Randy Williams and his company cultivated a special relationship with the Arcadia neighborhood. Located at 48th St. and Indian School Road, W.R. Williams came to be known as a trusted name in jewelry. Countless marriage proposals had their sparkling beginnings forged at their glass countertops.
Owner Randy Williams poured his heart and soul into the small business with his family by his side. Deciding to close down shop was bittersweet after Randy passed away late last year, but his wife, Judy, knew it was the right time.
The couple was married for over 30 years and raised their family in Arcadia. Randy’s passion for jewelry was born when he started working in the jewelry business as a 15-year-old in Ohio. He worked his way up, going on to manage several stores in Arizona before opening his own in 1993 when their first child was just a baby.
Randy’s original store was located in a shopping center at the southeast corner of 16th Street and Camelback. When the center was slated for demolition, the wheels were put in motion to move to the Arcadia location. “He was so nervous. He had not been in business long, and moving a business is expensive,” Judy said.
The new shop in Arcadia Towne Center turned out to be the perfect home for the Williams family and business. “It was the best thing that could have happened,” Judy said. “The neighborhood has been so good to us. Randy always felt that the people who came into the store were his friends who happened to be customers.”
The jewelry store quickly became known for its popular estate and bridal pieces, and Randy was invited to and attended many weddings throughout the years. For Randy, it was all about the community connection and helping customers find a meaningful piece of jewelry that they couldn’t live without.
“Randy always said that this was a happy business. People were happy to be getting married or getting a birthday or anniversary gift,” Judy said. “He loved that generations of families would come in to shop. He would sell a wedding set to a couple, then years later to their children, and then grandchildren would come in.”
Randy took a lot of pride in his reputation as the trusted neighborhood jeweler. “The repair shop and custom jewelry design department were, we think, the finest in town,” Judy said. “I would occasionally ask him if he would want to open another location. He never did. He was happy with the family he grew here in the neighborhood.”
Closing the business was not something Judy took lightly.
“The decision to close was heartbreaking. It has been a huge part of our family for so long, and it’s all my kids have known their dad to do,” Judy said.
Saying goodbye to the store’s employees was also difficult. “Chris had been with us for over 15 years, Peggy for 10 years, and Lauren, the jeweler, was with us for 22 years before she retired. All three of them, along with many others over the years, have been essential to the business’s success.”
These friendly and familiar faces were known across Arcadia as the helpful and knowledgeable jewelry team. Yet when one door closes, another one opens, and that’s the main reason why Judy decided to move forward with this next chapter.
“When deciding what to do with the store, I wanted to honor the integrity and reputation that Randy had created,” Judy said. A friend of Randy’s who worked with him back in the 1980s – Bryan Freytag – agreed to move to Phoenix and open a jewelry store in the same location as W.R. Williams Fine Jewelry. Freytag has spent the last 23 year running a jewelry store in Farmington, N.M. “It is exactly what Randy would have wanted,” said Judy.
While W.R. Williams Fine Jewelry is now closed, Judy says a remodel will take place before Freytag opens his doors. “The new store will open with the same level of trust Arcadia deserves,” she said.