Stan and Wendy Shane recall watching lines of young couples in their 20s snake around the corner of Broxton and Weyburn avenues, waiting to enter their jewelry store.
Now, the couple is preparing to close Shanes Jewelry by April to retire, after running the store since 1970. The store remained at its location on 1008 Broxton Ave. near Stan’s Doughnuts for nearly a decade.
Wendy Shane, 63, said she and her husband have built up a loyal clientele, including blue-collar workers as well as the Hollywood elite, throughout the years. She added they also had out-of-state customers who made obligatory visits whenever they came to town.
“We’ve had customers as far as New York come by, saying they’ve heard about us,” she said.
Wendy Shane, an East Coast native who moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s, said she met her husband Stan Shane, 75, for the first time while he was selling his handmade jewelry at a booth inside an arcade on Broxton Avenue.
After getting to know each other, Wendy Shane joined Stan Shane behind his booth, roving Westwood Village until they had enough customers to open their own store. Ten years ago, the couple settled on their third and final location on Broxton Avenue.
Wendy Shane said their customer base expanded gradually as soon as they opened shop. She added loyal clients wanted jewelry that was made with more valuable materials but still maintained the understated aesthetic the pair was known for.
Customers’ demands led to travels to various jewelry trade shows in pursuit of new ideas and products to offer, which took them as far as Italy, she said.
The pair attribute their success to the relationships they build with their customers, their delicate designs and their prices.
“The memories we make and the trust we build has a lot to do with customers coming back,” Wendy Shane said.
The Shanes said they frequently had to accommodate large crowds soon after they opened. Twenty employees were on the shop’s payroll at its peak, and on some days, as many as 15 would work behind the glass displays during one shift.
“Shanes was packed,” Wendy Shane said as she sifted through wrinkled and faded photographs of a previous Shanes location. “Stan could be on five phone calls at a time handling customers.”
After sales took off, Wendy Shane said she began to interact more with customers, while Stan Shane focused on the logistics of the business in the back office.
UCLA alumnus Tristin Hagen and Rich Headley, a graduate student at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, said they walked past the store for several years, but the closing sign in the storefront finally drew them in.
“This was one of those places that I always saw but never bothered to go in,” Hagen said. “It’s hard to walk into a jewelry store and feel comfortable – this place was a breath of fresh air.”
Wendy Shane said the pair gradually grew more tired as the years progressed, and finally decided it was time for a break.
“I haven’t had a real vacation in over 20 years,” Wendy Shane said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love our store and I love the people we serve every day and you don’t open a business to close it, but it’s getting hard to put that extra energy in.”
Stan Shane said it would be difficult to find a replacement who could run the store as well as his wife did.
“I’d love to keep the store running, but we’re both getting older and tired,” he said. “It’s expensive to find someone as good as Wendy.”
The two have also been coping with the loss of their son Tyler, who passed away three years ago. Wendy Shane said the grief they experienced from his passing and the persistent effort required to operate a business compelled them to finally close shop.
Both said the most satisfying parts of their jobs were the memories made through customer interactions. Stan Shane said it was emotionally rewarding to see a customer walking out smiling, knowing his store had a part in it.
Wendy Shane said she plans to use her newfound time and freedom to visit family and return to her childhood stomping grounds in New England. She added she and her husband are considering opening an online jewelry store that would be called Alexandra Taylor, after their granddaughter and son.