Celebrating 45 years of business: Hettinger jewelry store stands the test of time

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 6:06 PM CDT
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HETTINGER, N.D. – In 1977, Star Wars opened in cinemas.

Elvis Presley died at age 42.

The first Apple II computers went on sale.

And in Hettinger, Kent Brackel bought a jewelry store.

The good news: his store, KB Jewelers, is still open and thriving in the small southwestern North Dakota town.

This old newspaper clipping is filled with memories.

“He was just three months shy of his 21st birthday,” said Kathleen Brackel as she looked at the old newspaper clipping.

“I took over January 1, 1977,” added Kent.

In 1979, Kent built a new store just down the street.

“I moved into January 1, 1980. And I’ve been here ever since,” he recalled.

Kent is a certified and licensed watchmaker. And since 1982, he’s been engraving trophies too.

When Kent married Kathleen in 1983, she brought a woman’s touch to the store.

“I just am bursting with pride at what we’ve done with this store,” Kathleen said.

Kathleen is in charge of the gift shop portion of KB Jewelers. She’s expanded that to include collectibles, books and other gifts.

“I love to shop,” said Candy Jung with a laugh. She often makes the 40-minute trip from her home in Bowman to shop at KB Jewelers.

“They have things that I can’t find anywhere else,” she said.

While they’ve worked hard to keep the store fresh, there are some things that haven’t changed. All sales receipts are still handwritten.

“It’s kind of old fashioned,” Kathleen said as she wrote a receipt.

KB Jewelers never misses a parade. Kathleen has made nearly 100 floats over the years.

“This has been the most wonderful job in my life. I love every day that I go to work, and I feel really blessed that I can say that,” said Kathleen.

Kathleen would work here forever if she could.

“Retirement is not in my vocabulary,” she said.

Kent, however, is ready to retire.

“When you’re 20 years old, 45 seems like forever. But man, it’s gone like a blink. It’s unbelievable,” he said.

As the clock starts ticking a little faster, they hope their store will withstand the test of time. They hope to sell their business to someone who will keep it open for the people of Hettinger and surrounding communities.

“Hettinger has been good to us,” said Kent.

Kent is from a family of jewelers and watchmakers. His parents ran a jewelry store in Elgin for nearly 50 years.

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