By DAN SMITH
"I'll be able to ride my bike to work now," said Geoff Jennings, looking ahead to early next year when his new venture opens in Raleigh Court. Frank L. Moose Jeweler, which he has owned for more than a decade, will cease to operations after 83 years in business at the end of December.
Frank L. Moose Jeweler was opened by Jennings’ grandfather in 1928 and three generations of the family have worked in its downtown location. The lease will end in February 2011 and Jennings decided not to renew it.
“Our children are all employed in various vocations without plans to come into the family business,” says Jennings, who is president. Jennings' wife, Susan, is director of Roanoke City's art program. Jennings, a physical fitness devotee, is excited about the prospect of getting to work without a car and of working in a place where bulldozers and construction workers aren't busy all around him.
"Three years ago, the construction in this area nearly killed us," he says, referring to the rehabilitation of a major building on his street. The area has been almost constantly under some kind of construction for several years and continues on Campbell Ave. Construction is pending on First Street as two major new projects are considered at this moment. Jennings says he is worried that John Garland's new project next door will require a construction dumpster as his store is trying to have a close-out sale.
“After 38 years in the family business, this was really a quality of life decision for me and although it saddens me to close the business, it will afford me the time for an exciting new venture.
Jennings will open a smaller jewelry store in the Grandin Road area in March 2011. The new store will be named F. Geoffrey LTD. The shop will feature estate and high-end consignment jewelry pieces, as well as sterling silver jewelry and hand-blown glass from Fenton Art Glass Company.
Two current staff from Frank L. Moose Jeweler will work in the new shop, which will be at 1919 Westover Avenue.
"With this shop, I can carry on the family tradition of the quality and integrity that Frank L. Moose Jeweler has provided for 83 years, says Jennings. He will hold a private reception and launching a going out of business sale on September 24.
"You’ll have the first opportunity to purchase at a special price,” he says. A going out of business sale will continue through December.
Frank L. Moose Jeweler has been owned and operated by members of the Moose family since 1928. Frank L. Moose started the business after gaining a great deal of experience in the jewelry business. He passed the major operation of the store to his son-in-law, Hal Jennings, in 1949, but remained CEO until his death at age 97.
Hal Jennings became president, choosing to pass up an opportunity to play professional baseball with the New York Giants in order to stay in Roanoke and work with his father-in-law. He was president until 1998, when his son, Geoffrey, took over the position, carrying on the family legacy.