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United Jewelry: A Family Tradition in Globe, Arizona

A 1925 photograph of United Jewelry in Globe, Arizona with owners Bedellion and Berstein at the counters. Courtesy Photo

In 1908 the future looked bright indeed for Globe, Arizona. With nearly 35 mines operating in the area, people were flocking to this mining town from far and wide. But for at least one young man, it was neither the mines nor the business opportunities in the area which brought Abe Bernstein out west in the spring of 1910; it was baseball.

He had come to play for the Globe-Miami Browns – a minor league team representing Globe-Miami in Arizona. The mines themselves often sponsored amateur and semi-pro teams, and the Browns were a major contender then in the world of semi-pro teams with games drawing large crowds every Sunday.

It was at the ball fields that Abe Bernstein discovered a passion that rivaled his feelings for the game of baseball. Her name was Kathryn Federick and they met at a Browns’ game. It did not take long for him to ask for her hand in marriage put baseball behind him.

He opened a jewelry store in Globe and soon caught the eye of another young jeweler, Roy Bedillion who owned United Jewelry and Loan Company. Bedillion proposed that the two form a partnership and combine their stores. 

The partnership would prove profitable for both men and in 1925, the United Jewelry and Loan Company expanded to include fine watches, clocks, radios, sporting goods and more.

Katherine and friends. Circa 1920s
Katherine (middle) and friends. Circa 1920s. Courtesy Photo.

When the Great Depression hit in the early ’30s, the mines virtually shut down – Miami Copper drastically curtailed operations and the Inspiration Copper Company and Old Dominion mine shut down completely. It was a bleak time for all business in Globe-Miami and the owners of the United Sporting Goods and Jewelry Store knew there was not enough business to support two families.

Abe, along with hundreds of others were forced to leave the area to look for work. He took Katie and their son to California, where he found work in jewelers shops for the next 15 years. There, they raised a family of four boys until 1945, when Ray passed away and Abe received a call from Ray’s widow to offered him the store, which he accepted.

The family returned to the area in ’45 to take over the store where Jim, the oldest son, returned from WWII in the summer of ’46 to join his father in the jewelry business. Tragedy struck in later years when younger sons, Bob and Kenneth were both killed in separate and unrelated plane crashes. The youngest son, Mickey moved to Phoenix where he became an attorney.

It was shortly after returning to Globe in 1947, that Abe and Katherine’s oldest son Jim met the woman he would marry. Her name was Mary Karoglan, a Miami native and she walked in to pay for a lay-a-way. Jim asked her out and Mary says they both knew after only two dates that they were meant to marry. Within a year they were married and together they helped run his fathers’ store.  

Today, Mary Bernstein looks back on those years saying, “I’ve always liked serving people.’ She remembers starting out at Woolworth and moving on to a position with the Miami Commercial Company. “I always just loved being behind a counter,” she smiles.

Mary says the post war years was a good time to be in business. She and Jim, along with the rest of the country felt optimistic about the future, and the couple invested $7500 to remodel the interior of the United Jewelry and started a family which would come to include two sons and a daughter; Jim, Kenneth and Kathy.

 Jim expanded the business into sporting goods, athletic shoes and team uniforms, in addition to the full line of electronics, musical instruments and jewelry which his father had always carried. However when Wal Mart moved into the area, he was forced to drop sporting goods and athletic shoes and concentrate on items which Wal Mart did not handle: collectible guns and musical instruments. 

In 1979, Mary opened a second store with daughter Kathy in the Cobre Valley Shopping Center which favored jewelry. “I would try to carry quality pieces and what people wanted,”she says. 

2006-09-27 at 16-58-20

 

In 1998 the family, decided to combine both stores into one location and settled on the old Woolworth building on Broad Street in downtown Globe. It was the last of the Woolworth stores to close in the Southwest and had been on the market for a few years. Mary knew the brothers who owned it and she had been in the same sorority with their mother.

“So, I got a good deal on the building,” she says with a smile.

United Jewelry 2011
United Jewelry 2011

That same year Jim Bernstein retired and Mary, along with her daughter, Kathy and eldest son Jim, took over the reins of the business. Once again the gun business, musical instruments and jewelry were all under one roof;  mixing Remington rifles, fine diamonds and Gibson guitars. Although the mix of merchandise continues to change with the market, one thing remains unchanged according to Mary: it is their attention to service. 

The family has been taking care of each customer as if they were going to know them for a lifetime. And in Globe-Miami that makes for quite a few generations of customers.

 

*This story was original published in 2006 in print. We have reposted it now on the 70th Anniversary of United Jewelry. 

About Linda Gross

Writer, photographer. Passionate foodie, lover of good books and storytelling. Lives in Globe. Plays in the historic district. Travels when possible.

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