In 1947, Emery Weinberger arrived in the United States, a Holocaust survivor from Slovakia. After living in New York briefly, he moved to Michigan and began working for different businesses, dabbling in odds and ends. He was always good with his hands and particularly enjoyed working with antique jewelry.
Emery took English classes to learn the language and in 1965, he established his first antique and jewelry store, Sims Antiques in Highland Park. Wholesale repair dominated the business, and the door was always open. People felt welcomed, and they were, no matter how much money lined their pockets. The store offered something for everyone, and business grew.
After the infamous Detroit riots in 1967, Emery moved his business, opening Emery’s Manufacturing in the Metropolitan Building. Fine jewelry started populating his showcases. Around that time his son, Rob, entered the business. “I started when I was 9 years old; I went with him to work on Saturdays,” Rob says. “I learned how to break down jewelry, learned how jewelry was made. And we refinished furniture. It was beautiful – oak tables, etc. It was different. If I had time, I’d still do it.”
When Rob was 11, Emery moved his family to nearby Southfield and established a new store. Five years later, in 1974, he and his wife, Natalie, opened Emery’s Jewelers in a different location in Southfield, offering gifts along with custom jewelry. Relocating yet again, Emery’s Creative moved to its current location in Farmington Hills in 1984 and welcomed Rob’s sister Terri into the business. “We moved with the progression of the population,” Rob says.
“We saw a need to keep moving out this way,” he adds. “People were moving out to the suburbs, and that’s what we did. We’re in a high per-capita-income county. It’s a mix of nationalities and pocket sizes. Everyone is welcome; I don’t care if they have $5 or $50,000 – or a million! They’re all treated the same.”
The family business has remained in the same location for 32 years, about 25 miles from downtown Detroit. Emery passed away 23 years ago; Natalie retired in 2008 and passed away this past January.
Artisan Jewelry, Unique Gifts
Emery’s Creative is a full-service store with artisan jewelry and unique gifts in all price ranges, a great assortment of watches, custom designs and repair. The store is proud to offer the beautiful work of Michigan artists. “Of course, we do custom work ourselves, so we’re Michigan artists, too!” says Rob.
“When Dad died, we kept the business moving along,” he says. Terri is in charge of buying. Her husband, Howard Herman, and Rob’s wife, Debe, are involved in the business. And following in her father’s footsteps, Rob’s daughter Ali, 27, was initiated into Emery’s Creative at the age of 9. “Ali is involved in purchasing and inventory; she’s involved in basically running the business.”
Emery’s Creative isn’t large - the showroom takes up about 420 square feet of the store’s total 1,050 square feet. It lends to a friendly, bustling atmosphere. “People walk in and say, ‘I haven’t seen a store this busy in years!’” Rob laughs.
He and his family actively promote the store with local television news appearances, offering gift ideas for special occasions. They showcase items such as wooden beads and stunning pens handcrafted by Michigan artists, a Father’s Day flask - items designed to draw customers into the store.
Since 1987, Emery’s has been offering ear piercing as well - Rob figures he’s done about 12,000 of them. “I have enough pictures to wallpaper the store several times over,” he laughs. “Babies, adults . . . I pierced a grandfather and son who were 18 and 80 years old.”
Rob trained with GIA but describes himself as mostly self-taught. “My father also learned by watching other people. Then you learn how to do it your way.”
Of the many lessons learned from Emery, Rob holds these close: “Don’t get rich on one customer, and be a good person. When you’re good to the people, they’re good to you. Don’t assume a customer can’t afford something by the way they look.
“It’s a fun store and a great place to be,” adds Rob, who employs 12 people besides family. “There’s no pressure here. No suits and ties. Everybody likes to come to Emery’s. Our motto is, ‘Curiosity brought you here – satisfaction will bring you back.’”
The store’s website says it all: “Although many things have changed in 30 years, one thing still remains, Emery’s integrity and his love for people that he passed on to his children. Everyone is always welcome.”
|Emery’s carries a wide array of handcrafted offerings from local artisans.|