Infinity Diamond partners Mimi Swonder and Judi Johnson made a short move down First Street this spring, but a big jump for their jewelry business.
The move was part of their five-year business plan, they say, but came after just three years.
The pair had been located in the old Weinzerl Jewelry store at 8 West First Street since spring 2017 before relocating to 32 West First into what had been the old Waconia bakery and most recently a clothing store. They officially opened May 19 in the new shop, although there are still some finishing touches being made.
Swonder says their former location will forever be known as the Weinzerl building. She jokes she hopes their new location will come to be known as the Johnson-Swonder building. It has their distinctive style, not the traditional jewelry store look.
The pair opened as Infinity Diamond Jewelers four months after purchasing the old Weinzerl Jewelry store – a store with 120 years to its name. They vowed to continue the Weinzerl reputation and advocacy for the customer, while bringing a sense of humor to jewelry shopping and a focus on jewelry repair.
The sandwich board signs outside are just one example of that humor.
“Have your head examined,” one sign states, referring to the head on a diamond ring. Another has a topiary dog lifting its leg on a sign that reads: “Local experts at getting men out of the doghouse.”
Swonder and Johnson also have been named by some customers as Waconia’s “Golden Girls” for their in-store banter.
“Jewelry can be intimidating,” Swonder says. “We want this shop to be open, inviting and make it fun.”
The new shop is a blend of old and new. It has the original jewelry display cases from the old store, refreshed and updated with a white finish. Also, a custom-made white cashier and reception counter – and one thing the old building didn’t have, large windows that let in lots of light, not the dark setting of the old store.
And not all jewelry is under glass. Many of the items are on display to be touched and tried on.
“The jewelry is more visible here, and it has been fun watching customers enjoy trying it on,” Swonder said.
The new location also is 400-500 feet larger, which provides space for an office and more room for goldsmith Johnson to perform her craftmanship carrying out repairs.
While most jewelry stores ship out pieces for repair, even resizing, Infinity does them in-house. In fact, Johnson says repairs constitute about 20 percent of their business.
The pair also have enlisted a young apprentice, Stephanie Lohse out of Lester Prairie, to learn the craft and the business.
“We are committed to being a part of this community,” said Swonder, noting that local area craftspeople did most of the work with the move – from redesigning and refurbishing their new location to moving a 2,000-pound safe down the block.
The move took three hours and attracted lots of attention.
Said Swonder: “We could have sold popcorn for all the people that were watching.”