If there is one story that I am proud to write, this one would definitely rank near the top. You see, I have known the Bennardo family pretty much most of my life — for many years they lived across the street from me.
In fact, when I spoke to Pina Bennardo for this story, she reminded me that I was just around four years old when they moved into the house across the street from my family.
The Bennardos have always treated me like family and funny enough, when you shop at their store, many of their customers will attest that they too feel like family.
Perhaps this is a big part of the reason why they have been successful in business for 41 years.
Owning a business for forty plus years in a challenging and competitive market is no easy to task and is something that Tony and Pina are very proud of — as they should be.
When I chatted with Pina for the purpose of this story, we chuckled that what is perhaps even more astonishing is the fact that she and her husband Tony — who have been married for 45 years — have worked alongside each other for 41 of those 45 years and they still get along after all this time!
Tony is a very skilled jeweler, having learned the craft in Italy starting at the very young age of 16 years old, working at one of the many jewelry factories in Valenza.
He had to put his learning of the craft on hold when he completed the mandatory service in the Italian military for 15 months. But since he enjoyed the process and excelled at it, he continued to work in the jewelry factory in Italy after his service was complete until the age of 23 years old when he, like many, decided to make the move to Canada in 1973.
He was fortunate to find work shortly after his arrival here in Sault Ste. Marie when another local jewelry store heard about him and offered him a job.
Tony worked there for about five years further honing his skills and then in 1979, he and Pina decided to take a leap and open up their own store on John Street, where they developed a loyal clientele doing a lot of in-store repair work, cleaning of jewelry, customized rings and other jewelry design, appraisals and of course, the sale of a wide range of jewelry, gift ware, clocks, and watches.
For thirteen years, they operated on John Street before deciding to take yet another leap and the allure of more walk-in traffic brought them to the Station Mall in 1992 when they operated at first a kiosk for about a year, then a full store front, which they stayed in until 2007.
In 2007, it was time for a change again and they moved to their current location on Great Northern Road across from the original A & W restaurant.
Pina is quite open in admitting that it has been a challenge at times at their new location because you don’t get as much walk in traffic due to the busyness of the road and at times, it is hard to describe where they are located. But despite the challenges they are very grateful for the customers who do stop in.
Pina indicates that their customer base goes as far northwest as Schreiber and Manitouwadge, east to Manitoulin Island, and even southwest of here to London, Ontario.
They have customers who will save up all their repairs and pay them a visit whenever they are in the Sault and Tony is always happy to do the same day repairs, sometimes even while you wait … now that is fantastic service!
If you are like many people, you might think that a store like Bennardo Jewellers only carries expensive jewelry and nothing else but rest assured, this is not the case at all and they welcome everyone to pop in and see what they have.
In fact, Pina says that they have two lines of beautiful costume jewelry that is extremely popular and people love it. Best of all, the lines are from Canada and all the jewelry is nickel free for those with sensitive skin. The two lines are called Modena and Oxford Station and prices range from a mere $5.99 to $12.95. She commented that many of her regular customers are already purchasing them now to use as Christmas gifts.
One other thing to note is that for those who do not have pierced ears, they have a whole tower of attractive clip on earrings as well which are very hard to find these days!
Watches remain a big part of their business and if you need a watch, they are definitely the place to go as they carry a wide selection of brands from Bulova, Seiko, Luminox, Swiss made Claude Bernard, and a classic Swiss line called Valima.
Bennardo Jewellers also carries an extensive line of beautiful clocks which make for a great housewarming or retirement gift. In addition, they also carry many of the traditional religious jewelry and medallions that are frequently purchased for baptisms, holy communion, etc. St. Christopher medals are one of their best sellers and they are sold a lot to parents who have children going away to university since St. Christopher is believed to protect the wearer on his or her travels.
Fathers’ Day is coming up as are graduations so keep Bennardo Jewellers in mind for the perfect gift that will be a memorable one that will last a lifetime and many of which can be engraved making them even more special and customized.
It is also worth noting that Bennardo Jewellers also offers gift ware for special occasions and holidays and many beautiful picture frames are in stock which can also be an elusive item here in Sault Ste. Marie.
For the fishing and hunting enthusiasts, Tony an avid hunter and outdoor enthusiast himself, has brought in quality fishing and hunting knives that can be engraved and they range in price from $39.99 to $250.00 which would make a great gift idea for your favourite hunting and fishing friends or family members.
Bennardo Jewellers, located at 126 Great Northern Road is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 3 pm and they can be reached at 705-759-6116. Keep in mind that they are following all recommended safety guidelines and protocol to protect customers and themselves.
Visit Tony and Pina and you too will soon see why their customers feel like a part of their family because that is how they make you feel. And that my friends is why they are so endeared by many as evidenced by all the numerous well wishes and kind comments they received when Sault Business Matters featured them as a recent Sault Smiles, one of our regular features.