The story of how Koerber's Fine Jewelry came to be Kentuckiana’s engagement ring destination
Felecia Koerber – Owner
My name is Felecia Koerber, proud owner of Koerber’s Fine Jewelry. Below is a timeline of how Koerber’s Fine Jewelry began
My high school teacher called to see if I was available for a position in the secretary pool for the executive offices of Standard Oil. I applied for the position but flunked the typing test. Then the company asked if I would be interested in being the coffee girl? I said “sure”. So my job was to push a cart with a 5 gallon urn of coffee to every department. I would open the door to each department and yell COFFEE! One by one, mostly men, would come out to get their coffee. That’s is when I met the love of my life, Michael Koerber when he came out to get his first cup of coffee. We were married in June 5, 1976.
In the next few years, we were just living life and having fun. We had no idea what was around the corner for us.
In the summer of 1980 the price of gold shot up to $800oz, which led us to start purchasing scrap gold and Koerber’s Gold Exchange began. We set up at an outdoor flea market in Georgetown, Kentucky with our hand painted sign, a cafeteria table and some scales, purchasing anything that was gold. Our son was born in March, so we would lay him in the floor board of our pick up truck. We did this for two summers.
The engineering company that Mike worked for transferred us to San Francisco, California where our daughter was born and then in 1983 we were transferred to Midland, Michigan. After being transferred several times, Mike and I missed our home so in 1984 we returned to Indiana, where Mike was originally from.
Mike and I started a hobby out of our home of selling gold chains. We were also selling at all the local festivals.
This is the year where our hobby of Koerber’s Gold Exchange, changed into a business. We opened up in October in a beauty salon thinking we would only be doing this through Christmas. I operated the store 6 days a week. Mike was working at his engineering job in the day. At night we would have dinner with the kids, do homework, bath and bedtime. Then Mike and I would get to work recording, weighing and hand tagging in what was needed for the next day. This was back in the day before computers. Mike did all of the jewelry repairs in our basement at night. We did this for 9 years and I never received a paycheck. All profits were put back into the business to build our inventory.
Koerber’s Fine Jewelry was opened. Mike and I built and moved into our shopping center. It was designed to have similar architectural design as the shopping center next door. It had 4 units. We had the first one to the left. Our showroom was approximately 600 sq. ft. We felt like kings with so much room compared to the beauty shop having only 100 sq. ft which included the safe, desk and showcases. At this point, Mike quit his engineering job and we worked together side by side. This photo was from our Grand Opening Party.
Mike and I worked our passion in this location for 17 years. We went to many jewelry shows all over the world. Most jewelers learn the trade through a family member as the stores are passed down from generation to generation, Mike and I didnt have that luxury. We were self taught, learning as we went along and attending any classes offered at trade shows.
For many years, it was 12 hour days and weekends in our small store. We continued to do local festivals and hospital jewelry shows to build our brand because we didn’t have a budget for any marketing. Even though we worked hard, we also liked to have fun which gave us the opportunities to make new friends along the way.
Mike and I were always community invested. We attended many fundraisers that were annual events and we have continued to support them for over 40 years.
Photo Left: Felecia with Macy Gray Photo Top Right: Felecia, Mike and Laura Bush Photo Bottom Right: Feleica, Kevin Costner and Mike
Mike and I worked side by side for over 37 years growing our business. We would get so excited if we met someone in Louisville, KY which was across state lines and they had heard of our store. It would make us feel giddy inside and extremely proud. Life was good…until it wasn’t.
Michael was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He fought the battle for many months. During this difficult time we decided to renovate our building and expand our business. Mike was working with carpenters, electricians, plumbers, ect…while he was doing all his treatments. He knew it was important for the legacy of our store.
Mike was able to attend our first Holiday Party in the newly renovated store on December 10, 2014.
We lost Michael February 22, 2015, after a long hard faught battle. But his presence is still felt in the store to this day. If we experience a challenge we always ask "What would Mike do?" and we always knew the answer.
On September 12, 2015 Jacquelyn and I were excited to have our offical grand re-opening. We had over 300 people in attendance.
In honor of Mike we introduced a memorial garden next to the building.
Life for me the next couple of years were tough but I was blessed to have my daughter, Jacquelyn. She stepped into her Dad’s shoes and took care of business. I knew she was capable because of her 2004 Indiana University–Bloomington degree in Apparel Merchandising/Business and her past experience working in New York City for DKNY for 6 years. I am proud to say that we have grown our small store since losing her Dad into a business and a legacy that he would be so proud of. She manages a team of 15 people, from being on the sales floor, to multimillion dollar inventory, marketing and so much more. She is definitely a Koerber.