LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - FEBRUARY 12, 2023 by Lynne Belluscio As I was putting together the jewelry exhibit at the Woodward Library, Trish Riggi and I wanted to make sure that we included Shelby Jewelers. I couldn’t remember that I had any jewelry from Shelby’s. I put out a call to Jim Shelby’s wife Sharon and she was going to see what she had. In the meantime, I found a little jewelry box and a small little bag from Shelby’s and I found a couple of ads in the Pennysaver that could go in the exhibit at the Library. Jim’s wife sent me back a message and said that she remembered my son coming in to buy his wedding rings. Mark was still in college and his future wife had just graduated and was working on Long Island. She was here on a student visa and needed a green card. She had given a lawyer $2000 and he took the money and disappeared. Mark thought that if they got married sooner than planned that there was a chance she wouldn’t get deported. He went to Shelby’s to get the rings and I know that Jim “gave him a deal.” Jim was like that. Chuck Dusen married them on Valentine’s Day in the front parlor of LeRoy House. I wanted to collect some stories about Shelby’s for the files at the Historian’s office, so I asked folks to share some stories on LeRoy Then and Now. There were nearly 80 people who shared their memories: “I’m wearing the birthstone ring my parents bought me when I was 15 right now. After 50 years, its still beautiful.” - - “When I was in school that’s where we went to buy our class rings. Also, where we always had our watch batteries changed. It was so nice to have a local jeweler to deal with.” - - “Mrs. Shelby had been practicing with the ear-piercing gun on oranges, I was at the house that day and she was ready to practice for real... Not enough words to express how truly wonderful Ed and Eleanor were.” - - “Shelby’s is where I got my class ring.” - - “It was 1978 and after begging for months, Mom brought me to Shelby’s to finally get my ears pierced. It was such a big deal. I will never forget that day.” - - “ I had come home with our newborn baby that Sunday. My fingers swelled and I had to have the rings cut off. We pulled Mr. Shelby from a Sunday night card game and he met us on the sidewalk in front of the store. He said his son was armed in the store in case it was a hoax, There I stood bawling on the sidewalk in my jammies with my newborn sleeping in the car. I will never forget their kindness and compassion that night. We always bought our jewelry from Shelby’s.” - - “Jim called me shortly after the fire at the B&R Market next door. He found my rosary from my Confirmation in a discolored envelope. My Aunt had my name engraved on the back of the crucifix. I had forgot that it was there for repair. Jim was always so nice. The whole family was... Still wearing the last ring I bought there in 1988. A Mother’s ring. Such memories.” Sharon shared some of the story of the family and the store. Ed Shelby was a true American success story. He went to watchmakers school in Pittsburgh on the GI Bill while working nights in a steel mill. Upon graduation in 1948, he moved to LeRoy which was his wife’s Eleanor McBurney’s hometown. He first rented space in the drugstore at 56 Main Street to set up his watchmaker’s bench and do repairs. Eventually he set up a counter for sales. By 1954 he had saved enough to purchase the building at 23 Main Street. He was quite successful in the postwar boom years and sold large appliances as well as records and gifts. Jim joined the business in November 1974 and Shelby’s transitioned into fine jewelry. Jim’s wife Sharon, started working part time in the mid 90s. During the years, Jim’s employees were a dedicated group of women who always made you feel welcome. Happy Valentines Day Shelby's advertisement from the LeRoy Pennysaver & News April 21, 1997