Reminisce: Three generations contribute to Don Jenkins Jewelry

Servicemen returning to Lima from World War II who were anxious to finally tie the knot didn’t have to look far to find a ring. Downtown Lima in the fall of 1945 was packed with jewelers, 10 of them within four blocks of the Public Square.

A stroll on West High Street from Main to West streets would take the would-be buyer past the display windows of five jewelry stores, which generally sold more than jewelry. Another five stores were either in the Public Square or within four or five blocks of it.

The newest of Lima’s jewelry stores in 1945 was Don Jenkins Jeweler, at 111 W. High St.

Jenkins, who had purchased the former Puetz Jewelry store, introduced himself and announced his store’s grand opening with an October 5, 1945, ad in the Lima News. “Mr. Jenkins, who has been associated with Hughes & Son for the past nineteen years has a thorough knowledge of the retail jewelry business,” the ad read. “He invites his many friends to visit him in his new store where he will feature a complete line of high quality jewelry and diamonds for your selection. It is his hope that he may continue to serve those whose patronage was so enjoyed by the former ownership.”

Over the next 78 years, though the names and locations changed, the number of jewelry stores in downtown Lima steadily dwindled. By 1970 many had either closed or joined the exodus of retail stores to suburban malls and shopping centers. Gone were jewelry stores like Mason’s, Hodosko’s, Oates’ and Powell’s, leaving only four still in downtown Lima. Twenty years later, only Don Jenkins and Basinger’s Jewelry, at 140 N. Main St., remained.

In October 2000, the Basinger family announced its store would close in January 2001. The decision, the News wrote, would end “a Lima tradition of jewelry and Basinger ownership that dates back to 1893.”

In May 2002, Scott Koenig, the grandson of Don Jenkins, affirmed his intention to keep Lima’s last remaining downtown jeweler downtown. “We’re always getting calls to move out to Elida Road,” Koenig told the News. “And I keep saying no. I like Elizabeth Street. We’re very happy with our location. We got lucky.”

Eventually, however, Koenig was unable to keep the store open. In April, Koenig announced Don Jenkins would close after 78 years. Koenig, who is nearing retirement age, said difficulty finding employees finally prompted his decision. “I was down here 60 hours a week,” he said. “We needed a couple more employees.”

Koenig’s grandfather, the store’s founder and namesake was born May 19, 1906, in Putnam County, the son of Jess C. and Bella Barnes Jenkins. On June 17, 1929, he married Glenna A. Steinman.

As a young man he moved to Lima and in 1926 went to work at Hughes & Son Jewelry, which traced its roots to the turn of the century and touted itself in advertising as “the Tiffany of Lima.” Hughes & Son, which was at 55 Public Square, shut its doors in 1952.

After 19 years with Hughes & Son, Don Jenkins in 1945 purchased the Puetz Jewelry store, which opened at 110 W. Market St. in 1906. Like many jewelry stores of the era, Don Jenkins sold more than rings and bracelets. In an ad from March 1946, the jewelry store advertised thermometers, barometers, and humidity gauges for $1 and up as well as binoculars, with case, for $1.25. Jewelry stores also sold appliances and some, like Mason Jewelry at 222 N. Main St., had optical departments.

In 1948, Jenkins moved his store from 111 to 140 W. High St. “Another bright spot on West High Street will be the new front which will be unveiled soon at the new Don Jenkins jewelry store location …,” the News wrote August 15, 1948.

In February 1957, Jenkins was joined in the business by his son-in-law, Donald Koenig. Born in Wapakoneta on October 3, 1931, Koenig was the son of Millard R. and Hilda F. Schweitzer Koenig. In September 1955, he married Jacqueline S. Jenkins, who he met while both worked at the Metropolitan Bank.

Seventeen years after moving to 140 W. High St., Jenkins moved the store again in 1965. “Don Jenkins, who has served Lima as a jeweler for more than 38 years, opened a new store at 117 N. Elizabeth this week and is celebrating a week-long grand opening,” the News reported March 10, 1965. “The new store, Jenkins said, is twice the size of the former business site at 140 W. High. It affords much more room to display famous brand watches, silver, clocks, holloware and fine jewelry for men and women. There also is a special display of diamonds in rings, pins, bracelets and pendants.”

Jenkins operated the jewelry store until his retirement in 1989. He died at the age of 84 on October 31, 1990. Don Koenig worked in the jewelry store for 42 years, eventually becoming owner operator before retiring in 1996 and turning over the business to his son.

Scott Koenig had entered the family business in 1987 after getting his marketing degree and spending several years as a sales representative for a company in Florida. “My grandfather was … still working and my father was still working,” Koenig told the News in May 2003. “I wanted to spend time working at the store with my grandfather. He passed in 1990, and here I am.” His father died January 16, 2014, at the age of 82.

A year earlier, in May 2002, when Don Jenkins Jewelry was a finalist for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s 2002 Small Business of the Year Award, Koenig told the News, “It’s fun to be the third generation – I’m proud of my grandfather and my dad. I want to carry on the tradition. And I like the fact that I’m in the same two block radius that my grandfather was in for 75 years.”

Some two decades later, Koenig noted the bittersweet nature of that tradition ending. Koenig said he’s looking forward to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays without the worries and work that came with operating the jewelry store. Koenig also said he’ll enjoy watching the annual Ohio State-Michigan football game with friends and family, even though he is a Notre Dame fan.





This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.


See past Reminisce stories at

Reach Greg Hoersten at [email protected].