End of August closure for Annable’s Jewellery

WINCHESTER – Thirty-eight years of long hours and little down time have finally caught up to Gary Annable.

The longtime village merchant, the face behind Annable’s Jewellery and Gifts, is set to retire later this summer, and perhaps not a moment too soon.

“There are a few factors,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with some health issues, my girls [co-workers Libby Pelkey and Susan Johnstone] are ready to retire, and the small town retail landscape is getting harder to survive in all the time.”

Longtime Annable’s Jewellery and Gifts owner Gary Annable is set to retire later this summer. Press Photo – Uhrig

There is also a supplier aspect, given that a lot of companies steer clear of small, rural stores that purchase limited amounts of inventory.

“I’m also finding it more and more difficult to keep up with 55 hour weeks,” Annable said. “Especially during the weeks leading up to Christmas when it can be 30 to 40 straight days of work.”

He has no regrets, however, and credits the longevity of his store to a “good, loyal customer base.”

While the decision to retire wasn’t made hastily, it was punctuated by the fact that no one came forward to purchase the business outright, yet another village business owner was interested in buying the building. (Main Street Clothing Company owner Lisa Williams is set to launch a second location of her store this fall.)

“After 38 years, the building and stock are paid for,” Annable said. “Starting out is a struggle, and I can understand that… Insurance, taxes, hydro – none of that is cheap.”

Annable’s connection to the longtime downtown store dates back to Canada Day 1979. He had a relationship with the shop’s previous owner, Inez Davidson, who opened a jewellery store in 1938 in the exact location the current one stands today.

In a 2009 interview with the Winchester Press, when Annable was celebrating his store’s 30th anniversary, he said that “ever since I was old enough to push a mower,” he would help Davidson out around the house.

He stepped up further when her husband passed away, and was ultimately the ideal successor.

Change was constant in the early years, when Annable’s blossomed from use of just half of the store, to taking on the full square-footage and erecting an addition on the rear of the building in the early 1990s.

Despite that change, Annable stuck to a consistent mantra: “I never stocked anything I wouldn’t buy myself.”

While there is part of him that would have liked to continue on, there was no true succession plan. His son Thomas is studying radio broadcasting at college, and his wife, Diane, succumbed to cancer in 2014.

“I needed some time after Diane’s passing, but I realize now that I’ve got a young son, and I want to be around for a little while longer,” Annable said.

So, it’s come to this. Having been a steady anchor tenant on Main Street for some time, and watching as the downtown core has gone through the highs and lows of business success, Annable is changing directions.

“What I can say is I’ve had a good run,” he said. “Like a TV show, I’m going out when the ratings are high.”