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DiLego Jewelry to Close After Nearly 100 Years in Business
By Daniel Matz, iBerkshires correspondent
05:28AM / Tuesday, May 07, 2024
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Cindy Lamore takes a quick measurement to adjust the wristband of Dennis Gajda's watch at DiLego's Jewelry Store on Monday. The nearly 100-year-old family business will close this summer.

A 20 percent off Mother's Day sale will begin immediately, with increasing discounts leading up to the closing date on June 30.

Some of the store's tools and furnishings date back decades.

Jewelry stores have carried other gift items, such as these collectible Hummels.

DiLego's moved into its location in the 1960s after its building on south side of Main Street was torn down.

Sisters Pamela Costine, left, and Cynthia Lamore have been operating the store since their aunts retired in 1987. Both started working in the business as teens.  Lamore's decided it's time to retire. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — DiLego Jewelery Store, the family-owned business that has been a staple of North Adams for nearly a century, will be closing this summer. 
The closure was announced on the store's Facebook page late Sunday night, where it immediately drew comments of remembrance and well-wishing.
Cindy Lamore, whose great uncle Frank DiLego opened the store on Main Street in the late 1930s, said the shop will cease operations following her retirement, slated for June 30. A 20 percent off Mother's Day sale will begin immediately, with increasing discounts leading up to the closing date.
It took Lamore "a couple of years" to reach the decision to close. Witnessing the passing of lifelong friends or their struggles with debilitating illness prompted her to reconsider her priorities, especially considering the extensive time devoted to running a small business. 
"You really question what you're waiting for," she reflected.
While recognizing that changing consumer habits have led to a decrease in jewelry and watch sales in recent years, Lamore stressed that her decision to close was a personal one. She and her business partner and sister, Pamela Costine, wanted "to do it on our terms," she said.
Comments on Facebook praised the store's customer service, and friends, family, and customers alike reminisced about buying jewelry for special occasions, stopping in for watch repairs, and the perennial rite of childhood for many: getting ears pierced.
DiLego's Jewelers was one of four DiLego family businesses dotting North Adams before urban renewal, which included a diner, a liquor store on Bank Street, and an accounting firm, D&D Accounting. Costine Electric, which sat across the street from the diner, gets honorable mention as Pamela married into the Costine family.
Frank DiLego had trained as a watch repairman in Troy, N.Y., and was running a small shop there when he was called home to North Adams. "Back in the day, when your mother said, 'you come home,'" Lamore stressed, "he came home."
He worked for Hemenway Jewelry and took over that business when the owner died in 1932. The original DiLego's shared a doorway with the cigar store Indian Princess Lulu on the south side of Main Street starting in 1938 until the area was razed and moved to its current location at 16 Ashland St. in the 1960s, the last remaining tenant from the urban renewal era, according to Lamore.
DiLego's was one of seven jewelers in the city at the time. Still a thriving business when Frank decided to retire, Lamore's aunts, Pat and Diane Maero took over the business, "not even realizing the hard work that goes into it," she said.
After numerous courses and seminars in everything from quartz watch repair to gem identification, the Maeros soon became experts in their field, and a fixture of weddings, birthdays, confirmations, and all manner of special occasions for the city.
Lamore, who began working at the shop at age 11, began her training as a teenager, alongside her aunts. Costine began work there at a young age as well, eventually becoming the shop's master engraver.
Lamore recalled one of her first experiences of a Christmas rush as a teenager at the store, when the shop would be open until 8 p.m. for the three weeks leading up to the holiday.
"We'd go to my grandmother's house, and I just sat in a chair and kept nodding off," she remembered. "And I thought to myself, 'what's wrong with me?' … and I'm thinking, 'Oh! You just just worked straight through!" she laughed.
Pat and Diane retired in 1987, and Lamore and Costine, who were managing the store by that time, became the third generation of DiLegos to run the business. Lamore's daughter, Jessica Bugbee, began working at the shop as part of a work-study program in high school, and eventually became the fourth generation to work there full time.
While Lamore made some superficial cosmetic changes to the store, she and Costine kept the business running as before, always mindful to keep up with shifting trends and the changing realities of the business.
When Frank DiLego opened the shop in the 1930s it was common for jewelry stores to stock electric shavers, men's wallets, and flatware for bridal registries.
By the 1980s, the store had become a destination for ear-piercing clinics, which required a doctor on site until deregulation in the 1990s. "The line would go all the way down the street, up around the corner," Costine remembered.
"We joked that we would never have a customer from that generation," Lamore chuckled, "because the children would be terrified!" Costine said, finishing the thought.
The interaction is a representation of what DiLego's has been for many in the community: not only a place to pick up jewelry or have repairs done, but a space for social interaction and visiting with friends. According to Bugbee, most customers "probably spend 25 minutes to half an hour" in conversation at the shop.
Though the store was ostensibly closed during our interview, a stray customer managed to get in on a mission. Dennis Gajda, sent over by Cindy's husband, was looking to have his watch's wristband adjusted. In no time at all Lamore was carefully banging away with a specialized mallet and the watch was restored to a perfect fit.
When Gajda asked what he owed, Lamore refused to charge him. "Thank you for your service," she said.
If the outpouring of support already evident is any indication, Lamore, Costine, and Bugbee might soon be met by generations of loyal customers expressing the same sentiment.
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