been fortunate because we’re making a lot of new customers because there’s an influx of new people coming to Santa Monica,” Bubar explained, adding that the cycle of life events, including engagements, anniversaries, and celebrations, keeps the jewelry business going.
“People are always getting engaged, that’s how you start with a [jeweler] relationship. You’re not going to get the anniversary until you get the engagement and a wedding. The bridal business is the foundation,” Bubar said.
Bubar’s specializes in custom work, CAD processing and advanced micro-parve settings, they boast a gem-lab and design center to ensure that everyone’s very-personal tastes are considered.
“We’re not a cookie-cutter store, everything is hands on. Everything is personal – I get to know the customer, they get to know me,” he said.
Jeweler Leonel Zepeda began his craft when he was seven years old. He has been with Bubar’s for 25 years and has a strong following of clients.
“I always try to evolve,” Zepeda explained. “I enjoy everything about my work,” he beamed. “When I come to the store I enjoy everything. It’s very important for me to help the customer, to see them come back again. This is very important for me.”
The caliber of Zepeda’s work sees repeat clientele patronize Bubar’s for gifts, new creations, and the remodeling, repair and restoration of vintage and family pieces.
The shift in customers choosing small businesses over chain stores is also benefitting the specialist location.
“There’s such tremendous diversity and its such a great place to do business,” Bubar said, continuing to build his business one customer at a time.
Bubar’s Jewelers is located at 1457 4th Street, Santa Monica. For more information, call 310.451.0727 or visit www.bubarsjewelers.com.