JN: What was your work history? Did you work anywhere besides Spertner Jewelers?
MB: I worked for a year as a bartender in Atlanta and then moved home to work in the store. I had previously worked there when I was 16, unpacking china barrels and working in the stock room. When I moved back, we had four locations, and I moved around and worked at all the stores, learning the business. During that time, we opened seven watch kiosks, called Time Square, and operated the jewelry department inside six Rices Nachmans department stores.
By 1985, the Rices Nachmans stores had closed, and by 1990, the kiosks, which were in mall locations, became too expensive to operate. In 1995, we had three jewelry store locations.
We concluded that we were too little to be big and too big to be little – and I was ready to try something new. We closed all the stores except for one location, which my dad operated. I bought a computer education franchise which taught computer education to children. At the time, personal computers were not in every home, and there was a need to expose young children to technology.
By 2000, the novelty of personal computers had worn off, and many people had computers and educational software at home. I closed the franchise and began an operation in the advertising specialty industry, providing cookies to major companies with an edible image of their logo. We provided cookies to companies such as DKNY, Motorola, Guess, WWE, and many others. The housing collapse and recession decimated the advertising industry, and we were also a victim of that fallout.
I returned to Spertner’s full time about 2008. I never totally left the business and was always involved with it at least partially up until my return. We were always a customer-driven business and, as my dad transitioned to a more part-time role, I continued to cultivate our customer service and added more custom design. I maintained that focus until the end.
JN: When did you retire?
MB: I retired December 21, 2023.
JN: What convinced you to take the leap?
MB: My lease was up at the end of 2023, and I had already renewed it an additional two years beyond the initial five years. Business was good. I had a strong and loyal customer base; I honestly could have gone another two years, but I wanted to retire while I was still healthy enough to enjoy it. My wife retired the year before, because of COVID, and sometimes you have to just pick a point and say this is it.
JN: Do you have a plan for what you will do with your time?
MB: I’m not worried about staying busy and engaged during my retirement. We will travel for sure. I plan to get my master gardener certificate. I love to read. I’m going to start slowly, enjoy my time not working, and gradually add new things as they present themselves. I’m not in a hurry to fill my day.
JN: Will you volunteer?
MB: The master gardener program is a volunteer program, and I’m looking at working with schools to show the kids how to plant a garden and how their food grows.
JN: Is there an opportunity to use your professional skills in volunteer work?
MB: I’m not sure there is an opportunity to work as a volunteer using my jewelry knowledge, but if there is something, I would certainly consider it.
JN: What about travel? Do you have destinations in mind?
MB: Travel plans include Miami, Yellowstone Park, Costa Rica, Amsterdam, Portugal. Too many to mention.
JN: In general, are you glad you decided to retire? What will you miss about working?
MB: I am glad I retired. I will miss many of my long-time customers and the social aspects of their visits. But I have no doubts about this being the right time for me. My advice is if you can afford it, don’t wait.