Bling and beans: Jeweler adds canned goods to shelves to stay ‘essential’

Muskegon County

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — A jewelry store south of Muskegon has started offering select groceries as a way to be deemed essential and therefore stay open in case of a future shutdown.

Owner Karl Krautheim says the shop, Krautheim & Swanson GemWorks on Harvey Street near E. Hile Road in Norton Shores, has been in his family for more than 130 years.

“My great-grandfather started this jewelry business in Muskegon in 1887,” Krautheim said. “We’ve been there through the Spanish flu back in 1918, World War I, World War II, the Depression…”

But the coronavirus pandemic could cause the business to close its doors for good. Because of shutdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, the store opened Wednesday for the first time in 10 weeks.

Unsure what tomorrow may bring but certain his family’s store can’t survive another shutdown, Krautheim has added a few essential items to the shop’s collection.

“Beans and soup and tomato sauce,” Krautheim described a small display of canned goods lined up opposite the jewelry cases. “We looked at things that we had as essentials at our house.”

Karl Krautheim stands inside his Norton Shores shop, where he has added canned goods to the shelves so he may remain open if there’s another closure of nonessential businesses. (May 27, 2020.

Essential is the key word: Krautheim added the grocery items for the store to be considered essential, giving it the option to stay open should retail restrictions return.

“Going forward, we need to have some kind of insurance so we can stay open if we’re asked to shut down again,” he said.

The idea drew mixed reaction on social media but Krautheim said he has nothing to hide.

“We went to the state Department of Agriculture and read their regulations on selling groceries on a limited basis and as long as they’re nonperishable and prepackaged, it’s allowed without any special licensing,” he said.

Seeing his store as simply a jeweler that now sells groceries, Krautheim said he did what it takes to keep his family business alive.

“(Great-grandfather) would say, ‘If that’s what you got to do to keep the doors open, then that’s what you got to do,’” Krautheim said.

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