After 34 years of selling jewelry, beautiful scarves, and hats, Jest Jewels (1869 Union St.) is closing shop. Co-owners Leslie Drapkin and Eleanor Carpenter are retiring from the business they started “as a lark,” says Drapkin.
“It was a temporary filler for both of us until we decided on a real business,” Drapkin told the Marina Times. That “lark” grew into four stores, thousands of products, and countless lives touched by the owners, who not only became Union Street civic leaders but also who loved the personal touches that came from running a fine store and having customers become friends. Carpenter served as president of the Union Street Association for many years, and the two of them got involved in zoning, street upkeep, the Union Street Festival, and other local issues.
There were also memorable incidents along the way. “Some of the most indelible moments included the three women who went into labor in our store, the many dogs adopted at SPCA events, the monkey who gave away lollipops and pony rides at holiday time, and the hundreds of children that rode in our rabbit truck and volunteered at Easter,” said Drapkin. “Then there was the day the entire cast of Friends came in, and another when Julia Roberts found a favorite necklace, and Robin Williams stopped in just to say ‘hi.’ I was utterly speechless when Robert Mueller came in and ridiculously verbose when Nancy Pelosi and whip-smart daughter Christine visited. The day Trump stole the 2016 election was a memorable one, too. It wasn’t a day for business as usual. Rather, it was a day of mourning, a day when a shocked and despondent crowd gathered in our store to support one another, cry, and express our collective incredulity.”
But even the day-to-day acts of running a retail establishment in the Marina provided memorable pleasures. “While there are examples of some remarkable days, those not remarkable are the ones I will miss the most,” Drapkin said. “The daily stuff. The groove of my day in the store and on the street along with the love and loyalty of longtime employees who have helped shape the personality of Jest Jewels has been the secret sauce to my well-being for more years than I can remember. Key in the lock, groan of the wood floor, and the scent of the tuberose candle. The quiet moments of prepping a window, sorting new treasures and fanning out this season’s color wheel of scarves and hats. A chat with Tony as he delivers breakfast from Caffé Union, Charlotte on the way to the library, a hi to JoAnn as she runs by, a heart-to-heart often ending in a deep belly laugh with Beatie. All so essential to the breath of my day. Surely such a bounty is in itself a celebration. How very fortunate Eleanor and I have been.”
The duo is celebrating their retirement with sales at all of their stores.