By Darlene Hawley – I doubt that there are very many people in our community, if any, who have not shopped at Leo’s Jewelry Store during the last 70 years. I’m sure that many have purchased an item or piece of jewelry from Leo’s that they still own and treasure today.
It was 1945 when Leo Jay Zuckerman and his wife Dorothy opened their first store, “Leo’s Toy and Furniture Store”, in the old Newkirk house approximately where their store is located today. They sold a wide variety of items to meet the needs of people in the growing community of Wayne and surrounding areas.
You could wander through the store and shop for toys, bikes, magic kits, jewelry, furniture, Madame Alexander Dolls, small appliances and much more. The store was jam packed with goods for all ages. I remember my sisters and me saving our babysitting money to purchase a gift for our parent’s anniversary. We found the perfect gift, an electric coffee percolator.
In 1948, the Zuckermans moved their larger inventory items into a second store across the street from the existing one. It was in a cinderblock garage next to a house they bought. Here they sold small pools, pedal cars, bikes, yard tools, household items among other things. They also brought two new salesmen into the business, their young sons, David and Larry. David remembers being about eight years old when he began to help at the stores.
In 1956, the Zuckermans opened a new store in a new building just west of the old house. They were located between King’s Boot Shop and the Lee Adams Clothing Store. It was here that they became called Leo’s Gift Center. They concentrated on the sale of gift items, jewelry, cards, and collectibles. Hobe’ was a popular jewelry line sold at this time and Hummel’s were a huge collectible. Leo’s sold an astounding number of the little German figurines. Leo’s also offered a new service of gift wrapping which was widely appreciated by shoppers, especially men. Sadly, the man behind the vision of Leo’s passed away six months after the new store opened. The running of the store was left to Dorothy and her sons, David and Larry.
Seventy years later, Leo’s Jewelry and Gift Store has become a landmark in our community. David and Larry and their families have grown this business into one of a kind store that is well known throughout southeastern Michigan and beyond. They sell beautiful custom made jewelry, diamonds, name brand jewelry such as Pandora and Brighton and Vera Bradley goods. They also sell collectibles and watches. They are one of the leading Rolex watch sellers in the country. Their store has expanded more than seven times the size of the original. They bought out the Lee Adams Store as well as the Detroit Edison Store (where we used to turn in our light bulbs for new ones) which was next to Lee Adams.
Plans are being made by the Zuckermans at this time to remodel the store again. It will be exciting to see what they come up with to offer us an even larger and more beautiful shopping experience. It has always been and seems to continue to be the best place to buy that special gift or special piece of jewelry for a loved one. And the best part is the hometown feel of the store as David and Larry greet you by name, and their family and friendly sales staff make you feel at home and help you make selections. We wish them well and thank them for their service to their home town and ours!