Scirto Jewelers is marking its 75th anniversary at its one and only location in Lockport.
Opened in 1946, by the now deceased William Scirto, the family business continues in the hands of son Tom Scirto.
The Scirto Jewelers story began after Bill Scirto's brothers, Joseph, a paratrooper, was killed in action in World War II.
“(Joseph) had a GI life insurance policy (and) my father was its beneficiary,” Tom explained. “It was $10,000 in 1946. It was a lot of money. My uncle wanted to go into the jewelry business — he was quite a bit older than my father — and my grandmother talked my father into using the money for the business.”
So, on Dec. 7, 1946, Pearl Harbor Day, Scirto Jewelers opened at 1 Main St., where it still sits to this day.
Tom said he once asked his father, “Why 1 Main Street?” and the elder said, simply, “it was the only space available.”
“I guess it was a shoe repair place back in the 1940s,” Tom said.
Debbie Williams has managed the store for 33 years and said she loves it. As the person behind the counter, she is as much a reason for its continued existence as Tom, who asked her if she wanted to keep going after dad died in 2018.
For Debbie, it was a no-brainer.
“I love my job,” she said. “Everyone says, ‘Aren’t you going to retire?’ I say, ‘No! What am I going to do?’ That two months we had to close, not this past year, but when we first had to close when the whole thing started? I went absolutely insane at home. I did. I went crazy.”
Luckily, Debbie was allowed to return to work where she happily helps customers with their purchases and repairs.
Tom said the business has been built on the relationships it has with customers.
“Generally — and we have a good base of loyal customers — when someone comes in they’re usually happy and they’ll be back,” he said. “They’re becoming part of the family. They’re very happy and they’ll be back.”
“We look at this store as a family store and we try to treat our customers like family,” Tom said. “Most people walk in, they don’t know about jewelry, they don’t know about watches, they don’t know about diamonds, particularly someone who is getting engaged. We try to put them at ease and try to make it so it’s not so high stress. ... I tell guys, what you're going to spend is going to be outside your comfort zone. That's just the nature of the purchase, but we're going to get you the best diamond for you, for your money, and try to make the experience as stress-free as possible."