It may have been the 25th Annual Customer Appreciation Gala and the 60th holiday season in business, but Fred Halpern, owner of Albert’s Diamond Jewelers wasn’t counting… he was singing.
“We are family! We are family”, could be heard from him as he zipped around the store giving out hugs.
“It doesn’t get old,” Halpern said reflecting on sixty holiday seasons. “At home, I have my three loved ones, and then I come here to my hundred loved ones –my family here.”
There is one thing very apparent when meeting Halpern. To him, everyone truly is family. In his office, a large picture hangs of himself with his wife and two adult children. On the doors and walls are pictures of his employees dating back multiple years. Halpern proudly points to the pictures sharing facts about his employees from the past and present.
“A lot of these people are with me for life,” he said with a smile.
Halpern didn’t have any easy start when he took over Albert’s. The store was located in East Chicago and was in bankruptcy. He had no customers, and he didn’t have enough inventory to fill the windows of the store having to rent jewelry for display.
“I had nothing but that store space and a sign,” said Halpern pointing to a picture of the old store.
“I stayed at home and didn’t take a paycheck for the first five years,” he reflected. “I had to beg the electrical guy, the water guy, my employees cashing checks. I inherited two employees who got paid close to nothing, but they stayed with me.”
His first season at the location was one he will never forget.
“It was Christmas eve. A guy told me he wanted to see something, distracted me and took everything. I was twenty-eight years old, and I had to go home and tell my mom and dad that I had lost everything,” said Halpern.
Forty-three years later, Halpern had over 40 employees, hiring a new one almost every year. When he moved the store from the East Chicago location, Halpern was given the key to the city and told he was always welcome back.
Now entering his 60th season of business, Halpern has far from forgotten his humble beginnings and is proud of the efforts of the Albert’s team in supporting the community and charitable causes.
“We have the Most Improved Day, the Hero Awards Day and walk in the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Walk. Every year we sponsor Tradewinds, the baseball field at Purdue, and this year we raised $355,000 for MS.”
Halpern enjoys the events they host at the store throughout the year. The more packed it is with customers, the more he enjoys it. But it’s obvious it’s not the business aspect of Albert’s that he loves most –It’s about making everyone feel like family.
“You keep on smiling!” Halpern called out to a customer before hustling off to shakes hands and give out more hugs.
It was indeed all smiles as customers enjoyed food, treats, and beverages artfully arranged throughout the store. In addition to the normal displays, a trunk show allowed customers to see items in-person that they may not otherwise have been able to.
The 25th Customer Appreciation Gala’s two-day event kicks off the holiday season. For personalized assistance in finding that perfect holiday gift and maybe even get a hug from Fred Halpern, visit Albert’s Diamond Jewelers at one of their locations in Schererville or the Southlake Mall.