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Eastown jeweler to retire after 45 years

McKendree Jewelers will close it's doors later this year after several decades as an area staple
Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 10:06:57-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An Eastown jeweler will be retiring after 45 years of service to West Michigan.

Andrew Hetland began his career in crafting jewelery when he was just a young man taking a pair of courses at Grand Rapids Community College (then Grand Rapids Junior College) about casting and fabricating materials.

Then in his early 20's, he continued to expand his knowledge by reading books on the topic. He soon decided to open McKendree Jewelers.

In the late 1970's the business moved into the structure it still houses at 1443 Wealthy St SE.

“Nobody really designed it. We just built it. We worked with a friend of ours and he had the vision," Hetland told FOX 17.

“We call it misguided youth.”

The building now stands as a landmark of the Eastown neighborhood, in all it's chaotic wooden glory.

"It's a great environment to be in. It's hard to dust, but you know, you get past that," Store manager Amy Smeet said.

Smeet never thought she would end up in the world of jewelery as a young woman. She met Hetland by a stroke of chance 21 years ago.

"I was 23… I was walking down the street. I was looking for a job at the coffee shop that was opening up and I stopped in here," Speet said.

”He said, why do you want to know where the coffee shop is? I said, I'm looking for a job. So he says, Bring me a resume. I did."

And just like that, Speet started at a job that she would stay at for over 2 decades.

“I love it here so much that I was just kind of hoping it wouldn't end,” she told FOX 17.

But in a few months, once Hetland finishes the projects currently in process, the shop will permanently close it's doors.

“It will be good to be freer, but it will also hurt not to have all these wonderful people that we've associated with,” Hetland said.

The state-mandated shutdowns associated with the coronavirus actually helped him get caught up on many of those projects.

“I haven't been this caught up in like 30 years,” Hetland said.

“It's been such a nice road to go down with all these people... I’ll miss all the people. And if I had to say anything, I'd say thanks.”