After 70 years, Komara Jewelers passes torch to new generation
By Jordyn Grzelewski
When Stephen Komara came back to the Mahoning Valley after serving in World War II, he was too badly injured to work in the steel mills.
So, the Czechoslovakian immigrant went to school to study jewelry and watch repair, and in 1948 he opened his own jewelry shop on State Street in downtown Struthers.
Now, 70 years later, Komara Jewelers will be passed down to the third generation of the family.
Bob Komara, who started working in his father’s shop as a child and who has grown the family business over the last few decades, will retire this year and hand over day-to-day operations of the store at 3649 Canfield Road to his daughter, Brianna Komara-Pridon, 37, and son Rob Komara, 35.
Bob, the oldest of seven children, started spending time in his father’s Struthers store at about age 8. By age 11, he was engraving and assembling trophies, and as a teenager he started working on the sales floor.
He recalled that one of his tasks as a child was to wipe down the jewelry cases and sweep the floor several times a day, because soot from a nearby mill would blow in whenever the door opened.
Bob worked at his father’s Struthers store throughout high school and college, then opened his own location in 1977 in Cornersburg, across the street from the plaza where the store now is located.
He’s seen many changes to the family business over the years, from his father moving his store in the 1970s, to going into business with his brother Tom, to his father’s retirement in 1990. At one time the family had numerous locations in the Valley.
He opened the current and only remaining location in 1993.
Bob also has seen the jewelry business change dramatically.
“In the ‘60s, there had to be 40 independent jewelers [in the area]. There were seven or eight downtown,” he said. “Now, there are like four or five [total in the area]. We’re one of the last ones standing.”
He attributes his success to expertise, and the excellent customer service instilled in him by his father.
It’s that aspect of the business that he has enjoyed the most.
“You’re dealing with people in happy experiences. There’s a birth of a child. There’s a wedding. There’s Christmas. I’m an old-timer and I feel there’s a certain sentimental thing with jewelry,” he said. “This is why I want to sell a nice product – because I sell something now and someone’s great-granddaughter will be wearing it 75 years from now.”
Now, Komara feels it’s time to pass the torch to the next generation. He soon will hand over day-to-day operations to Brianna and Rob, and stay on as a consultant and on an appointment basis.
The store is celebrating the occasion with a liquidation sale, going on now. The sale includes deep discounts to brands such as Le Vian, Movado, Pandora and Simon G. For more information, visit komarajewelers.com or call 330-793-9048.
Brianna and Rob are no stranger to the business. Both graduated from the Gemology Institute of America, Brianna as a gemologist and Rob as a jewelry designer with a diamond degree.
They said they plan to continue the legacy built by their father and grandfather.
“It means everything. I grew up in the business,” Komara-Pridon said, growing emotional. “Ever since I was little, I’d come in and help my dad.”
“We’re excited for this new chapter at Komara Jewelers,” she said.