When walking into Binkley Jewelers at 105 S. Main Street in Morton, you may be surprised at what you find. The first thing you will experience is a greeting by “Echo”, Jeweler Bruce Binkley’s blue healer. The dog has a calm disposition and is loved by its owners, Bruce and Connie Binkley. Bruce calls Echo a mascot.
A sign on one of the display cases toward the back of the business states, “Echo and I are retiring on March 31”. The date is approaching soon for Bruce and his business companion. There is a question that comes to mind: Will Echo miss his daytime environment, or will the dog be super happy to “retire” with Bruce to enjoy daily walks and the experience of going to Farmdale Park for a trot along side Bruce and Connie’s bicycles? Those are two of the plans Bruce mentioned in the interview for this article.
Bruce is prepared to retire, something that he wanted to do in 2020. However, he postponed retirement due to the pandemic. He is confident that 2021 is the time to get on with new adventures. The delayed retirement also gave him the opportunity to have the time to sell some of the items in his display cases and continue to complete repairs for his customers.
Since the age of 15, Bruce has been involved in the jewelry trade. He was fortunate at a young age to learn from Steve Novel, a former jeweler in Morton. This relationship with Novel formed the education for the young teen. Bruce learned his trade by doing and not by studying for his career though a vocational school.
In 1982, when Bruce began his business, the economic climate was difficult. Interest on loans was high and Caterpillar, Inc. was experiencing a strike.
“I did what I had to do,” said Bruce of his early beginnings in business. “Owning a business is a tough road to hoe.”
As time passed and foot traffic on S. Main Street was stable, Bruce experienced growth in his business and hired help was needed. He says that most of his customers are from Morton and some from Washington. When retirement was approaching in 2020, he found that he did not need any additional help. His last employee was Lisa Beadle.
Bruce was fortunate to win state awards for his designs. He says that as he matured, he became more creative. This creativity is evident in his hobby as a woodworker, a skill he intends to continue in retirement. He is also thinking about visiting his brother and going camping.
Elyse Powell, Bruce’s daughter replied to an email saying, “This is a bittersweet time for our family. The jewelry store has been a part of our whole lives. We have spent so much time there—as family and as employees—over the last 38 years; even the grandkids love coming to see Papa Bruce and Echo at the store when we’re visiting. We’re so happy that our dad can retire at this point in his life. He has definitely earned it.”
Binkley’s philosophy is sound: “I treat customers as I would like to be treated.” That has proved to be a sound foundation for a business that began in 1982 and that celebrated a 39th anniversary in May 2021.
An open house will be held in Bruce and Echo’s honor on March 27, 2021. Stop in and wish them both a happy retirement. Echo will show you his tricks and if need be, wait quietly for his treat from Bruce.