After 35 years of being in business, one would expect a great deal of change. For Richard and Tracy Belzer of Rick’s Jewelry, their decades in the business have brought their fair share of it, but there’s a certain element that has remained constant. No matter the stage of the business’s evolution, even with changes to location and the name, the man behind the counter in the workshop tinkering away has stayed the same.
In addition to being a master jeweler and a horologist (a specialist in clock repair), Richard Belzer is also the only silversmith working in the Magic City. Rick’s Jewelry is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to resurrect family heirlooms, commission the design of a custom piece, or for those poor souls who had an anniversary sneaking up on them.
Richard Belzer began his career as a jeweler and horologist, cutting his teeth at Kokkeler’s in Bismarck and A.M. Foss Jewelry in Minot. After five years, Belzer felt he had learned enough to go into business on his own, identifying a growing need within the Minot community at the time for a dedicated clock repair service. This resulted in the first iteration of the Belzers’ business, Rick’s Clock Shop, which opened its doors in June of 1988.
Originally working out of his home, Belzer’s operation and services expanded beyond clocks, taking on wholesale jewelry repair on site for local shops like A.M. Foss, Belden and Knowles Jewelry. By the next year, Belzer was able to set up shop on North Broadway in a 12-square-foot commercial space, officially changing the name to Rick’s Expert Jewelry Repair.
Rick’s had outgrown its humble beginnings by 1997 and relocated in 2000 to a much larger space and expanded into retail jewelry. It was around this time that Tracy Belzer entered the picture, first as a business partner and eventually his wife.
“We’ve been friends for a long time. We actually went to high school together and found ourselves single. He asked me to come and help at the shop. I was going to college at the time and it kinda blew up from there,” Tracy Belzer said. “I manage, and I’m the head designer. Rick is so good at working on my designs and adding to it. It’s a very good collaboration.”
This set the stage for the business’s move to its current location in downtown Minot, a decision made with encouragement from a relative looking for some friendly competition. The Belzers would settle in nicely in their new downtown home, expanding their revenue streams to jewelry and clock repair, custom designs and retail jewelry sales.
Customers are even given the option of creating their own unique custom mockup of a ring or piece in the business’s design center, which uses magnets to allow different stones and arrangements to be swapped out and mixed and matched. The Belzers even have an interactive version of the design center on their website, making it even easier to find the right combination of rings and stones.
“We love being here on the corner. We have remained. We made it through the tearing up of downtown. We made it through the flood. We made it through some economic turndown,” Tracy Belzer said. “During the Depression, jewelry stores still did very well because there’s always births, deaths and marriages. That helped me keep my perspective.”
Belzer also credited training she received through EntreLeadership courses and events created by businessman and radio host Dave Ramsey for giving her the perspective and skill set to manage the chaos of a competitive marketplace.
“That’s how I learned how to manage this place and grow it and work it so that it’s not working me,” she said. “When they walk through the door, we want them to feel comfortable. I want them to know that it’s a family-owned business, that we’re friendly. We have people from all walks of life come here. We’ve got four generations of clients. When the grandkids the kids of the grandkids come in, it’s really awesome. That’s who our people are.”
While the Belzers’ children haven’t shared their parent’s passion for the family business, retirement isn’t something they’re thinking too hard about at this time.
“No way. I got too much going ton at this, I’m having fun. We keep making it fresh and you have to do that in business. It makes us different,” Tracy Belzer said. “A lot of jewelry stores will stick to 12 to 15 stones, and we have over 100 types of stones that we carry and use in our designs. It gets different people through the door. We didn’t want to be a traditional stuffy old jewelry store.”
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