Carter’s Jewelry downsizing after building sale

Photo by Cliff Buchan
Carter’s Jewelry and Gifts owner Bob Carter is pictured at his repair desk in the downtown store.

After 63 years of doing business in Forest Lake, Carter’s Jewelry is embarking on a downsizing venture this spring. Store owner Bob Carter said the move follows the sale of his building to LaBelle Real Estate Group.

That sale will close on May 31 and the real estate company plans to house its Forest Lake office in the main floor of the Carter building at 85 N. Lake St. in June following remodeling.

Carter, a second-generation business owner, plans to relocate to a 300-square-foot space in the lower level of the Carter building. He plans to remain open during the remodeling of the lower level space that will provide space for Carter’s watch and jewelry repair shop and lines of watches and jewelry that will be sold to retail customers.

At 68, Carter said he has considered downsizing his business as he moves closer to retirement. When a redevelopment plan for Lake Street storefronts did not take shape, Carter said he was close to putting the business up for sale when the LaBelle company approached him with their proposal. The move should provide him the space he needs to carry on and allow LaBelle improved visibility on Forest Lake’s main street, Carter said.


The Carter family involvement in Forest Lake dates to 1954 when Bob Carter’s parents, Edson and Mary Carter, of St. Paul, purchased an existing watch repair shop. The Carters operated in four downtown locations over the next 13 years before buying the building at 85 N. Lake St., where the Forest Lake Post Office was once located.

Edson and Mary Carter owned the business until July 1, 1979, when their son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Mary Carter, bought the operation. That ended 60 years of work in the watch repair and jewelry store business for Edson Carter.

The elder Carter grew up in St. Paul and learned the watch repair trade at St. Paul Vocational College. He spent 20 years in the trade in St. Paul before buying the business in Forest Lake. The family owned a cabin on the north shore of Forest Lake where they spent summers before moving to the community permanently in 1956.

Bob Carter graduated from St. Agnes High School in 1966. At the urging of his father, he completed a technical college program in auto mechanical repair. “I was always told (by my father) not to follow in his footprints,” Carter said of his post-high school training.

With the Vietnam War on in the late 1960s, Carter enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served four years from 1969 to 1973 with the bulk of his time spent at Virginia Beach, Virginia. After his discharge, he returned home and found employment at Wyard Industries in Forest Lake, where he was employed for five years.

His career focus changed in late 1978. He saw little path for a major career advancement in his employment and when his father sought him out to take over the store, the career change was made.

“He was 62 and ready to retire,” Bob Carter said of his father.

Carter joined the business in October 1978 and learned the trade inside and out from his father over the next nine months. The new owners took over on July 1, 1979.

Carter’s Jewelry and Gifts remained a mainstay in the city’s downtown. In 1987, a major remodeling project was completed on the interior and it has served the store well over the following 30 years.

When the move is made to the lower level in June, Carter will maintain some of the business lines that are currently offered, but on a smaller scale. Entrance to the shop will be from the Lakeside Memorial Park parking area. Business hours will remain 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9:30 to 1 on Saturdays at least for the start, Carter said.

The business will operate under the name Carter’s Jewelry.

Bob and Mary Carter reside in Wyoming, where the couple raised three children – Kevin, Kari and Natalie – during their 47 years of marriage.