Citing a need for more customer traffic, longtime downtown business Kuhn’s Diamond Jewelers will move next spring to Tebo Village north of the interstate.
The decision was not an easy one, said owner Sari Reynolds, granddaughter of the store’s founder.
“It’s been agonizing,” she said Thursday.
“We have loved downtown Hays. We have always loved downtown Hays, been huge cheerleaders for downtown. It was just something that we felt we needed to try even though we love it.
“We continue to love downtown Hays, we’ll just do it as patrons instead of as a business.”
“One of the things that put me at peace was when I discussed it with my brothers and told them what we were planning to do, they made me feel so good by telling me they both thought that our dad would have said this is a really good move,” Reynolds said.
Store manager Trey Wentling, Reynolds’ son-in-law, said it was not a decision that was made quickly.
“This wasn’t a decision we made in the last two months. We’ve been thinking about it for the last two years with seeing the constant decrease of traffic down here,” he said.
“The little eating places and little boutiques are doing OK down here,” Wentling said. “We just aren’t that type of store, and we need to go where there’s more people.”
Another factor in the move is the chance to create a new look for the store, both said.
They had been looking into remodeling the store, something that hadn’t been done since a second location at The Mall, now Big Creek Crossing, was closed in 2005.
Lighter colors and open space are the current trends in store design, Wentling said.
“We desperately need lighting, we desperately need new showcases. We desperately need a facelift,” Reynolds said.
They previously looked into relocating the store to Tebo Village or another location on Vine Street, but backed off the idea and considered a remodel of the downtown store, they said. Then Tebo Village recently approached them about moving there.
“We felt it was a business opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” Reynolds said.
“They’ve never really had a brand-new store where you can be able to design it how they want it,” Wentling said.
“This is not so much for Randy and I, it’s for Rachel and Trey, for the next generation,” Reynolds said of her daughter and son-in-law, who are the fourth generation to work the store.
Reynolds’ grandfather, B.M. “Bill” Kuhn, opened his first jewelry store in Russell after working for his brother-in-law, Herman Tholen, who owned Tholen Jewelers at 804 Main in Hays.
“When my grandpa came back from World War I, Herman said you need to think about opening a store in Russell. In 1930, that’s what he did,” Reynolds said.
Kuhn later took over Tholen’s store, and his son, Gib, joined the business after World War II. Reynolds and her husband, who is now semi-retired, have been with the store for 40 years. In 1987, it moved to its current location at 1009 Main.
The new location will be slightly smaller in size, but because they will be able to customize the interior, it will have more display space, Reynolds and Wentling said.
“It will be more of a wide open space with all of our merchandise easily accessible up front, and our office and workbench will be more towards the back. We’re excited about new flooring and lighting and just the fact everything will be a brand-new building,” Wentling said.
The jewelry store will have a sale on its inventory through the end of the year, with some products at 70 percent off. More sales will be possible after the first of the year, they said.
“We’re going to have some newer cases, newer displays, and we’d like to start with new merchandise as much as we can,” Wentling said.
The new store will be located next to Tebo Village’s newest tenant, Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery. They would like to open by Valentine’s Day, but expect it could more likely be March or April. The downtown store will stay open until then, closing about a week before to allow for moving, Wentling said.
Kuhn’s employs six full-time employees, and Wentling and Reynolds said it’s possible they eventually could add a part-time time position after moving to Tebo Village.